JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 306 : 21 September 2012

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Jim Pinto eNews - Return after 3 Month Sabbatical

Many have noticed that JimPinto.com eNews has had a long sabbatical. Thank you to many who have enquired via Facebook, Twitter and email.

I've been away during the summer holidays – on two European river cruises. First starting in Bruges, Belgium and then The Netherlands, down the Mosel and Rhine rivers through Germany, Luxembourg, France (Strasbourg) and ending in Basel, Switzerland. We then took a train (we love European train travel) to Salzburg (birthplace of Mozart) and Budapest – to board another cruise on the Danube, going through Vienna and ending up in Nuremberg. Wow, what a trip! River cruising is a lot better than big cruise ships.

The time away (total about 2 months) has helped me inestimably. I'm back to the enjoyable things in my life, refreshed and rejuvenated in mind and spirit. I'm happy, healthy and feel blessed.

Many regular JimPinto.com website visitors will have noticed that, after 10 years, I stopped the automation company weblogs. The consistent negativity was getting me down, and I'm happy I stopped. Some cynics actually wondered if I'd been "bought off", while most others wrote with positive support and understanding.

I must tell you, I did consider giving up on eNews. But, I'm a writer. As my friend Jack Grenard said, "a writer cannot not write". So, I've decided to continue to write the "irregular and irreverent" JimPinto.com eNews. But, the tone and flavor will change. It won't focus much on automation business commentary. So, those who've signed up for automation company news may not wish to stay on the list. For those, please send me a simple email with "Remove from eNews" in the subject line or text.

I'll continue to write my monthly column for Automation World - I've been doing that for about 10 years now and I've witnessed the magazine's emergence to US leadership in the automation business. Founder and editorial director Gary Mintchell feeds me with ideas and I enjoy his regular demands to come up with original, challenging editorial. Your regular feedback is gratifying – thank you!

Being a Technology Futurist remains my primary avocation, so you'll read more of my prognostications. In addition, I'll include commentary on societal trends (I'll avoid politics) and global economic shifts (related to futures). And anything else I can sniff out; wherever my nose leads.

In addition to my writing, I do an occasional consulting gig with people or companies I like. Plus my regular speaking engagements which often generate enjoyable world travel.

Hey! If your company needs an entertaining and motivating speaker for your sales meeting or industry gathering, please get in touch.

Your regular feedback energizes me! Please email: Jim@jimpinto.com.

Click Jim Pinto Speaking Engagements

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The Swarm & the Pyramid

The ideas in this section are summarized from an insightful cover story by Robert Moran in the September 2012 MENSA Bulletin (no web link). Robert is Head of Insights in the Americas for the Brunswick Group. Some of the commentary is my own.

The Swarm and the Pyramid: These two organization models are competing to shape the future. Understanding the shifts explains a lot about what's been happening in the first decades of the new century .

The Pyramid is the traditional, top-down hierarchical social structure, with leaders and followers. A small elite sets policy and directs large specialized groups of workers and suppliers.

In history, emperors and kings were at the top of the power pyramid. Today it's Presidents. Theocratic Pyramids were organized around the idea of divinely-inspired order; popes, cardinals and bishops ruled.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, industrialization reinforced the power of the Pyramid. It was very effective and relatively efficient. In the 21st century, the pyramid continues to dominate, though despotic rulers and religious hierarchies are starting to topple.

The Swarm is built on the individual self-organizing through technology, resulting in swarming behavior (similar to bees). It is organized bottom-up with like-minded individuals based on common interests. The Swarm depends on effective communications tools like Twitter, Facebook and Internet blogs. It experiments, fails and grows by learning quickly. Examples are Wikipedia, Wiki-leaks, flash-mobs, software communities, activist online groups like Anonymous.

The Swarm model is effective with rapid experimentation and innovation. It supports the expressive needs of the fast-expanding creative class, is extremely agile and learns quickly. But, its weaknesses include fracturing over interpretation of ideas, and it is very dependent on fast and effective communications, and lacks the focus of determined leaders.

The Pyramid can use its resources and its hierarchy to implement plans. Most of its weaknesses are the inverse of the Swarm. It tends to be slow to experiment and innovate, and is dependent on far-sighted leaders to survive its accumulating defects.

In the first part of the 21st century, the battle lines are drawn. The Swarm attempts to overwhelm the Pyramid by coordinated assaults through disobedience and disruption. It attracts new members by criticizing the actions of Pyramid leaders and leverages the creative strengths of its members to outmaneuver Pyramid leadership. The Swarm attempts to eliminate or re-organize the Pyramid, but then fragments with no defined leadership or governing structure.

Today, most thinking people prefer the participatory Swarm over the hierarchical Pyramid. It is hard to imagine that one will prevail through elimination of the other. Indeed, the likely model that will emerge is a pyramid-core surrounded by Swarm functions.

These concepts explain the "Arab Spring" and many similar political rebellions in the Mid-East and elsewhere. They also illustrate the weaknesses of Pyramid-based organizations when high level defects are hidden with secrecy.

Click Hierarchy v. Egalitarianism

Click Harvard Business Review - Get Self-Organized

Click Flatten The Pyramid

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Tomorrow's World

Dr. Michio Kaku, 65, is a well-known futurist who has hosted several TV specials for BBC-TV, the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. Kaku is Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York. He has written several books about physics and has two NY Times best sellers: Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). Here are some of Dr. Kaku's thoughts and predictions.

Every 18 months, computer power doubles (Moore's Law), so in eight years, a microchip will cost only a penny. Instead of one chip inside a desktop, we'll all have millions of chips in cars, appliances, clothes. By 2020, the word "computer" will have vanished from the English language - everything will be "smart".

In Kaku's latest book, "Physics of the Future" he predicts driverless cars by 2020 and synthetic organs by 2030. DNA chips inside toilets will sample blood and urine and report Cancer, maybe 10 years before a tumor forms.

Artificially intelligent doctors will appear on the wall when needed. The body will be scanned with a hand-held MRI machine, which will analyze the results to provide a diagnosis that is 99% accurate.

In this augmented reality, "blink and go online" will change everything. Students will look up the answers to tests while taking them. Actors will read from their scripts while performing onstage. Foreigners will translate their conversations instantly. And speech-makers will never need tele-prompters.

These gadgets seem decades away, but Kaku insists that they're coming very, very fast. The military already has a prototype of the contact lens called "Land Warrior", a helmet with an eyepiece that allows the wearer to see the entire battlefield - friendly forces, enemy forces, artillery, aircraft, everything, just by flicking it down right over the eyes.

Propelled by advances in nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and biotech, the world will become a fully globalized civilization by 2100. Kaku predicts that the planetary language will be English, and the Internet will be the planetary telephone system. The European Union and big trading blocs will be the planetary economy. The Olympics will be the planetary sports. And there will be planetary youth culture like rock 'n' roll and rap.

Click WSJ.com - Captain Michio and the World of Tomorrow

Click Youtube video - Michio Kaku: The Universe in a Nutshell

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Book: Need, Speed, Greed

Over the years, many of my writings and speeches have stressed that Productivity has now become a global race. It’s a fierce, head-to-head competition between regions and nations for the single reason that it is the source of wealth, the key to improvements in living standards. Those who can make things cheaper, faster, better – win!

Vijay Vaitheeswaran is an award winning correspondent for The Economist and the magazine’s China Business & Finance Editor. His new book, "Need, Speed, Greed" is worth reading.

Globalization and Googlization have kicked off the first phase of profound innovation revolution, with developments like the Web, Social networking, 24/7 connectivity, and global markets.

But the benefits of all this progress have not trickled down to everyone. The elites in the US and Europe and other parts of the world are enjoying the advances while the middle-class in America and elsewhere are not getting wealthier. In the midst of the advances, they're stuck with declining lifestyles.

Cheap China is fading and innovative China is emerging. In an effort to leapfrog the country to the cutting edge of innovation, the Chinese government is investing tens of billions of dollars into science and engineering research and education, and lavishing tax breaks and subsidies on technology firms and clusters.

Global innovation is not a zero-sum game: China's rise will come at America's expense, unless something is done. America and other developed economies must react quickly to stay on top in the 21st century's ideas economy. Sadly, political in-fighting is ignoring this reality.

The hole that needs to be patched is in research funding. America's funding for research, measured as a percent of national output, has stagnated even as the rising giants of the developing world are investing heavily. Even during economic recessions America must invest in things like education, smart infrastructure and research. These are the essential enablers of longer-term innovation, productivity and higher economic growth.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran discusses all this with an insider’s guide to the new world of innovation. "Need, Speed, and Greed" inspires and empowers people to improve their lives, their work, and even the world.

Click Review and Buy on Amazon.com - Need, Speed, and Greed

Click CNN - China's rise doesn't have to come at America's expense

Click Vijay Vaitheeswaran on Youtube

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Personal Growth & Success

How does an individual get paid in the stolid management environment of large automation companies?

The usual path to personal advancement is to switch jobs - moving to higher management levels in competitors and perhaps finally achieving a VP-level position. But, beyond the titles and salary increments, it's seldom worth the effort.

If you want to be on the fast track, my advice is to start your own company, or become part of a founding group with significant equity participation. No big company can match the money you can potentially make as an owner.

A successful startup requires a well-developed business plan. Don't go it alone; the best results come with founders who have complementary skills: marketing/sales, engineering and operations. Initially, there’s no need for a financial manager—a competent bookkeeper is sufficient. The founders should be intelligent, passionate and motivated by shared ownership. They should maximize their shared equity through reduced expenses with shoestring budgets. The frills can be added when growth And success is attained.

The primary aim is to find growing customer needs and satisfy them profitably. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, your company will grow profitably, be acquired and the founders will become millionaires. No big company can match that. It worked for me!

Hey, if you fail, you can always retire to the safety of a cubicle in a large corporation.

Click Personal Growth & Success in Automation

Click Automation Business Startups

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Gregory Hale, [ghale@isssource.com] editor of ISSSource, the premier Security newsletter, responds to the eFeedback from Jean Vielle:
    "There is an undeclared cyberwar being waged. We have heard about quite a few cases of governments engaged in technical jousting.

    "I will say, however, that Stuxnet was not created by President Obama. It originated with the Bush administration. As ISSSource's Richard Sale reported, well before The New York Times story - Stuxnet had its true origin in the waning moments of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2009. At the time, President Bush wanted to sabotage the electrical and computer systems at a fuel enrichment plant in Iran. After Bush left office, President Barack Obama accelerated the program.

    "The groundwork for the plan began much earlier though. In 2007, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) inked a development contract with Siemens the purpose of which was to help Siemens study its own computer weaknesses.

    "As most in the industry will say and it is true, Siemens and Microsoft were victims in this endeavor, but it all depended on what technology the Iranian nuclear site was using. If they were using technology from a different supplier, then that system would have been the vessel used for the attack.

    "This attack proved what everyone in the security end of the industry has known for years. Companies, be they utilities or any form of critical infrastructure, had better get involved in creating a solid, in-depth defense position, because they are vulnerable."

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Bob Fritz [rjf5@me.com] an investor and entrepreneur discusses careers in automation over the years:

    "When I entered the automation business around 1970, computerized process control was a real growth industry.

    "So what's my advice now: If you want a pretty good middle class life and are good at math, get an engineering degree and go work for an automation company. If you really want to be an innovator, try to find a small company with a worthwhile niche market. If you want to be an entrepreneur, get a medical education and invent some device or procedure. If you want to be a millionaire, learn about finance, make a lot of good connections, and go to Wall Street.

    "But most importantly, do whatever it is that you think is fun."

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George H. Morgan [patagent@evansville.net] comments on our discussions about Education.

    "Your comments about college degrees losing value was right on. I see some of the roots of the problem on the consumer side. Often the parents of a potential college student were not college graduates, and have no clue about which degrees can pay off and which can't. This is compounded by high school counselors who really have no clue on what to advise.

    "I had a nephew, whose parents finished high school, in a small town in Southern Indiana, who graduated in 'Environmental Studies'. He took a paralegal training session later, and found work. He did law school while working for a major city, and now has a career, working for the government.

    "While liberal arts are popular, what is needed is a really good liberal arts education. Not a collection of "soft" courses that do not train a student to think. Too many of the degrees awarded are in areas where there are no jobs."

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