Archive for February, 2015

Global Workforce Provocative Implications

February 25th, 2015. Published under Insider Threats, Systemic Risk. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   February 25, 2015   ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

Provocative implications for safeguarding information assets…

What follows are findings of a study produced by DoD’s Personnel Security Research Center (PERSEREC). The findings of this study titled, ‘Technological, Social, and Economic Trends That Are Increasing U.S. Vulnerabiliy to Insider Espionage’ does retain some relevancy today as it did when it was initially published in May, 2005.

For some, the findings may be contentious, divisive, arrogant…

Admittedly, the study’s findings could be viewed as prognosticative and challenging a rationale for a globally diverse workforce. Having had substantive discussions with the study’s principle investigators, I sensed absolutely no suggestion to support either perspective.

The study produced these largely intangible indicators…

The Internet…

  1. expanded global marketplace for proprietary information assets.
  2. has become an efficient marketplace to bring sellers-seekers-buyers together to exchange information in relative anonymity
  3. elevates awareness about information asset value and recognition it can be sold for a profit.
  4. internationalized science and commerce and places employees in positions to foster – sustain global contacts some of whom interest lie in adversely exploiting such relationship.
  5. permits individuals to retain emotional, ethnic, and financial ties at will to other countries coupled with less inclination to seek U.S. citizenship

Fewer employees are deterred by conventional sense of loyalty…

  1. growing allegiance to a global community that integrates global – national values.
  2. less inclined to view espionage – theft of information assets to be morally wrong.
  3. may view such acts as being justifiable if they feel that sharing them will benefit the world community or prevent armed conflict.
  4. inclination of those engaged in multinational trade/transactions to regard unauthorized transfer of information assets-technology as a business matter rather than an act of betrayal.
  5. tendency to view human society as an evolving system of ethnically and ideologically diverse and interdependent individuals/groups which make illicit acts easier to rationalize.

These findings, in my judgment, prompt many additional questions about the entire spectrum of the ‘insider threat’.  For example, there remains a need to genuinely and objectively assess…

  1. Employee reactions to the elevated intensity and frequency which external entities are targeting (soliciting) their company and their knowledge!
  2. Employee propensity – proclivity to (a.) convey receptivity to external solicitors – buyers of a companies’ information assets, and/or (b.) independently seek prospective buyers.
  3. Also, if such proclivities – propensities exist, do they coincide with or become exacerbated by the conventional precursors – motivators (of insider theft), i.e., disgruntlement, unmet expectations, personal predispositions, financial stress, etc.

Ultimately, the challenges presented by these findings to U.S. companies will, in all likelihood require specialized familiarity and skill sets to effectively address.  This is especially critical given the economic – business reality that today, 80+% of most companies’ value, sources of revenue and ‘building blocks’ for profitability, growth, and sustainability lie in – emerge directly from intangible assets!

As always, reader comments are respected and welcome!

Frugal Innovation Perfect Environment for Intangible Asset Growth

February 23rd, 2015. Published under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    February 23, 2015   ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

Frugal innovation is…Conceptually frugal innovation is a strategy for pursuing innovation in circumstances and environments in which there are few resources and few means, perhaps more so, but certainly not limited to emerging market countries.

Frugal innovation is widely characterized as representing circumstances where there is a managed convergence of stimulated and skilled intellectual, structural, and relationship capital with an inspiration to create innovation to respectfully benefit users – consumers residing at the lower end of a regions’ socio-economic pyramid, e.g., where affordability constraints are at work.

Frugal innovation objectives…The objectives of frugal innovation are as varied as needs warrant, for example, designing more near term business models or redesigning particular products and/or services to serve targeted beneficiaries in scalable, affordable, and sustainable manner.

Those engaged in frugal innovation typically identify in advance, needs, voids, resource constraints, and projected innovations’ relevance and attractivity with the intent to create more inclusive (broader) markets (Bhatti, 2011) to the intended-projected (targeted) users – beneficiaries.

Frugal innovation makes the most of what people control, their intangible assets…Frugal innovation is also often characterized as a ‘local phenomenon’ because entrepreneurs-innovators make the most of what they actually control, i.e., their intangible assets (know how, intellectual and structural capital). Even though frugal innovation is seldom characterized in this manner, it is routinely structured around developing products-services to solve particular problems at the most practical and sustainable levels. (Read full piece at ‘Business IP and Intangible Asset Blog’

In the west, it’s top down innovation…For a variety of reasons, the conventional ‘top down’ innovation born in the west, by design, at least initially, typically targets higher end consumers – users. Too, western innovation largely is committed to traditional, some characterize as archaic, business and distribution models-channels which are reliant on consistent abundance of non-sustainable resources, which frequently elevates product R&D and manufacturing costs.  Collectively, advocates of frugal innovation suggest this makes numerous (S&T) innovations unaffordable – out of reach to ‘just as needy’ individuals at the lower levels of countries’ socio-economic pyramid. Ideally, frugal innovation can be configured to find attractivity to successive higher levels of ‘pyramid’ users.

Frugal innovation purists…In actual practice, the purist frugal innovator is less apt to characterize the absence of regulatory oversight or resources in emerging market countries, as being insurmountable or necessarily momentum stifling hurdles, rather as leverage points to mitigate such necessities, as is incumbent in the West, for investment entry for R&D, etc.

Multiple dimensions to frugal innovation…There are multiple dimensions to frugal innovation which I believe many parties would be well advised to acquire familiarity.  For example, frugal innovation is not just limited to cost, manufacturing, or distribution issues.  Rather, a driving theme to frugal innovation which GE’s Jeffrey Immelt is known to apply, is that it is a ‘simplification in all aspects of process and outcomes’! (This post was inspired by the work ofYasser Bhatti, a Higher Education Commission doctoral scholar at the Said Business School, University of Oxford.)

 As always reader comments are respected and most welcome.

St. Louis, Reputation Risk Keeps On Giving!

February 18th, 2015. Published under Reputation risk., Systemic Risk. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly – February 19, 2015   ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

St. Louis’ reputation clearly at risk… Make no mistake, reputation is a company or cities’ most prized and valuable intangible asset, but it comes with risk. In the past six months alone, we have witnessed numerous examples of corporate and individual reputations’ plummeting due to systemic and (company) culture risks surfacing as well as prominent and/or celebrated individuals engaging in behaviors – actions that were not merely risky, but criminal.  In either circumstance, the outcomes are often similar, with either losing, sometimes irreversibly, revenue, goodwill, and image.

Now, with DoJ’s pending suit against the Ferguson Police Department, preceded by St. Louis native Michael Gerson’s skillful, but stinging characterization of St. Louis’ reputation on PBS’ NewsHour recently, this city’s reputation, once again, lies at the mercy of a global audience. The recent incident that unfurled on the parking lot of a Berkley gas station prompted Ms. Woodruff (co-managing editor of PBS’ NewsHour) to raise the relevant, but perhaps disparaging question to Mr. Gerson and Mr. Shields, ”what’s going on in St. Louis”?

Impending sightseeing tours… It should come as no surprise then, not unlike New Orleans’ lower 9th Ward, following Hurricane Katrina, that St. Louis sightseeing tours will likely, if they haven’t already, include, visits to the Shaw neighborhood, the communities of Ferguson and Berkley, and Clayton’s Justice Center each of which was the origin of countless hours of live video feeds globally. Do you, like I, wonder who will write the narrative for these sure to come ‘sight seeing’ tours?

Reputation nosedive, irreversible, permanent, or salvageable… To bestow absolutely no disrespect to any of the tragic events that have occurred, or the words that have been spoken, and the hurt that is now unforgettably embedded since mid-August, 2014, our city’s reputation has taken a decided nosedive.

Materialization of reputation risks like this are humanly, emotionally, and intellectually quick, with the economic and competitive advantage consequences moving at a somewhat slower pace insofar as being fully felt. But, perhaps the latter will be one motivator that brings committed people to the table.

Precisely how the adverse reputation St. Louis has acquired is subject to some qualification. That is, how citizens of St. Louis, outside observers, visitors, and prospective businesses wishing to expand or relocate in greater St. Louis are variously dependent on how they personally understand the origins and reasons that collectively contributed to this city’s current reputational state. Obviously, merely returning to its former state, absent viable, relatively quick, permanent, and sustainable change would be a devastating blow to reputation re-builds.

Reconciliation… Experience suggests the answers to these critical questions are inseparable from the emotional trauma following the death of loved ones to their families, friends, and supporters. Deeply rooted emotional wounds of this magnitude take time to reach some point of psychological and emotional reconciliation, should it ever occur. In 2015, I would not forecast that to commence absent viable, acceptable, and trustworthy options being on the table for near term financing, execution, and follow-through.

Make no mistake… But, make no mistake, the city of St. Louis, many of its citizens, and to be sure, its businesses, large and small, have and will continue to receive both subtle and direct questions about conducting business with firms in a city with a globally tarnished civil rights reputation. That includes businesses with prospects of locating in St. Louis. The latter of course is difficult to quantify, but let there be no doubt, such issues have already been on the agenda in numerous boardrooms and c-suites across America, as well they should!

Not in my backyard… All this leaves me genuinely puzzled by the opposition to Reverend Larry Rice’s downtown shelter for homeless and how this issue is being addressed by a coalition of downtown businesses. Admittedly, my familiarity with this issue is far from that of an insider. I did however, observe a Rice shelter opponent being interviewed locally who, quite naively, in my judgment, note Rice’ shelters’ coded capacity vs. actual occupancy was the reason why existing downtown businesses are leaving and prospective businesses are electing to situate elsewhere. Through my lens as mitigating reputation risk, I am quite confident opposition of this type can only exacerbate St. Louis’ endeavor to recoup its reputation. There are always suitable and viable options, providing of course, decision makers are genuinely willing to look for them.

As always, reader comments are respected and encouraged.

Reputational Risks For Entire Countries…?

February 9th, 2015. Published under Reputation risk.. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   February 9, 2015   ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!

I have written frequently about ‘reputation risk’ in my blog, primarily at the company/corporate level, i.e., what it is, contributing factors, how companies‘ shoot themselves in their foot’, the various ways it can adversely affect companies, how to monitor it, and strategies to try to mitigate – recover from it once it materializes.

But, admittedly, I had not given much thought to sovereign countries experiencing reputational risks other than what I would experience through the lens of my own travels or the generic ‘country reports’ produced by the U.S. State Department, Office of U.S. Trade Representative, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Both New York Times columnist David Brooks and Syndicated Columnist, Mark Shields concurred on last Friday’s PBS NewsHour, which I respectfully paraphrase here, much attention this past week, as well it should, was riveted on revulsion to the immolation of the Jordanian pilot, something which Brooks believes the U.S. should avoid an overreaction, but nevertheless prompted many to examine the Obama administration’s strategy for dealing with terrorists, particularly IS.  These are acts of terror, they constitute taunts and provocations designed to make people feel afraid and helpless and they are insults to a sense of humanity. But, Brooks cautioned not to overreact because that gives IS power’.

The U.S. (administration) should remind itself, Brooks suggests, of its mission for democracy, absent that, doing what resources, prudence, and politics will allow to contribute to the Middle East becoming more receptive to pluralism and democracy is all the more challenging with any moral high ground being at risk. Then, it is no longer about morality, rather about barbarism, which IS appears to want to be in charge of, with the West responding, Brooks argues.

The U.S. does need to do what it can however, each option embedded with complexities and trade-offs beyond most imagination. But, the things the U.S. and other allied countries are doing now, Brooks believes, appear insufficient, but should include…

  • degrading IS, which it is occurring with the bombing campaigns in Iraq and a few towns in Syria which Brooks translates as IS will forever have a refuge for wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.
  • the U.S. recognizing it should not involve itself in on-going battles’ over its status and its capabilities vs. their status and their capabilities, i.e., they kill one of us, the U.S. or the Jordanians will kill two of them. This constitutes a descent into barbarism.

Both Brooks and Shields hope that particular act will serve as recognition that will cannot be imported! In other words, the will to degrade and defeat IS must come from within.

But, if the U.S. becomes so offended by IS acts that it meld into a de facto ally of yesterdays’ adversary, that’s not a circumstance any country in the West should covet, but, as Brooks points out, when the U.S. appears to be switching between the two, that becomes a recipe for long-term reputational disaster!

As always, reader comments are respected and encouraged.