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October 22, 2017

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Weekly Profile: Articles about Red Queen Problems, Trust, On-Demand Dog Walking Problems and More. Week of 10-22-17

The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles, podcasts or videos we read, watched and listened to this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “ The Red Queen Problem: Innovation In the Defense Department and Intelligence Community.” This War on the Rocks article is written by author and entrepreneur Steve Blank to highlight solutions to many of the problems the government faces when trying to innovate. Beginning with a comparison between the approach to innovation we could use during the Cold War with the threats we face today (and how that impacts innovation), he moves into six problems and solutions that can help move organizations past simply putting the word innovation into their mission statement and then continuing with business as usual.

If you are familiar with lean manufacturing concepts or how it relates to product development, you might notice that his check for “solution/mission fit” is the same as companies searching for “product/market fit” and while at first I thought the author was just trying to relate it to the website’s military audience, after thinking about it, it really does translate the lean concepts from a business setting and into a military/government focus. As one of the major goals for The Weekly Profile is to help our subscribers find common ground between the problem they face in their field and how people have faced similar challenges in other professions, this article was one that had to be included and shared this week. You can read it here.

Follow On Reading: If you enjoyed this article, we recommend that you take a look at the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which expands on the innovation cycle that Steve Blank discussed. While there are some aspects of the approach to product development that should be thought through by people working with the government or with first responders – specifically knowing where the consequences for undeveloped ideas lands and whether you will be putting someone’s life at risk – for those looking to bring innovation to the DoD or Intelligence Community, it could prove to be a great resource. You can learn more or pick the book up on Amazon by clicking here.

2. “These 13 Exercises Will Prepare You For Work’s Toughest Situations.” In what she calls “dynamic empathy,” the VP of Content for Nerdwallet (a finance focused website) explains how you can quickly gain an understanding of how a colleague feels so that you can figure out how to act on it in a swiftly changing environment. Using 13 different scenarios that she used to learn the skill, she has created lists of questions that you ask yourself (this is an internal exercise) that can be prepared and thought through ahead of time to ensure you are prepared to consider other people’s motivations in tough situations.

If you are getting ready to give a performance review, take a look at Scenario #1 in the list. When managing conflict and attempting to de-escalate a situation take a look at Scenario #8. If you are building and instituting new processes, consider Scenario #4. Having issues managing up and working with your boss? Consider Scenario #2. If you are an instructor or trainer, look through Scenario #5. Negotiating? Scenario #6. Regardless of your role, there is a high likelihood that one of the 13 scenarios in this article can help you and that is why we recommend you take a look at this article, which you can find here.

3. “Podcast: A Counterintelligence Expert’s Five Rules To Lead and Succeed.” Robin Dreeke, a former Marine Corps Officer and an FBI agent who had a career in doing counter-intelligence work with their behavioral analysis program, talks with Brett McKay about his new book The Code of Trust. We found his interview to be very interesting as he takes a look at some of the techniques that go into validating others and actually building trusting relationships. While mistrust of people, companies, governments and products seems to be pretty rampant today, Dreeke’s approach isn’t about doing anything that gives people a reason to walk all over you, simply trying to be nice to others or dishing out flattery. It is about thinking about situations from the other person’s perspective and being able to address their needs, their concerns and allow them to accomplish their goals, which in turn, also works out for you as well. You can listen to the podcast here.

4. “Crime as Jihad: Developments in the Crime-Terror Nexus In Europe.” This article from The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point looks at the connections between criminals becoming involved in jihadism using data from Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, England and France and the striking percentage of people who had criminal records before traveling to fight in Iraq or Syria. As the authors to the article point out, it isn’t just the fact that they are criminals that is important, but the reality that their criminality is relevant to their extremism, how they radicalize into violence and how they operate once radicalized.

For those of you who are students of terror and the threat that these individuals and organizations pose, this article takes a look at how the Islamic State has been encouraging “regular” crime. It highlights a few cases of criminals-turned-jihadists and looks at where future research needs to be focused as we consider the fact that of the 580 people sentenced in Europe in 2016 who had ties to terrorism, the average sentence was only five years, which connects the risk level of terrorist attacker with our calendar. You can read the article here.

5. “Wag, The ‘Uber for Dog-Walking,’ Is Drawing Uber-Like Scrutiny.” Here is a bit of a lighter article to end this week on. This Bloomberg Technology article takes a look at Wag, the on-demand dog walking company that is reported to be raising around $100 million dollars in it’s third round of financing. The problem however, is that “every time a pet dies or goes missing, Wag and Rover (a similar company) take a public relations hit,” which is starting to cause concerns for investors. Yes, you read that correctly. A problem that the company is facing is that there is an actual risk of a dog going missing or dying during their walk. Apparently, this has become a big enough problem where the company has stood up “a dedicated team to handle dog rescues.” It has gotten to the point where one former customer (who allegedly turned down $2,500 and a trip to Disney World in compensation for her dog going missing on a walk) received a threatening cease and desist letter from the company after she turned to social media to voice her concerns about the company. You can learn more about the story and read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan

If you’d like to get The Weekly Profile in email form, in your inbox, on Sunday mornings, please subscribe at this link.


 

October 18, 2017

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The Weekly Profile: Improving Social Skills, Reactions to Active Shooters, Chess Experts in Finance and More. 10.15.17

The Weekly Profile: with the goal of helping to find common ground and innovative solutions by learning from people and perspectives in the military, business, technology, security and more. 

Here are five articles we read this week and wanted to pass along.

1. “How To Prepare Your Family For An Active Shooter.”This article from The Secure Dad website embraces the same concept of an article we included from Jeff Chudwin about police ambushes a couple of weeks ago: while the goal is always to get left of bang, there could be times when we can’t observe the attacker ahead of time and have to be ready to take action once something begins.  Andy Murphy, the author of the article, has been very supportive of Left of Bang but acknowledges a similar reality to the police ambush article in this write up about how to prepare your family for active shooter events.  In these situations, being right of bang isn’t a result of complacency or being caught in Condition White, but because you never were able to see the assailant ahead of time because you weren’t in the right position. Even though it isn’t ideal, it doesn’t mean you should waste a split second trying to figure out how to react either.

In this particular article, Andy Murphy uses his experience as a sports videographer and his access to stadiums and arenas to help think about the run, hide, fight reactions a person should be ready to execute if they find themselves in a situation with an active killer.  In the run section, he highlights a simple, yet effective way to prepare and rehearse that escape route.  In the hide section, he hits on something often seen in active shooter scenarios where people trying to escape end up in a room without an exit (something that occurred in the Pulse Nightclub attack). And in the fight response section, he reminds us how hard actual fighting is, and how, if you are unprepared or untrained, it isn’t as easy as it looks in the movies.

As you read the article, don’t limit the application of this particular article to stadiums either. It isn’t just that you want to find the vendor areas so that you can escape – but that you want to think about alternative routes you may not normally think about (such as how employees are moving around this arena without being seen). Don’t let domain dependence slow the learning but keep the applications of the article broad in mind as you read through it.  This is one of the top articles this week for a reason and for subscribers looking to keep their families safe; it isn’t one to skim through. To find, read and think about the concepts in this article, you can read it here.

2. ”How To Help An Employee Who Rubs People The Wrong Way.”A large portion of the client work that we do at The CP Journal involves some element of making more informed decisions about people and their safety. But we also spend a good deal of time helping people use the common elements of human behavior in areas outside of a security environment as well – such as how they can be used in conversation.  In this Harvard Business Review article about how to tackle awkward conversations, the author shows how it can cause some interpersonal challenges for managers and leaders who recognize that they need to address the problem of employees who rub others the wrong way and provides a few ways to prepare for the encounter.

As the articles drives to the point that the best way to deal with these situations is through thorough preparation, the four pillars of behavior that we write about on our site and teach in our classes can help you think about how to prepare. From decisions about what behavior you are going to display during the conversation, what type of behavior you are looking for as feedback from the person and how you set the conditions for the conversation using group behavior, the environment and the collective mood, the universal and uncontrollable elements of behavior provide a great compliment to the strategies discussed in this article, which you can find here.

3. “How the CIA Staged Sham Academic Conferences To Thwart Iran’s Nuclear Program.”This ProPublica article is an excerpt of Daniel Golden’s book Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universitiesand takes a look at some of the ways and reasons why intelligence agencies use academic conferences to lure the top minds from a range of scientific disciplines into a position to be recruited. As it can be hard to gain access to Iranian or North Korean scientists in their own country, by sponsoring conferences where they will speak and present research, intelligence agencies create a reason for them to leave the safety of their own borders and create opportunities for conversations that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.

With an explanation about how shell companies are used to actually host the conference (so that the CIA’s name isn’t plastered all over the place), examples of how it has worked well (recruiting Iranian nuclear scientists to defect) and ways it has gone wrong (assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program), this article offers an interesting look into the world of intelligence collection and recruitment. You can read it here.

4. “Wall Street’s Best Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert.”In this Bloomberg Pursuits article, James Tarmy profiles Lev Alburt. Alburt spent the early part of his life as one of the most important Russians for his ability to beat other people at chess. After being disenfranchised by Russian politics, he defected, first to West Germany and then to the U.S. Since then, he has built a business teaching the game out of his New York City apartment to some of the wealthiest and most influential people in business and finance. You can read the article here.

5. “How To Get Started With Physical Security: A Guide For Startups & Small Companies.”With so much conversation about the challenges in security, so many articles about innovative new products and so many sales pitches about what you need to protect your company, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choices you have to sort through as you seek to protect your company from harm. This article from our friend Ami Toben is written for the small companies who have grown to the point where they need to begin thinking about how to stand up a security function.  One of the biggest reasons why we recommend this article is because it stresses the importance of, and the need to, first understated what you are looking to protect before you begin thinking about how you are going to protect it.  While it often seems like common sense, it is one of the biggest mistakes we (and Ami) see and leads to a great deal of wasted money, time and ineffective security. You can read the article here.

Until next week – get left of bang and stay there.​

Patrick and Jonathan

If you’d like to get The Weekly Profile in email form, in your inbox, on Sunday mornings, please subscribe at this link.