Perspectives from the Stair Newsletter shows you how to drive profit by resolving the risks in your business. Our 2014 theme: Fluency, launches with Q1: Language Fluency
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Image: Brisbane's Story Bridge
Volume II, Issue 3

Did you know the language of risk is written with geckos' toes?

Oth­er than cool al­lit­er­at­ive ef­fect, why would we say something so out­land­ish?

Like so many things in our nat­ur­al world, the ap­pear­ance of child­like sim­pli­city cloaks mind-bend­ing com­plex­ity: geck­os' toes stick in­stantly, yet re­lease eas­ily, which is ex­actly what ef­fect­ive com­mu­ni­ca­tors must do as they swim through oceans of "big data" find­ing the people – not the data, the people – who know what we need to know to move our ini­ti­at­ives for­ward, wheth­er they be:
  • discovering hidden risks
  • deploying new process, product or business model innovations, or
  • effectively integrating with our supply chain partners to improve resiliency,
etc., etc., etc.…

Geckos' toes have a 1900:1 "stick­i­ness quo­tient" mean­ing that if a 2.5 oz (70g) gecko had every one of its spe­cial­ized hairs in con­tact with a sur­face, it would be cap­able of main­tain­ing a sus­pen­ded weight of 290 lb (133 kg)!!

gecko lifting capacity
Those who claim it ain't so might as well disagree with gravity or say the sun rises in the east. The gecko can hold 1900+ times its own weight due to the atomic-level Van der Waal’s forces generated by how close the mushroom-cap-style setæ hairs on its feet are in contact with a surface.

The Systemkeyâ„¢ Risk Modeling Language (SRML) delivers the same outlandish advantages to those who learn to speak the language of risk. It's as simple as learning to ride a bike, yet far more rewarding in the course of your business life!

We start simply and move forward in strategic steps, which is why we have started 2014 with Language Fluency. The three first steps are clarity, clarity, clarity. Great results in:
  • Customer Service
  • Safety (HSE)
  • Operations
  • Risk Discovery & Resolution
arise from aggressive awareness of the complete project envelope. The counter-intuitive result of following these recommendations is that misunderstandings and errors in each of these important business areas:
  • Order
  • Design
  • Fabricate
  • Code
simply evaporate when we communicate the language of risk effectively.


Learn how you can gain fluency in the language of risk, right now!
Brad Moore, MBA

Brad Moore joins as advisor

We are excited to announce that Brad Moore, MBA, of Embarcadero Technologies, has elected to come on-board as an advisor. Brad brings his global experience in sales training and product | market positioning to advance our vision of "transforming how risk is measured and managed, from the seabed to the stars."

embarcadero logo


Sustainability is everyone's job!

For more than a century Intrepid Voyager, insightful commenters have have decried the bobos who expect others to keep them safe, secure, and technology enabled, without having to stretch themselves or confront their assumptions, fears & prejudices.

Heralds ranging from today's Marc Scott to EM Forster's 1909 classic book & movie, The Machine Stops, expose low-information citizens as a huge risk for society as a whole! While I absolutely agree that the beginner's market is lucrative, is fostering dependency a safe, sustainable way to go?

In terms that are Grandma simple, other people have to read your stuff. Make it:
  • easy for them to do so,
  • easy for them to ask questions
  • worthwhile for them to help you succeed.

Mass Media Merchants of Mayhem

While it has taken decades, the merchants of mayhem in mass media have quite successfully developed and deployed a mindset where it is ok to be a "dummy" (as in the financially successful “for Dummies” book series), also called a low-information segment of the population.

This outlook; an aggressive myopia that cannot be bothered with basic facts about the physics, chemistry and economics of how the world really works, shows itself across topics from sports to culture to finance, as presented in these articles:  

Expanding Capacity for Risk Discovery

Our focus as a "chamber of commerce for risk," is on expanding the capacity of our member organizations to drive profit and reduce waste by discovering the risks hidden in their operations. The most sought-after way to do that in the coming five years is acquiring cross-disciplinary insights, to see where others can't, so we produce astonishing results. Systemkeyâ„¢ Solutions produce on average, 850x+ ROI for enterprise and global engagements. Detailed derivation of that amazing rolling average is readily available, contact us to see if you qualify for an RDA or RRE. (No such claim asserted for our small business training events.)

Let me illustrate:

Knowing that people develop shorthand when they speak and write with their peers in a technical group, the systems thinker realizes this gets in the way of true understanding. 4 concrete, simple-to-implement solutions:


1 Forbid acronyms in primary documents:

Not blueprints or manufacturing docs, but the documents of origin, the "source" documents. Yes, it will cause the "experts" to go into cardiac arrest, do it anyway.

Following the basics of the way the brain functions, the ergonomic truth of teaching engineering is that to assure a valid "build-to-spec" takes 8x the communication of the spec itself. A simpler way to understand this and to graphically represent it is that build-to-spec requires 23 times the communication.

Comprehension requires confirmation

Reading alone will not suffice in the majority of cases. Every step in the build-to-spec process goes through each of these 4 steps with a send-acknowledge on every step (that's where the 8 comes from).
  1. A tells B (some reading, some hands on)
  2. B has to internalize it
  3. B communicates it back to A
  4. A concurs with B's understanding
Then after all that, you have to go do it! Having the 8x upfront exponentially speeds up the actual build. This "repeat-back" is routinely practiced in: When people tell me this 8-fold increase in sharing understanding is not essential, I relate the story of watching a presenter meltdown in front of a WSESRB panel because they could not explain how the part on the screen interacted with the parts from another contractor also present in the room.

The Board Chair's retort was that the contractor had submitted stand-alone subsystems analyses stapled together with a coversheet rather than the contractually-required systems level integrated analysis.

COMMON FOLK RECAP: Other people have to read your stuff. Make it easy for them to do so. Make it easy for them to ask questions and make it worthwhile for them to help you succeed.

The reason behind banning acronyms (at the beginning, not the manufacturing phase) is because it causes people to think about what they are writing and almost invariably improves the end document. If it's confusing to the writer herself, it's going to be worse for the technician or auditor trying to read it down the pike. Exercising the discipline to produce readable engineering prose is not hard, it's just uncommon. "Train harder than you plan to fight" and it gets easier with every document the team produces.


2 Allow only meetings fitting this criteria:

Those attending have received the agenda and any attachments, have read and digested them and have supplied written comments on the matter(s) at hand.

With these comments, the chair or their assigned support staff have collated those comments into degrees of concurrency ("stuff that is the same"). As above, this is not hard, it's just uncommon. When the folks meeting each other actually assemble, each and every one of them knows – and knows everyone else knows – why they are meeting and what they have in common and where they differ.

These difference and concurrencies are provided in chart form by CLIN or other designator, so there is no source for grandstanding: the debate centers on resolving the specific differences for which the meeting was actually called.


3 Host the meeting standing up:

Literally, provide no chairs and explain that everyone is motivated to wrap up the meeting as soon as they have reached a conclusion they can defend to an auditor months or years from now. This requirement especially shakes out good pre-meeting prep, which saves FTE labor costs, saves rework and overall has shown to typically improve morale in manufacturing environments.


4 Engage the graphics function 27x more than currently:

There is no way to deliver an integrated systems analysis without being able to describe how your components interact with the system as a whole. Achieving on-budget, on-schedule deliveries means 33 (3-cubed or 27-times) more communication than the typical project.

Have your graphics function provide scalable images (.ai, .eps, .svg, etc.) that can be used throughout the project "body of knowledge" to "embed experience in print" from those priceless experts on the manufacturing floor who have actually built these systems (or elements of them) and know the physical realities of what it takes to do that blind concave weld your design calls for.

To achieve an on-schedule, on-budget build-to-spec, the team should expect, budget and schedule frequent (weekly, fortnightly, the specifics vary by project), 3-d build reviews, so that this product, in both software and hardware, becomes "viscerally real" to those in design, finance, reqs/specs, V&V, logistics, etc.

Pushing Communications Clarity to the "System of Systems" level of integration

Specifically the 27x figure (3-cubed) arises from going 2-d to 3-d: with the additional layer that you now have to explain your component's:
  • role
  • function
  • mission
in its relationship to other parts both physically adjacent and logically adjacent in operational flow.

Radical Improvements result from:

Not more meetings! Rather more:
  • transparent, structured questions in talking and writing
  • "structured response emails"
  • one-to-one phone calls
  • conference calls (following the discipline of correlated comments)
  • one-on-few white board sketches
  • involvement of "green-eyeshade finance peeps" with real manufacturing technicians.

Let Us Show You How to Blend High Tech & High Touch to Drive Sustainability & Profit

Limited time free access to webinar

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Announcing STI Press
2014 Spring Catalog 

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even when they didn't call it that.

Remember, if you're not having fun, you're just flat out not seeing the full picture!
(pun intended)
(Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, 1956)

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