Posts Tagged TED

Cool Stuff: TED-Margaret Heffernan: Dare To Disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.
The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray.“A fantastic model of collaboration: thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers.” (Margaret Heffernan)”

This TED was fantastic. In the past I have talked about questioning authority, avoiding group think or confirmation bias, and seeking feedback as crucial elements of a company or organization’s health. Especially if you want a thinking or learning organization.

The other point in this TED that was cool was that the answers to your company’s problems are often times right there in the data and feedback from employees/members, but because folks are afraid to bring them up or leaders shun that data because they hate being questioned or challenged (ego), that the data is ignored or is thrown away. A company must find ways of finding this data, and use it effectively for their Kaizen programs.

They must also listen to those who have the courage to disagree or say something, and they must reward these folks–because they cared enough about your company or contract to bring that forward. It is feedback gold, and those leaders who care more about ego, and less about encouraging that process and acting on it, are toxic to a company and that contract. Check it out. –Matt


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Building Snowmobiles: Institutions Vs. Collaboration… And The Strength Of Offense Industry

In this deal I wanted to highlight the Power Law concept and the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) mentioned by Clay Shirky at around 8:30 in the TED video below. To me, this is an important element of Offense Industry, and it also shows how the collaborative nature of Offense Industry is able to compete against enemies that use institutions for warfighting.

Specifically, I wanted to highlight the actions of privateers during the war of 1812 versus the British Royal Navy. One group is a collaborative effort, and the other was an institution. At the end of the day, the collaborative effort of the privateers being focused on merchants and other valuable British prizes, ended up contributing greatly to the overall success of the war effort. And yet, there was no admiral coordinating the privateer attacks, no institution that dictated how each privateer operated other than a license (letter of marque) giving them authority, and there was room in this offense industry for the top performers all the way down to the one hit wonders.

Privateers during that time period also seem to exhibit a power law, 20-80 type effort. There were the privateers that were the top performers (20 percent that captured most of the prizes), and then there were the long tail of privateers who would get a prize here and there (one hit wonders or 80 percent). This entire grouping of privateers ended up accomplishing quite a lot, and at no cost the US government. Actually, the government made money off of these privateers and usually collected about 10 percent from each prize taken, which then went back into the war chest to further fund ‘institutions’ like the navy.

This system also rewards the top 20 percent, but still gives hope to those that are part of the effort. But governments that utilize the privateering system should know that those 20 percent are crucial to your effort, and every effort should be given to identifying and working with this 20 percent so they continue to be successful. A government should also be aware of the 80 percent and understand their place in the effort as well.

It should also be noted that the US Navy only had 23 ships during the war and the total registered amount of privateers was 517. Likewise, privateers were able to capture 1300 prizes and the navy was able to capture 254. Yet privateers funded their own vessels and self organized, whereas the navy was an institution requiring investment by the US. This is expensive and time consuming and obviously the US was not able to raise an adequate Navy in time for this war.

So instead, the US depended upon the ‘collaborative’ strength and cost effectiveness of a privateering system to accomplish the task of attacking British commerce and logistics.  To me, this collaborative nature of offense industry is it’s strength. I also wanted to identify this strength and archive it for future discussions about Offense Industry. You can also see that the more inclusive and massive the privateering system is, the more effective that privateering system will be at gaining prizes. It’s a numbers game, and institutions will have a hard time competing with that.

You could also apply this concept to what is happening in the arab spring. You have people who are part of a collaborative effort to overthrow their government and it’s ‘institutions’. These collaborative efforts follow the power law curve as well, and you will have the top performers and the one hit wonders throughout the effort, and the overall results of that effort equate to great accomplishments and the overthrow of dictators. Interesting stuff and the video below is definitely worth your time to watch. –Matt


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Building Snowmobiles: The Quadrotor EFP

This is a pretty awesome combination of technologies if you ask me. A quadrotor of the size necessary to carry an EFP, programmed with all the necessary system controls to make it precise and maneuverable, and armed with an EFP that can be aimed at an engine block or the driver of a vehicle.

Plus, an EFP can penetrate armor (40 mm from 25 ft for the SLAM), and with the quadrotor EFP, you could target from multiple angles depending on the amount of munitions you have, the terrain, the weather, the targets and the mission. This is another Drone Archer weapon to look at, and it’s possible uses are many.

So here are some pieces to combine, just to fire up the imagination. These are not the final solutions or pieces to this ‘snowmobile’, but at least you can get the idea of what we are going for here. Please list better devices and pieces if you are interested.

First is the Control Systems or brains of the thing. If you have been watching those incredible quadrotor videos I have posted lately, then this TED describes the ‘how’ for these things. Very impressive.



Next would be the quadrotor itself. The Draganflyer x8 can carry 2.2 pounds and has a gyro stabilized, servo controlled mount for a camera. (or EFP in this case)



And finally, the munitions. I like the SLAM munitions. (which is 2.2 pounds–oh how convenient? lol)



Put them all together and you have the Quadrotor EFP.

As to the ideas of how to use such a device, I will leave that up to the minds and imaginations of the reader. From ambushes on armored columns and motorcades, to anti-material missions, to taking out individuals-there are many uses for such a thing. And because the Quadrotor EFP can be precise, pre-programmed, and remain hidden behind a wall or blocks away on top of some building, it would be very difficult to defend against. Especially if this system was used in a swarm type attack, where the device is used to attack from multiple angles and at erratic moments of the attack. Imagine bees or wasps and how they attack a target.

Or you could use the Quadrotor EFP for very surgical attacks. You could also just park the Quadrotor EFP behind a trash can, and use it like a traditional EFP for an ambush. Maybe it can drop off it’s lethal payload and set the munition. Maybe you want to use for ISR only, and call off your ambush because of whatever reason. Imagine the thing being used at night? Or a swarm at night? Lots of frightening and lethal uses for this weapon….

Now of course with every weapon, there is someone out there thinking of ways to defeat it.  Perhaps a jammer or some device could be used to defeat the Quadrotor EFP. Even counter Quadrotors or some kind of counter-battery system could zap them out of the sky.  Who knows, but these things are a reality and the pieces are all there, so it behooves us to start thinking about this new reality. So with that said, let me know what you think. Do you have a better Quadrotor EFP idea, or do you have ideas on how to defeat this weapon? Maybe you have a radical idea on how to use them for maximum effect? –Matt

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Cool Stuff: TED–Paul Romer: The World’s First Charter City?

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DIY: Opensource Military Hardware?

Ok, I have to say it. I watched this video at TED and instantly thought–Opensource Military Hardware wiki (OMH). The same concepts these guys applied to farm equipment and the basic tools of a society, can easily be applied to weapons and military equipment manufacture. And in fact, if you watch what is going on in Libya or even Mexico, it is already happening on the world stage.

Honestly speaking, mankind has been doing this since the time of spears. What makes this unique though, is the concept of open source and collaboration. That some engineer in Sweden combined his knowledge with some student in Ethiopia, to help some Peruvian maker shop put together a cost effective armored vehicle that works. And the whole world can access the same open source material via a wiki.

Of course the down side of this type of wiki would be ‘everyone’ could access it. That makes this a dangerous idea. But on the other hand, OMH is going to happen regardless. The internet already provides plenty of resources for folks to check out and use.

The other idea is that OMH could be a closed wiki, only available between partner nations. That way, one nation could give preferred poorer nations a means to protect themselves from neighbors. The thought here is ‘give a man a fish, you feed them for a day’….’but teach them how to fish, and you feed them for life’. To basically give countries a means to create their own defense industries, as opposed to giving them expensive weapons and hardware and expecting them to be able to maintain this costly equipment.

This is also a PMC 2.0 topic. Companies have built homemade armored vehicles in places like Iraq, and often these designs were based on whatever ideas those contractors in the field had come up with. Imagine if a company had access to an OMH, and could cheaply build the equipment they needed in whatever country they were operating in? You could either make an OHH ‘tank’, or go through the risk of open markets and hostile neighbors to purchase such hardware?

Or if your logistics sucks, and you need an armored vehicle yesterday, OMH could come in extremely handy. Lot’s of angles to go with this concept, and definitely check out the video below. –Matt

Edit: 11/29/2011- Check out this wiki. It is called Open and it is pretty much doing what I was talking about in this post. Making public projects based on open source information and using the feedback of a the crowd. Check it out here.


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Leadership: TED–General Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn… Then Lead

This is a great presentation and very powerful. Also, the TED crowd gave the good General a standing ovation at the end!

The other thing that I noticed was the ideas he talked about, totally mesh well with Jundism. Learn from your people or ‘learning organizations’, and listen to your people or ‘get feedback’. Even the ‘shared reality’ concept was an issue that the General discussed as a difficulty with command in the modern age. Very cool and check it out. –Matt

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