JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 68 : November 14, 2001

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

  • Anti-terrorist technology - 8
    • Technology Survey
  • Peter Drucker on "The Near Future"
  • Soft Solutions for Hard Problems
  • Justifying Marketing during hard times
  • Scott Adams' Dilbert wisdom
  • eFeedback:
    • Distributed vs. centralized technologies
    • Soft Solutions - geographically varying challenges
    • Invensys mess - with a machine-gun in the background

Anti-terroist technology - 8
Technology Survey

Technology alone can't keep us safe from terrorism. But in our determination to prevent such acts from happening ever again, technology remains a potent weapon.

Here, a survey of America's high-tech means of defense - compiled by Business 2.0 Staff in their Nov. 2001 Issue.

  • Weapons of the secret war - How the shadowy science of signals intelligence, honed in the drug wars, can help us fight terrorism.
  • How a Bomb Sniffer Works - Airport security isn't foolproof, but when it comes to detecting bombs and drugs, ion mobility spectrometry comes close.
  • Spotting the Bad Guys - Advances in face recognition software could soon help shield airports and American embassies.
  • The De-Hijacking Switch - Soon, authorities may be able to remotely seize control of a hijacked plane and land it safely.
  • The El Al Approach - A look at the Israeli airline's security procedures.

Click Business 2.0 anti-terrorist technology survey

Here are some more suggested links:

Peter Drucker on "The Near Future"

At 92 (born 1909), famed sage and management guru Peter Drucker is more than ever incisive, challenging and mind stretching. In his latest articles, published after 9/11, he explains how the future will differ from today and what needs to be done to prepare for it.

The "new economy" may or may not materialize, but there is no doubt that the next society will be with us shortly. In the developed world, and probably in the emerging countries as well, this "new society" will be more important than any "new economy". It will be quite different from the society of the late 20th century and different from what most people expect. Much of it will be unprecedented. And most of it is already here, or is rapidly emerging.

In the developed countries, the dominant factor in the next society will be the rapid growth in the older population and the rapid shrinking of the younger generation.

Will the Corporation Survive? Peter Drucker insists that it will, but not as we know it. In the future there will be not one kind of corporation but several different ones. Legally and perhaps financially, it may look much the same; but instead of there being a single model adopted by everyone, there will be a range of models to choose from.

Click Drucker - The Near Future (Part I)

Click Drucker - The Near Future (Part II)

Drucker's most recent book (2000) "Management Challenges for the 21st Century" includes new and revolutionary ideas and perspectives on the central management issues of the new century. This book is forward-looking and forward thinking. Those who prepare themselves for the new challenges today will be the new leaders who will dominate tomorrow. If you are in management of any kind, you MUST read this book!

Click Link to Peter Drucker's "Management Challenges" book

Soft Solutions for hard problems

I started digging into the "Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence" theme, and got a lot of feedback - stupidity being lack of "bandwidth" etc. - thanks!

Now I've been catapulted into a new and significantly more important issue, initiated in my last eNews (6 Nov. '01) that has already captured my psyche and passion - "soft solutions for hard problems". The feedback I have already received is overwhelmingly positive, and motivates me to continue pursuing the subject.

More than anything else, September 11, 2001 represents a benchmark, a transition to a new century where old solutions are no longer applicable. New, hard problems have arisen, which defy the hard technology solutions of the past. To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Our streamlined F-16s and B-52s look like hammers, trying to hit mosquitoes.

Indeed, the low-tech box cutters served to demonstrate the exposed vulnerabilities of an open democracy. The malevolence is elusive because it is not visible. The subsequent widespread cutbacks and the efforts to provide relief through government aid, demonstrate the fragility and inadequacy of capitalistic enterprise with a short-term profit motive.

Please do NOT mistake my rhetoric as an argument against capitalism or democracy - I am a staunch and an ardent believer in both. Here I am simply seeking solutions to the hard problems that have been exposed. My purpose is to point out that both capitalism and democracy will need to adapt to the realities of the new age. It is clear that the problems we face are hard and cannot be solved by the old hard solutions that might have been effective in the past. New, soft solutions are needed.

Here are some of the new century's hard problems, with possible soft solutions:

  • The global village exacerbates the gap between rich and poor; vast populations view our excesses while they subsist. Letís educate the less fortunate so that, rather than see the seedy side, they are exposed to the freedoms and warmth of our culture.
  • We espouse democracy - but, if the world was truly democratic (beyond artificial boundaries) things would be very different. Supporting democracy in some developing countries has been called "too messy" - so, under the guise of non-interference, we prop up and placate dictatorships. To be true to our democratic principles we should withdraw our support for non-democratic governments.
  • Science-based society is highly vulnerable to destruction by high-concept-low-tech terrorism with opposing values. Beyond just guarding against terrorism, letís work to correct the causes.
  • Capitalism is still the best way to make money, but does not generate value beyond self-enrichment for a few, with trickle-down benefits for the rest. Capitalism cannot succeed through ME-ism - we must find more ways to foster US-ism.
  • Corporations crumble easily under even short-term stress. Employee-ownership has already broadened participation in the fruits of success. Let us find more ways to encourage longer-term perspectives on a broader front.
Your inputs, ideas, feedback, commentary, suggestions and encouragement will be much appreciated!

eSpeak to me: Click Jim@JimPinto.com

Justifying Marketing during hard times

Throughout the automation industry, heads are rolling and a lot of those heads are in marketing. My friend, marketing guru Walt Boyes insists that marketing is worth doing; knowing what to do and how to do it might not only save your job, but might even save your company.

Many industrial automation companies are ambivalent about marketing. In many cases, financially driven management sees no need for it, and it is the first department to be cut in belt-tightening spasms. Some of the largest instrumentation and automation companies have excellent marketing departments, though even those have been decimated during recent RIFs. Many small and medium sized companies have very little marketing focus and in tough times they barely survive. Today Marketing should be looking for new growth and leadership opportunities.

How can YOU make a good case for maintaining marketing budgets during these tough times? Well, read Walt Boyes' comments: "Justifying Marketing in Hard Times" - a feature article in the Nov. '01 issue of AutomationTechies.com, a web-based career resource for automation industry professionals.

Click Walt Boyes : Justifying Marketing in Hard Times

Scott Adams' Dilbert wisdom

Are YOU among the 400,000 members of DNRC (Dogbert's New Ruling Class)? If you read the free Dilbert Newsletter, you are. Scott Adams (the originator of this popular cartoon strip) thinks that you're probably more "attractive, generous and intelligent" than others who don't.

You've seen the Dilbert comic-strip - apart from being published in almost every US newspaper, Omega Engineering (the world leader in catalog sales of industrial sensors and instrumentation) uses it very effectively in their advertising.

Dilbert is an engineer (of course) and is the brunt of a lot of "Induhvidual" confusion along with his "Cow-orkers". Here are some samples of Dilbert wisdom in these true (sent in by DNRC) quotes from Induhvidual bosses and Cow-orkers, extracted from the latest Dilbert newsletter:

Cow-worker quotes:

    "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed horse is king!"
    "A two-prawn approach is necessary."
    "He won't last, he's just a flash in the pants."
    "It's a catch 20-20."
    "I think you might have hit the nail on the button."
    "...caught between a rock and a wet spot."
    "Don't worry; I've got an ace up my hole."
    "the carrot at the end of the tunnel."
    "We are going to be shooting from the seat of our pants"
Induhvidual boss quotes:
    "Our company is like a living orgasm."
    "Vision is in the eyes of the beholder."
    "Part of the verbiage is a language thing."
    "Eventually, I want it now."
    "It's not that kind of zero."
    "There are a lot of areas for efficiency reductions."
    "In the last year, you've turned around 150%."
Truth is funnier than fiction -
    When a high-powered exec. walked into the lunch room, a secretary remarked that she couldn't stand him because he was "so ego-testicle." One of her cow-orkers spit coffee out of his nose, which just added to the moment.

Click Join the DNRC - subscribe to the (free) Dilbert Newsletter

Click The official Dilbert website


After reading Ray Kurzweil's comments on distributed vs. centralized technologies, Cary S Hillebrand [carycnb@juno.com] responded:
    "It is worth pondering whether a trend from centralized to distributed technologies is in reality a mixed blessing, and perhaps a double edged source. While the Internet makes it possible for dispersed people to come together in "virtual communities", it also fosters reclusiveism as people do not have the face to face contact and hence develop a growing sense of isolation and alienation. Many may find it hard to draw the line as to where their e-mail, or virtual self, ends and the flesh and bones self begins.

    "I especially take issue with Ray's thesis that 'Centralized technologies tend to be inefficient, wasteful, and harmful to the environment.' IMHO, the reverse is true. Since the end of WW II we have reaped the bitter fruits of decentralization, as we have abandoned the cities to realize the American dream in the countryside. Cities, with their density, can be serviced by a more compact infrastructure, encourage use of walking to work or to the corner store or use of public transportation instead of reliance on the private auto for every mission. Sub urbanization eats up valuable farmland and natural ecosystems, replacing greenery and water recharge with impervious surfaces and the abandonment of the corner store in favor of the ugly and bland suburban mall. Human interaction is brought to a minimum as people do not meet on the bus, or the main street, but rather are isolated, each in his/her SUV. Hardly what I would call 'relatively benign in their environmental effects'."

Paul Prick van Wely [paul@vanwely.nl] wrote about "soft solutions":
    "People are the soft things in society - technology is the enabler. The problems you mention are challenges indeed.

    "I live in Europe, in The Netherlands, and have a different understanding, feeling and mind set from the way you look at capitalism. We have a government where always more than one party is in power. The democrats and liberals have to work out all things with the socialists. So, you can become rich - but it is not self-enrichment for a few and does not out conflict with other values. If you live in an Arabic country where everything flows from, and is decided by, royal families you get a totally different "few" and a different kind of capitalism.

    "The point I want to make is that we must first understand the challenges, and accept that in different part of the world there are very different ways of handling and fulfilling these challenges."

Regarding the Invensys mess, a Foxboro veteran wrote sadly:
    "I agree with all your points - no-one inside Invensys can handle Henderson's post. They either don't have the right combination of experience or they are just thugs. Leo Quinn is inexperienced and naive and will soon be squashed from within. "I'm shy to have you use my name, because right now I am waiting to see how the higher-ups will re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. I did have a chance to present my views on how we should drive the strategy, and how we could get major customers very excited. But, everyone was very, very distracted and nothing happened. "You may recall a cartoon that was circulating about 10 years ago where a medieval king is standing in front of his army using spears preparing for battle, and he is pushing away his advisors; there was a salesman in the background with a machine gun. That cartoon is very appropriate right now."

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