IT and Boards

An article in the WSJ suggests that boards are getting more interested in cybersecurity. Actually the line just below probably says it all:

Facing threat of regulation

I doubt most boards are remotely able to carry on a meaningful conversation in this area. They don’t know what questions to ask and in general, they aren’t really interested. Likely, the reports they receive are just done to show that they’ve reviewed the matter.

Cybersecurity is hard.

Been Gone for a While

There is just so much going on.

Corporate stupidity on a huge scale is rampant where decisions are being made for the short-term that do not reflect the realities of the long-term.

Where leaders are ignoring the facts and instead focusing on their narrative or their story or their view of how things ‘ought to be’ instead of reality.

Where people are clinging to their positions despite facts and realities that do not align with their viewpoints or positions.

Look, we need to listen and think about the ideas we are hearing the positions that people are taking.

Corporate directors or trustees need to think and not just listen to the narrative of the ‘trusted’ executives.

All of us need to think more about the good of all instead of the good of us individually.

Trust but verify.

Equifax

Much is being written about the Equifax data hack. You can read about it here or here or here if you’ve not yet read much about it.

I saw a post on Twitter the other day that cracked me up.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 10.34.40 AM.png

One report in the NY Times suggested that Equifax doesn’t even know who is impacted.

Here is the deal, Equifax’s business is to gather this information and sell it to 3rd parties. When you need a loan or want a new credit card, the company extending credit to you goes to this company, or ones like it, to check on your credit. They gather this information from lots of different places and you have no options to tell them to stop doing this. They are creating this database of information about you and you have no control on how they protect this most sensitive information.

We are the ones impacted by their lack of security. We are the ones further impacted by the huge delay in telling us. What was stolen is about us and it impacts us. Equifax might take a stock hit, but not much more.

 

This company needs to be put out of business. The class action law suit should put them out of business. There should even be clawbacks on executive compensation and stock options.  

A year of credit monitoring is not even meaningful punishment for this poor stewardship and lack of property security protection.

Company and organization leadership teams need to take the protection of confidential information seriously.  There need to be examples, like here, where the company is put out of business because of their lack of proper attention and focus. Probably the CIO will be fired, but really, the board and the senior leadership team should be fired.

 

Interesting Findings This Week

The best article I’ve read in the past few days is about quitting. Namely, The Quitting Economy  which you simply must read. The economy, work, jobs, and careers are changing and this article perfectly captures how to think about it. Consider:

In general, to keep stock prices high, companies not only have to pay their employees as little as possible, they must also have as temporary a workforce as their particular business can allow. The more expendable the workforce, the easier it is to expand and contract in response to short-term demands. These are market and shareholder metrics. Their dominance diminished commitment to employees, and all other commitments but to shareholders, as much as the particular industry requirements of production allow. With companies so organised, the idea of loyalty receded.

I’ve recently shared several articles @brewerma on stock options, toxic work places, and how the increasing shareholder value paradigm in business is crushing employees and societies.

The idea of caring deeply about your work and standing out from the crowd is discussed in The Benefits of Living Like a Craftsperson:

Quality. It’s when someone is so completely present for and dedicated to his or her act that they become hard to separate; they become one.

There is a wonderful article about getting up early and getting things done and how that works. Take a look at The Simple Secret to Creating a Successful Morning Routine No One Ever Talks. The Besomebody.com site is terrific and is sharing great content.

Some interesting out of the box thinking proposing that runways should be circular instead of straight. Take a look at their video here.

A great article about The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals.

And finally a nice article on information theory entitled How Information Got Re-Invented. One of my favorite books on the subject I wrote about here.

 

Challenges to Autonomous Control

Great article in the New York Times about the challenges with autonomous vehicles. I continued to be fascinated by solving this problem and the resulting impacts that will have on all of us. I’ve written about it here and here and other places.

This article highlights some of the very subtle but real challenges with having an automated system control all aspects of a complicated problem. It is these boundaries or edge kind of problems that are the hard problems to solve. Things on the edge. These are the issues and problems that will delay any automation moving into the mainstream. Having a car stay between two lines is not the hard problem.

And then in the decade after these problems are solved and these vehicles are the norm, we’ll all forget how to manually drive the car because we’ve turned that problem over to the machines. Just like pilots today who are so used to autopilots that when they have to take over in a complex situation, they may not be up to the task.

Complexity of our Devices

I’ve been thinking lately that our devices are getting so complex that we no longer are sure about how to manage, secure or protect them.

My wife’s phone recently went nuts and started flashing the LED for alerts but that setting was not turned on under settings. Another friend’s phone started acting strangely and randomly and the vendor ended up giving him a new device. His phone was an iPhone 6 which is awfully old to be getting a free exchanged unit. My wife’s Apple Watch battery/system was so poor that the battery ran down every day mid-afternoon with everything turned off. She had to charge it twice a day. Apple support said it was within specifications. Right.

Our home networks are vulnerable and we don’t even know what we need to do to harden. Apple TV can support multiple streaming sources, but nothing is simple and they each authenticate differently. We have devices to open our garage doors with who knows what security. What about our cars?

Apple and Steve Jobs used to talk about removing and simplifying. Matthew May writes about subtracting and eloquence in his books (well worth the read).

Unfortunately, companies continue to make things more complicated.

Our ice maker has a light to remind us to clean the filter. I have no idea how to clean the filter.

Supply Chain Fails

A year and a half ago I ordered a number of actual, physical paperback books to give to some friends at an event where I was speaking. The book was one I wanted to hand out related to the topic of our discussion and my time with them. A certain big book company began shipping these books in separate shipments from around their universe. However, the books kept coming and went way over the amount I ordered. I kept getting new shipment notices in email when I had already received the ones I had ordered.

This particular company is a big web based company and it is hard to actually talk to someone there. I sent emails and finally got a hold of a person and explained the problem. The first person couldn’t understand and didn’t fix the problem. I called again and got another person who did see the problem and managed to cancel what was happening. I offered to ship books back, but they said keep them and give them away.

Seven months ago I ordered some socks from another online business and got double the shipment.  Two weeks ago I ordered some running apparel and instead of three items, I got six. In both these cases, I offered to return the over shipment and they told me to just keep them.

A big company which ships a lot of books and two smaller, niche companies who are probably closer to the edge getting their order management and shipping wrong.

I don’t know if this is IT or order management or their online revenue engine, but in any case, companies big and small must get this right. You can’t stay in business long if you are getting so many shipments wrong.

I should have ordered iPads.