JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 69 : November 25, 2001

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

  • Anti-terrorism technology - 9
    • MIT-Review: Technology vs. Terror
  • Soft solutions for hard problems
  • Invensys still stewing
  • UK Worst bosses - Invensys 2-out-of-5
    • Yurko gone, Marshall still there
  • Future Forecasts
    • The world in 2050
    • Office fantasies of the future
    • Dec. 4 event: Pinto predictions for the 21st. century
  • eFeedback:
    • ABB big chief resigns - US losses mount
    • Foxboro culture change after Siebe
    • Virtual visits cannot replace hugs

Anti-terrorism technology - 9
MIT-Review: Technology vs. terror

This is the cover story and special report in the December 2001 issue of MIT Review December 2001. Four feature articles show that technology is valuable in sensing terrorist attacks of all kinds and in making our built environment more resistant to destruction.

Detecting Bioterrorism
Lives could be saved by sensors and therapies now under development -along with software that could help distinguish an anthrax assault from an outbreak of the flu.

Networking the Infrastructure
New classes of detectors, plus safer building designs, point to an "intelligent city" that senses danger.

Will Spyware Work?
Monitoring voice and e-mail traffic sounds like a good way to thwart terrorism. The problem? Sorting through the results takes too long for early warning.

Recognizing the Enemy:
Creating a central database of photos to identify terrorists through face recognition is a bureaucratic nightmare.

The Shock of the Old:
On 9/11, a nation primed for a futuristic attack failed to foresee a low-tech assault. Why?

Click MIT-Review articles Technology vs. Terror

Soft solutions for hard problems (continued)

My theme brought a big flurry of comments, suggestions, ideas, and opinions. The irrepressible Jake Brodsky bounced back with a million ideas.

It is Ignorance that exacerbates the gap between rich and poor. This follows from our previous thesis: "Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence". Ignorance is just like stupidity in that they both have low traffic flows. The difference is that an Ignoramus may have the capacity for higher traffic, whereas the Stupid does not.

We need to evangelize our principles. We need to educate the world. We need to use all tools at our disposal including propaganda, advertising, broadcasting, networking and so forth...

Democracy only works in an educated society. We ought to engage and evangelize, not withdraw support. Again, Malevolence is less destructive when a society is no longer ignorant.

Centralization is highly vulnerable. Not Science. Redundancy and parallelism will solve that problem by not exposing single points of vulnerability.

Capitalism is but one support of a society. Morality, Religion, Freedom and Education are additional supports. Saying that just capitalism doesn't solve the problem is accurate, but incomplete.

We must encourage entrepreneurship at smaller and smaller levels. Cheap communications with free movement of information are key things here. The easier it is to find out who is doing what, the easier it will be to make this happen.

Your own inputs, ideas, feedback, commentary, suggestions and encouragement will be much appreciated!

eSpeak to me: Click Jim@JimPinto.com

Invensys still stewing

Invensys’ interim results for 6 months ended 30 September 2001 were announced by the new CEO, Rick Haythornthwaite. Apparently, a lot of investors felt that the worst was over, and the stock jumped over 100 (from a recent low of 27) - not bad!

Haythornthwaite warned that it is entirely feasible that Invensys will be a very different looking group and warned that a break-up cannot be ruled out. He confirmed that a variety of businesses would be sold off, but the new shape of the company would not be revealed until February. He announced that another $0.5m might be spent in another shake-up; even as he spoke, Foxboro and others reported more RIFs and layoffs.

One distraught Foxboro employee reported:

    "On bloody Monday, Nov. 12th, 150 people were axed in the USA, Business Solutions was slaughtered and Performance Solutions was decimated. 125 were axed at EMEA, with additional reductions in the Pacific Rim. VP of Technology Larry Gozzard, who was brought in about 2 years ago, was let go on Friday. 500 more Invensys employee layoffs are planned."

Another long-term insider gave this news:

    "After being split a couple of years ago, Foxboro's systems division and the M&I (Measurement and Instrumentation) divisions are being merged (again) by March 2002. Out of this, one Quality Manager, one Test Engineering Supervisor, etc. will survive the cuts. All for the good of the bottom-line."

A source close to strategic high-command at Invensys whispered:

    "Invensys will completely ditch the Process Solutions side of the business, and will concentrate on the hardware and the servicing of their hardware alone. Talk about being myopic, it really signifies the beginning of the end. Most companies acknowledge the fact that the I&C market in North America is shrinking, and growth lies in service. Invensys will swim upstream to (maybe) spawn, but certainly die. I guess that a process solutions market value of $5 billion dollars is not worth it to them. So, is this what Leo Quinn the new President of ISS is doing?"

When rumors persisted that GE is buying Foxboro, a knowledgeable major competitor commented:

    "GE is smart enough to NOT fall for the fluff - it would be a complete surprise. We have been in talks with Invensys about buying pieces and I think that they would surely tell us to try to get some bidding going, but who knows."

Click UK Observer - Jury is still out on Invensys

Click Invensys' new boss says it will survive

Click All the Invensys you could possibly stand at MotleyFoolUK site

UK worst bosses 2000 - Invensys 2 out of 5

Last year, the UK Investors Chronicle ran a story on Britain's worst bosses in 2000 - five people who had tried and failed to live up to their jobs. The five included 2 from Invensys:
  • Allen Yurko, Invensys CEO till 6 weeks ago
    During Yurko's tenure, shares in Invensys fell from an all-time high of 400p to less than 30p recently, wiping out more than $15b of shareholder value. During the recent announcement of results Haythornthwaite, the new CEO, gave a damning indictment of the way Yurko had run the troubled company. Yurko had spent so much time on "excessive restructuring" and shedding jobs that the company had failed to look after its customers. In less than three years Yurko had shed 23,000 jobs and issued a series of profit warnings, till he eventually "resigned" (with a $ 7.5m pension in his pocket). He was paid about $1.5m a year, while the new CEO gets "only" about $1m.

    In the midst of this lambasting, Yurko "agreed to remain" till January 2002; one wonders what he is doing, and is he actually being paid a salary in the interim. Still a young man (50), where will he turn up next? Perhaps there is still someone out there who hasn't read the headlines and can still believe the Yurko yuck.

  • Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge (to give him his full title)
    The pompous and xenophobic chairman of Invensys (and also British Aerospace) is responsible for talking Yurko into merging Siebe with pig-in-a-poke BTR. He sneakily sidestepped the blame as Yurko was ditched. Now Invensys is close to dismemberment, and BA (the airline) faces perhaps its biggest challenge yet. Under pressure to resign, Marshall gave up the deputy chairmanship of BT; one wonder when he will actually be booted out of his remaining charades.

Click Britain's worst bosses 2001: where are they now?

Future forecasts

The world in 2050

Shell joined together with The Economist to launch with "The World in ____" writing prize in April 2000. The aim of the competition was to encourage debate and thought about the social, political, environmental, technological and economic issues that countries, companies and individuals will face in the middle of the 21st century.

William Douglass, age 29, from Houston, Texas beat more than 3000 entrants from 75 countries with his essay 'Dear Nestor'. The essay takes the form of a letter written by a young Bangladeshi boy to a friend in the USA in a world governed by 'The Network' where oilrigs are obsolete, and special genes and limited duration marriages are the norm.

The judges chose this entry because of the connection made between advances in technology and the unchanging importance of human relationships.

Click Read the winning entry for The world in 2050

Office Fantasies of the Future

FORTUNE magazine recently asked four of America's largest office-design companies (Knoll, Herman Miller, Haworth, and Hon Industries) to predict what our workplaces might look like 50 years from now. Unlike today's cell phones, pagers, faxes, and e-mail, which interfere with our personal interactions even as they enable them, the technology of 2050 will encourage face-to-face communication, or at the very least an excellent holographic facsimile. So say the designers. These visions may reveal the future of the workplace.

Click Fortune: Office Fantasies of the Future

Pinto Predictions for the 21st Century

On December 4, 2001, I will be speaking on this subject to the San Diego chapter of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs).

TiE is a worldwide networking and mentoring organization chartered by high profile entrepreneurs, corporate executives and senior professionals, including, but not limited to those with roots or interest in the Indus region (the Indian sub-continent).

Each month TiE San Diego has a networking meeting with guest speakers from Silicon Valley and successful enterprises to share their experiences for the benefit of TiE member entrepreneurs.

Click 4 Dec. '01 - TiE speech: Predictions for the 21st century


Commenting on the ongoing decline of the industrial automation biz, a knowledgeable industry observer wrote:
    "ABB Chairman of the Board Percy Barnevik has just resigned, admitting that things were a pig sty and that he has to share the blame. The US is really bleeding in my estimation. This year, Siemens is losing over $400 million in the US."
Jerry VanEe, [jvanee@ppco.com] an ex-employee commented on the culture change at Foxboro after Siebe acquired it:
    "In the early '90's, I entered the big bad world of selling, first for Honeywell, then Taylor which mutated to ABB-Kent Taylor. Finally, in 1995 I joined Foxboro and within 3 days of joining I realized I had made a big mistake. The problem is wrapped up in the comment you made in your last email; that is: Capitalism cannot succeed through ME-ism. If I were to sum up the pervading atmosphere at Foxboro in a single word, it would be "ME-ism."

    I am not sure how this type of thing happens in companies, but when a significant number of people in the organization put their own self-interest before everything else, the organization is in big trouble. I stayed at Foxboro just long enough to confirm it was the worst place I had ever worked, and I left after 6 months. I took the first job offer that came along.

    Bear in mind that 6 months there hardly qualifies me to speak about the over-all corporate culture. I just know that what I saw in my short time there. I also heard from several previous long time Foxboro employees that things used to be much different."

Mike Bresler disagreed on my suggestion that family get-togethers be replaced by virtual visits:
    "Do you really feel the fear of terrorism should keep us from being near our loved ones? Should we surrender the thrill of hugging a grandchild and sharing Thanksgiving dinner in exchange for a sense of increased security? But, you were just kidding right?

    "Most of us have a far greater chance of being killed in a traffic accident than by a terrorist act. If past statistics are a reliable indication, more than 6000 people have been killed on our highways since September 11. Where's the outrage and fear of driving? And since the highways are so dangerous, maybe I should quit driving to the grocery store. Had all those e-grocers not gone bankrupt I could ask them to risk their lives getting groceries to my home. And while they were here I could pay them to open my mail, knowing there's a possibility (one in several billion) one of the letters could contain anthrax. Where does it end?"

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