JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 66 : October 28, 2001
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Anti-terrorist technology - 6
- Invensys: Leo Quinn new ISS Chief - but is GE buying Foxboro?
- Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence
- Never, never be the lowest bidder!
- Technology is not the only answer
- Snail-mail will always be around
- The decline of industrial-automation dinosaurs
Anti-terrorist technology - 6
It is interesting to note that Face Recognition, the anti-terrorist
technology discussed in our very first issue after 9/11, is now being
installed at Boston Logan airport (where hijackers boarded two of the
Boston airport to test face-recognition system
One of the new technologies being considered as a means to identify
terrorists before they strike is Computerized Knowledge Assessment (CKA),
or Brain Fingerprinting. CKA has already been featured on CBS 60 Minutes,
CBS Evening News, ABC World News, CNN Headline News, Discovery Channel,
U.S. News & World Report, New York Times and in print and electronic media
throughout the world.
This technology, invented over 10 years ago by Dr. Larry Farwell of Harvard
Medical School, has proven infallible in tests by the FBI and US Navy.
Unlike lie detector tests, which can be fooled, brain responses cannot be
faked. Brain Fingerprint evidence has already been ruled admissible in US
courts where it has been used both to exonerate and convict.
CKA works by determining whether or not someone is familiar with selected
sets of words and images. Before they board, airline passengers are already
being asked questions about who packed their bags, etc. CKA would simply be
an extension of that process. The testing can be completely automated and
is not subject to human interpretation. The subject's "computerized
security risk factor profile" is evaluated.
Properly done, there would be no false positives and no false negatives.
Some people (even good guys like Navy Seals or FBI agents) might test
positive for specialized terrorist knowledge in the initial 10-minute
screening, but adding additional questions and/or manual checks by
specially trained federal agents would quickly clear them.
Not to be flippant about this, another interesting application for brain
fingerprinting has been proposed - offering the test to O.J. Simpson. If he
passes, he gets his normal life back and doesn't have to pay the huge civil
judgment against him.....
Identifying Terrorists before they strike
Can brain fingerprinting protect us from terrorists?
Executive Summary: Farwell Brain Fingerprinting
How Stuff Works
HowStuffWorks.com started out as a hobby and has become one of the most
popular sites on the web. This is the brain-child of Marshall Brain (yes,
thatís his name - Brain). Millions of people regularly visit to find
answers to almost any kind of question about how almost any kind of stuff
HowStuffWorks.com is just that - a web site that tells you how stuff works.
It contains thousands of topics - just about anything that fits into the
form "how _____ works". There is something for everyone at How Stuff
Works - try it for your self!
For example, if you're still interested in our recent Facial Recognition
technology feature and would like to know more about "How Facial
Recognition Systems Work" simply click on:
Here are two ways to get started.
Take the How Stuff Works Animation Tour
Invensys : Leo Quinn is new ISS Chief - but is GE buying Foxboro?
Battling bravely to stay afloat, Rick Haythornthwaite, who had only just
announced that he would assume departed Bruce Henderson's role, came back
the following week with the announcement that Leo Quinn had taken the job.
All businesses within the ISS Division now report to Leo Quinn, except
Leo Quinn (44) left Tridium, where he was the "President of Europe, the
Middle East and Africa". This title meant hardly anything, except an
honorific, at Tridium, a small (about 100 people), privately-held company
based in Richmond, VA. (USA).
Interestingly, Tridium was started by technology visionary Jerry Frank,
formerly from Robertshaw Building Controls & Energy Management systems
which became part of Siebe (Invensys). Jerry Frank quit in disgust when he
was rebuffed by George Sarney, the dour, uncharismatic chief of Siebe
Industrial Controls (long since departed). Small world...
Before Tridium, Leo Quinn spent 17 years at Honeywell, most recently in
Home & Building Controls. No one who is anyone at Honeywell seems to know
much about his track record - good or bad. (If YOU know something, let me
know). It seems to me that Haythornthwaite dumped the job on the first
person that agreed to take it.
Leo Quinn quickly sent off an email to everyone at ISS (the words eerily
similar to the one composed by Haythornthwaite just a couple of weeks
earlier): "Ultimately, our ability to succeed rests on your very capable
shoulders. Meeting as many of you as possible, getting your input and
discussing our objectives, is one of my immediate goals. I also welcome any
comments or questions you may wish to send me via email and promise to
respond to them directly."
Hey, Leo Quinn may indeed be a good guy - give him a chance!
Tell him what you think - send him an email.
A senior Invensys executive commented:
- Leo Quinn Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
"Invensys has proven much better at
acquiring assets than consolidating those assets into something more
valuable than the sum of the parts. There have been some recent moves to
address this, but it will probably be a year or more before we can actually
measure the results. I question whether Leo Quinn and Invensys Software
Systems will get that year."
Meanwhile, a Foxboro insider reported:
"We just heard indirectly (through a
GE owned company) that we now belong to GE. We are not exactly thrilled -
GE is said to out source everything and they started checking serial
numbers on all the machines today."
A UK financial analyst who reports regularly on Invensys stock, wrote:
"Let's stay tuned for Haythronthwaite's comments with the 15 November
interim financial report. Those comments could speak volumes."
Stupidity is more destructive than malevolence
In a previous issue of JimPinto.com eNews (12 Oct. '01) I wrote:
How can I comment on the stupidity with which middle managers in large
companies operate? I shall - in an article I have brewing: "Stupidity is
more destructive than Malevolence!"
I have received a lotttt of interesting feedback and commentary on this
theme. There were some interesting insights regarding a comparison between
the results of Stupidity (the collapse of Honeywell and Invensys, for
example) and those of Malevolence (the events of 9/11).
Malevolence brings people together. Since it is clearly and evidently
"bad", it focuses everyone against it and reduces its own effectiveness. On
the other hand, Stupidity confuses people; it prolongs and perpetuates its
Jake Brodsky [jBrodsk@wsscwater.com] sent me some insightful comments,
which I paraphrase here.
Jim, though I agree with the overall concept, I wouldn't call it
"stupidity". In a large company, none of the people can wrap their minds
around everything that's going on. So, ignorance and inexperience play a
big part. I guess you could label that "stupidity". But it is really
insufficient bandwidth and capacity at the top.
The interesting point I am still making is: The results of stupidity
(insufficient bandwidth) are often far worse than those of malevolence
which sets out to cause damage deliberately.
One former Invensys (Foxboro) employee sent me this example:
Large, centralized structures require a particular form of maniacal
dedication similar to that of Napoleon during the last years of his empire.
Even with his untiring efforts, Napoleon didn't understand that nobody can
do it all from the top.
There are several kinds of intelligence: mathematical intelligence
(theoretical), common sense (a sense of what is practical), and social
awareness (cooperating with and motivating others). The third form of
intelligence tends to be the opposite of the other two (though I really
have no idea why it is this way).
Managers need to encompass all three forms of intelligence. That's why good
managers are so hard to come by. "Insufficient bandwidth" means that such
people may be really practical guys who can't motivate anyone; or they may
be theoretical geniuses who are unwilling to accept the limits of other
human beings. They're not stupid. They just lack intelligence in one or two
The world of business is littered with the failures of people like these.
Those with enough background (bandwidth) to understand what's happening
leave. Those without such background go down with the sinking ship.
"I could not agree with you more about this. A regional branch of Foxboro
employed me through 2000. There had long been rumors that upper management
desired to close our branch. In the early Invensys years, many decisions
appeared to be part of a vast management conspiracy to put us into
difficult financial situations and justify the closing of the branch.
"However, as time went on, it became very apparent that no one in the
management chain above us was even capable of the foresight required for
such a plan. A deliberately evil manager could not even have imagined the
damage that we witnessed unfolding in all areas of the company."
Never, never be the lowest bidder
When business is tough, some people feel that price-cutting may be the best
way to generate business. But that is a loser's game - especially in the
industrial automation business, which has a high level of applications
knowledge and specialization.
Products and equipment are differentiated by the FABS (features,
advantages, and benefits) that competitors cannot offer. When a product
becomes a commodity (no special FABS), the differentiation that remains is
quality, delivery, and price. Losers, or lazy salespeople, fall back all
too quickly on price as the determining factor that wins a purchase order.
It is curious that some people boast about their products being the lowest
cost. When hiring people, do they hire the lowest paid? When buying food,
do they buy the cheapest? One would think that pride would involve offering
the highest value at a reasonable cost.
Always remember: you are selling value. Your knowledge, your experience in
the business, your understanding of the problems that are involved, your
ability to solve the problems that will inevitably come up, your
availability to help the customer when needed - all these things add up.
Read my recent article - Never, never be the Lowest Bidder!
This was just published (Oct. 2001) by Electrical Equipment Co.
Michael Tsoukias wrote this regarding our coverage of anti-terrorist
"I must protest the idea that technology will save us from terrorism.
Technology is but a means; success or failure depends on its use. So far,
we have had little debate and even less action on the unacceptable failures
of our already enormous security services.
When I suggested that "snail mail" may soon become extinct, Doug Bailey
[email@example.com] protested :
"The new security measures at airports attempt to cover a decade of
incompetence and negligence by taking it out on passengers. Until there is
a full, public accounting from all those who so spectacularly failed to
protect us, despite their astronomical budgets, no amount of technology
will do any good, nor will public confidence ever be restored. Instead it
will make our life worse as the same agencies use gadgets to interfere even
more into our lives."
"Jim, I think you are reaching a bit. You have a technology bias and are
seldom objective where technology is concerned.
An ex-Foxboro employee, now at another major automation company, wrote:
"New technology has undoubtedly made the world a better (although more
complex) place. But, you cannot simply dismiss the large percentage of the
populace that a) does not have access to e-mail, or b) simply has no
interest, or c) is too old to learn. The grandmother in the Ozarks is
unlikely to have any interest in the Internet and its myriad of advantages;
but that doesn't mean she should be disenfranchised.
"Electronic communication has its place - and likely a dominant one. But
the "snail mail" postal system will still always have a place in society -
albeit a changed one. In the foreseeable future you will still be able to
mail a $2 bill to your granddaughter for her 2nd birthday, or a special
card that has popup candles.
"You may love technology, use technology, promote technology. But, don't
lose sight of the shortcomings. And, don't throw the baby out with the
"Your eNews is always great - keep it coming! I pass them on to many of my
colleges around the world.
"Some years ago you wrote an article about "The Mating Dance of Dinosaurs"
making the analogy between dinosaurs and DCS companies. Today, it looks
like more of those dinosaurs are becoming extinct. I just hope the dinosaur
I work for today does not suffer the same fate. There were twelve ugly
sisters when you wrote that article. I feel that there will only be four or
five left when this is all over.
"Soon, the ISA show will only have 5 booths in it - 5 very, very big
booths. Maybe the ISA is another dinosaur that will die a slow death. What
do you think?"
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