Perspectives from the Stair Newsletter shows you how to drive profit by resolving the risks in your business. Our 2014 theme: Fluency, celebrates Q2: Number Fluency
View this email in your browser.  Use Gmail? » primary tab. Thanks!
Preheader Facebook icon Preheader Linked-in icon Preheader Twitter icon Preheader Google+ icon Preheader Pinterest icon
Image: Brisbane's Story Bridge
Perspectives from the Stair: Volume II, Issue 7


1: How do we calculate the long-term Cost of Inaction?


Invest a little now, or pay exponentially later

Matt Weilert
In this issue we'll address some of the residual risks in both:
  • » our national in­fra­struc­ture and
  • » our global economy,
risks that can be resolved – if will reawaken the resolve, the back­bone and the moral fibre that made us the Shining City on a Hill, as mentioned in Per­spect­ives from the Stair Vol II, Issue 5. Note: future references use the form Perspectives II (5).

Wise Investing

Those folks who have bought into the modern media myth of "in­ter­net time" are plaster-cast copies of real leaders.

Seasoned, mature servant leaders who understand the depth and nuances of Peter Drucker's timeless comment 'People are not blocks of wood' (from The Effective Executive), recognize the difference between patience and mere inaction.


Back in January, in Perspectives II (1), we introduced the vocal coaching leitmotif of push, pause, push. The logo »|»is one of an endless variety of ways to express the "invest now, reap later" philosophy. [Return to EditCal:Q2]

That willingness to invest is at the heart of the Tough Love shown by the very best teachers such as Jerry Kupchynsky, Mary Poplin and Béla & Márta Károlyi.

As strongly as I believe in mentoring, I also believe in the unrelenting pursuit of excellence, the kind that is much out of favor today, as it requires self-discipline and self-sacrifice to become the best version of ourselves.

An excellent example is Kupchynsky's success at growing, fostering and molding such a wide variety of successful citizens: doctors, attorneys and yes, career musicians, such as his own daughter Melanie. Those sowing long-term value give "constructive, even painful, feedback," say Ericsson, Prietula & Cokely in their HBR article, The Making of an Expert.

In our last issue, Perspectives II (6), we introduced the idea "Take care of the minutes, the quarters will take care of themselves" which not only provides the marvelous time = money play on words, it gives us another way to express the value of gaining fluency in shifting not only the scale of our mental model (forest & trees), but shifting between mental models of how we view the world, so that we're not caught in our own version of the Emperor's New Clothes.

Register your team for Elegant eMail™ to resolve the top business communication error. "Answer the questions asked" with business intimacy!
Perspectives from the Stair is a rich content newsletter designed to engage leaders in a specific 19 day learn, review and teach pattern for the lessons in each issue. For those who want to breeze through while multi-tasking 8 other things, you're shopping in the wrong aisle, Boz. That dog don't hunt, as we say in Texas. If you'd like to learn more, reach out to our publisher on linkedin. Someone will respond promptly.

2: 2014 Theme Fluency – Per­spect­ives Editorial Calendar


Offering a Roadmap to
Cross-Disciplinary Insights

Stanley Watau
Now in our 7th issue for the 2014 theme of "Fluency" it's a good time to make sure that we're on-course.

Editorial Calendar showing progression of four levels of business fluency

Our Editorial Calendar charts a course for the astute and diligent business leader to achieve exponential improvements in their risk signature by the close of the year. The larger view of the EditCal image highlights our 19 day learn, review and teach cycles.

In Q1: Language Fluency, we outlined exercises to foster the organizational culture that gets people to tell us what we need to hear, rather than what they think we want to hear. Every language has both a syntax and a grammar and the "tribal language" unique to each organization is no different.

We extend the push, pause, push vocal coaching metaphor into the world of counting with Q2: Number Fluency. Issues will feature business fables (such as [1],[2]) and exercises to equip business leaders with increased capacity to "look beyond the raw digits" to see the numbers as the outlines of the people story within.

Linda Gojak speaks of Math Fluency in just these terms. Just like a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant loves his men without any of the sappy sen­ti­ment­al­ity of Hollywood fare; speaking with number fluency involves the discipline & drills that are familiar to the budding orchestra musician and the Olympic-hopeful gymnast.


An easy recipe?

In high-level overview, applying number fluency to business is a very simple 3 step process: Risks » Opportunities » Profit. Just like the Karolyis' years of disciplined training developed Olympic Champions, simple & straightforward does not mean easy. If you are looking for easy, go home. Understanding the grammar and syntax of the language of mathematics means that we have to up-end the apple cart when performance takes a backseat to political correctness.

In Q2: Number Fluency, we'll briefly address the massive dichotomy between math education claims and performance. With a bit of irony, the fact that the timeless methods of live-teacher-led instruction work so well is only surprising to the self-appointed elite. (see [3],[4])


Effective Instructors are:

  • » Alive: move around the classroom/workspace/event hall, building bridges of instructional intimacy » Cor ad cor loquitur…

  • » Blenders of old & new: live-teacher-led discussions & lessons, drills and patient explanations, tailored in real-time, as only a person fully engaged in the moment can do, produce better outcomes in math, gym­nastics and playing the violin – for the same reasons. Video-driven instruction styles (vs. Instructor|discussion-driven, video supported) lack even a fraction of the nuanced bandwidth of the alert live teacher.

  • » Strict: while we work hard, the rewards are worth it » Aut disce aut discede. (Learn or leave)

  • » Instructionally intense: no wasted time » Quantum potes tantum aude. (Dare to do as much as you can)

  • » Virtue-Driven: we sow the time-tested traditional values of mutual respect, hard work, personal responsibility, persistence, commitment to excellence, hopefulness, honesty, thinking ahead and 'seeing around the corner' (in parent terms: consider consequences before acting).

  • » Strong relationship builders: we witness a strong respect for students and a faith in their abilities. Good elicits good more often than not. » Cor ad cor loquitur, coram mens est praesens ad animum. (Heart speaks to heart before mind is open to mind.)

With Q3: Cultural Fluency, we'll launch a major initiative aimed at accelerating career success for those who choose the classical STEM fields. If you have a passion for making a difference, contact us to see if you qualify for the training pipeline to become a Sophrosyne Ambassador!

Weaving all these threads together in Q4: Customer Service Fluency, we'll wrap up the year with business fables (such as [5],[6]) and excercises that give practical evidence that superlative customer service is among the most effective risk reduction strategies any company can deploy.
Like Cost of Inaction (COI): Are you the next Target? on Facebook
Show us some love!


Leadership Lessons
of a Sushi Chef

Read the launch announcement on Whitney Johnson's Blog

3: Is your firm the next Target?


Avoiding Target Corp's losses by stepping away from the pack

BonnieRobin Mariela Watau
Riley et al. draw a bright line on Target's role as the poster child for The New Scarlet Letter in their Business Week article: Target implemented intrusion detection reporting then ignored those reports which could've eliminated the entire incident!

For this overview, we want to zero-in on Levi Gundert's Change Detection segment (time-coded link).

Youtube video on Change Detection

A brief survey of the basics:

Larry Dignan thankfully names the elephant in the room multiple times in this no-nonsense write-up from ZDNet. Ponemon research finds that the average cost of a data breach within an organization is $5.4 million.


A widely held misconception is that insurance covered $44MM of Target's estimated $61MM losses from the data breach.


Reputation risk, well-researched by Jonathan Karpoff cannot be covered by insurance (as it's driven by emotion). He writes:
As I use them here, “trust” and “reputation” are not fuzzy, feel-good terms. By reputation I mean the present value of the income that accrues from repeat business on profitable terms. And repeat business comes from trust. Firms that act opportunistically undermine that trust, and face tougher terms of trade with counterparties, who learn to be wary of such opportunism.
No amount of insurance payouts go back in time and
  • » 'unsteal' the information,
  • » 'unwreck' the car, train, plane or cruiseliner, or
  • » 'unburn' the forest.
In most every case except for events of force majeure, the only acceptable answer is resolving the risk before it happens. Not just for transportation or data breaches.

Our national electrical grid was attacked 16 April 2013 by domestic terrorists, yet the incident received scant coverage. (See also enlarged image.) Many of the core residual risks arise with Pelosi and her merry band of 'Botox® Dowagers' (the effeminate Harry Reid included) steadfastly refusing to recognize what Harold Rood taught in his international relations courses at Claremont McKenna College: America will always have enemies and it is morally unforgiveable not to prepare.


Stoddard & Wyckoff report that small-cap firms can expect to shell out $10MM+ to replace a CEO, while large cap firms stick their shareholders with five times that sunk cost. They estimate that ineffective leadership costs us (that is, American Industry as a whole), $14B annually. Even for those who do sack their leaders following an incident, replacing the CEO rarely helps the business, writes Margarethe Wiersema.

In contrast to Target's debacle, CVS turned a reputation risk into an opportunity, widely covered in this twitter search.


4: Measure Twice, Cut Once


What's the True Cost of Our Relentless Quest for More?

Lisa Street
Recently, I was speaking with a technician, who’d come to my home to install my new internet service. She orchestrated
  • » installing the new modem
  • » putting me on a separate frequency from my neighbors,
  • » and re-setting my wireless printer
with the efficiency of an old pro. I laughingly joked that I didn’t adhere to any of the generational axioms such as Gen Y, Gen X, or Millennials. I am Generation M. The Microwave Generation. I want everything now.

With all the technology afforded us, we truly can have everything…now. But, at what cost? Being always eager for the next big advancement in technology or in life, we miss the experiences we’re in now. I have a deep-seated fear of losing my phone, my computer not working, or not having my music player’s battery fully charged, ready for me to take it on a run.

Sunday was Mother’s Day and as my mother and I reminisced, I recalled my Grandmother always telling me to “Measure twice and cut once.” She was a seamstress, a cook, a baker, the quintessential woman of the 40s with one big difference. She was the head of her American Red Cross office and a single mom. She couldn’t afford to make a mistake and she ran her household as tight as any ship’s captain.


I can still see her laying out patterns for a dress or skirt and the care she took in tracing onto the cloth. Once the scissors began to cut there was no going back. Her brother, too, understood this philosophy. He’d learned and applied it to his craft of custom-fit shoes and boots. How much more patience and attention to detail did he need? His customers depended on him to make their shoes right as it was very likely their only pair for a summer or winter season.

Though her measure twice, cut once philosophy stemmed from her sewing, it took me awhile to realize how it applied to the rest of life. Not only could one avoid or lessen mistakes, it also taught patience, attention to detail, and getting things right the first time.

We flock to antique stores, estate sales, or just hang on to what we’ve got because we know those items were created to last. In a technologically advanced world, one of the most basic things we seek is stability. With the fear and the new philosophy that nothing lasts forever, we don’t expect as much and don’t work to raise those expectations.

Through technology we can "do more things in less time," yet how often do we pause to reflect? Its pace seems to have made us 'unmoored' or cast adrift in many areas of our lives. Always expecting the next generation product, we don’t expect things to last. What would happened if we truly returned to a simpler world, by following a very basic principle of “measure twice, cut once”?

Let Us Show You How to Equip Your HR to Blend High Tech & High Touch to Drive Sustainability & Profit
Reach out for Cross-Disciplinary Insights!
Preheader Facebook icon Preheader Linked-in icon Preheader Twitter icon Preheader Google+ icon Preheader Pinterest icon
Twitter follow
Twitter follow
STETA blog
STETA blog
Copyright © 2014 Systems Thinking Institute LLC, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp