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Plano Texas 75023
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Recent View from the Prairie Articles

July 2018

Sometimes the little things matter

The Large Hadron Collider is where the Higgs Boson was discovered. No, nobody actually saw it nor was there a solid signal on a measurement. Instead, it was only a blip of other particles that had very strong probability that they were created from the Higgs Boson. This little blip brought the Nobel Prize. In the business world, little blips can be important. We define our corporate culture by what small things we praise and which we fire over.

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Credit Spigot Turn Off?

From the first, our country was built on credit but periodically, the credit spigot got turned off. In the 1800's, they called it a "financial panic" and those happened over and over again. In the 1900's, we only had the 1907 panic and the one Great Depression. More recently, we had the "Great Recession". However, what would happen if the credit spigot got turned off again?

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June 2018

Karl Marx - 200 years later

Recently, several countries celebrated the 200 th birthday of Karl Marx. In his writing, he targeted America and Britain hoping to change their economies. He failed. While America has had armed rebellion and soft revolutions, we did not follow the path Marx wanted for us. What happened? It is important to look at the economic situation when Marx was writing, look at how America and Britain chose other paths, and see how Marx's vision ultimately failed.

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The real danger of Artificial Intelligence

The story goes in WWII, the Russians trained some dogs to run bombs under tanks. But the German tanks smelled different so the dogs ran back under Russian tanks with the bombs. Artificial intelligence has similar problems. AI systems trained to detect images are being fooled by small changes to the pictures undetectable to humans. The results are AI systems not recognizing stop signs, misidentifying individuals, and not seeing dangerous situations.

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May 2018

Surfing the Change Wave

Can you handle how fast the world is changing around you? With social media and other outlets, our customers and potential customers can control the image we have in the community. We can't control so much of the environment in which we operate. Some companies are accepting this and riding the waves of change around them. They find ways to get energy from changes they can't control.

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The Science of Not Knowing

Human beings have three ways of not knowing. We can know that we don't know something. We can not know something and not know that we don't know it. We can "know" something but be totally wrong about it. This last one is the most costly and hardest to deal with. There are a number of costs of knowing but being wrong in that knowing.

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April 2018

Making Decisions with Incomplete Knowledge

We are always needing to make decisions without knowing the full information about the situation or what the consequences of the decision will be. We need to have a system of making decisions and reviewing such decisions when the consequences we become aware of them. We do best to also ask the deep questions.

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Mindfulness

A current wave through management circles is to spend time in "Mindfulness". The practitioners claim studies showing that managers who set aside time for "Mindfulness" make better decisions. There is an obvious reason for that result. But any time in "Mindfulness" can be improved by focusing on the questions.

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February/March 2018

Examine Your Myths

Humans live on stories. We love to listen to stories, we learn more from stories than from facts, and we have our own story which gives us our own time and place. But sometimes, those stories are myths. When we try to run companies on myths, we run the risk that the myth no longer holds true for us. When we live by a myth, we are far more vulnerable to con men and being taken advantage of by people acting as if they are fulfilling the myth. Business myths abound in our culture. Learning to question our myths can be a potent business advantage.

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The Jungle Will Overtake a Garden

Anyone who has seen Angor Wat or the images of how Mayan temples were discovered can see the power of the jungle to take over a fancy city. Trees are growing everywhere and huge temples got covered with dirt and vegetation. Even a lowly garden has weeds attacking it every week. The same is true for any computer system.

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January 2018

Too Big Not to Fail

Back in the 1950's, the American economy was dominated by a few huge corporations. Companies like GM, AT&T, US Steel, IBM, and General Electric had dominant positions in the marketplace and were where people wanted to work. Since then, several have gone bankrupt and the others are much smaller part of the economy. What happened? They were all "too big NOT to fail". Human beings are not perfect. We have a predictable failure rate.

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Get Feedback

To have a learning organization, we need feedback. Learning happens fastest when there is quick, effective feedback. But how do we best get feedback? To get best feedback, we need both formal and informal methods.

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