On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 11:42 PM, David Masover <ninja / slaphack.com> wrote:
> It's a good analogy -- I would hope the Joint Chiefs would:
>
> =A0- Be actual generals with actual experience as colonels, majors, capta=
ins,
> etc -- so they have some concept of what's actually going on at every lev=
el.
>
> =A0- Keep abreast of improvements in existing technology -- if your rifle=
s can
> suddenly shoot twice as far, that changes things considerably.
>
> =A0- Keep abreast of entirely new directions -- UAVs could, again, change
> strategies considerably.
>
> If I were to present them with a better weapon, better form of armor, etc=
, I'd
> hope they wouldn't just decide not to care. Maybe I'd have to talk to a
> subordinate first, but you'd hope bureaucracy wouldn't prevent new tech f=
rom
> getting on the battlefield at all.

Since the Chiefs would put out a request for bids, and do try outs,
technological improvement isn't all that important to the Staff
itself. As I said, it deals with the big picture.

Subordinate specialists (like purchasing, and Training & Doctrine
Command) take care of the details.

What the chiefs get to do, though, is point the military (or a
corporation, if our JCOS were C-Level executives) into a future
direction.

More or less: What will be future markets, and how to exploit them.
What'll be possible technologies that could be used? Stuff more like
that rather than what dynamic typing is.

>> >> c) to keep the business running even if the original
>> >> first five employees have long since quit.
>> >
>> > This really doesn't. How does _bureaucracy_ ensure that more than, say=
,
>> > the apprenticeship you described in the steel industry?
>>
>> Because it enforces a uniformity of process.
>
> Good or bad, I'm still not seeing the connection to c above.

To rephrase yet again: The process a bureaucracy imposes (I include
"Process Diagrams" into bureaucracy), enables people who aren't
intimately familiar with the minutiae of the corporation to make
decisions, and to route events the correct way.

Ideally.

>> An apprenticeship in a
>> trade teaches said *trade*, but not management skills, or sales, or a
>> host of other things that are necessary to run a company.
>
> Wait, why wouldn't an apprenticeship work in management, sales, or any of=
 the
> other fields necessary to have a company? It seems to me that this would =
be a
> _better_ way to teach someone to be an effective CEO than to add so much
> process as to automate the position away.

An apprenticeship in management teaches management, yes. But that
comes at the cost of not having a trade. Thanks to division of labor,
however, the focus of training is somewhere else. A sales trainee
can't be expected to learn about, say, welding, electronics,
programming, or steel cooking, just to be able to write a sales
report, agreed?

> But if the cost of incremental change is sufficiently high, you're not
> evolving, you're stagnating.

And corporation that can make these changes will knock you out of the
market, yes.

> And maybe I'm naive, but I keep seeing small changes that have a large im=
pact,
> especially at scale. They don't happen all the time, but they happen ofte=
n
> enough that if you plan to be around for the next 50 years, you're going =
to
> see a few of them.

Oh, these changes certainly are there. Question is if it is worth it
to upgrade your datawarehousing to the next Oracle version, just
because it is a little better at doing OLAP.

I'll elaborate below.

> Given the same lanes, however, it would be useful to be able to divert ei=
ther
> planes or passengers around a weather problem. If there's a thunderstorm =
in
> your hub, do you delay every flight through there until it's gone, or do =
you
> redirect people to a different hub?

Yes, you delay the flights, except in a few, special circumstances.

It's a question of risk. A thunderstorm over an airport is risky for
a) ground personnel who are exposed on flat tarmac, b) plane
electronics (a spike of 116V can fry the electronics enough that the
plane has to be towed into a hanger to be rebooted; the usual power
supply is 115V), c) a lightning strike on a plane in the last phase of
descent kills 70 to 500 people, same with take off, d) not every
airport is equipped with ILS, which enables planes to land even if the
pilots don't see anything, e) diversion isn't always an option due to
fuel reserves on a plane, and traffic jams (If you ever flew via
O'Hare or ATL, or FFM you know what I mean). And, since airports are
quite a ways from each other, shuttling passengers from one hub to
another is highly impractical.


What is being done are trade offs: Is the benefit of action A high
enough to offset risk R, and what is the opportunity cost compared to
action B, with risk Q?

> Weather always existed, but that kind of thing wasn't always practical. (=
I'm
> not sure if it is now.)

Fortunately, planes travel too high to have to care about clouds and
their weather effects (once they passed through the cloud levels,
anyway). :)

Though, I suggest taking this off-list by now. I'm sure we are boring
everybody to death for a long, long time now. :)

--=20
Phillip Gawlowski

Though the folk I have met,
(Ah, how soon!) they forget
When I've moved on to some other place,
There may be one or two,
When I've played and passed through,
Who'll remember my song or my face.