Top Five Learnings from 9/11 and how we ignore them

It’s probably long past time to do anything constructive with this, but Steve Kirsch’s listing of the top five learnings from 9/11—and how the administration’s actions have ignored them—is pretty persuasive. And his conclusions echo a lot of my thoughts:

  1. Disarmament of foreign powers is not sufficient because our own weapons can easily be used to attack us
  2. Increasing homeland security is not sufficient because there are way too many holes and we still can’t even plug one of them after years of trying
  3. Attacking governments who support terrorists is not sufficient because it is not unfriendly governments who are the threat today; it is now the people from friendly nations who are attacking us
  4. The root cause of the attack is that people don’t like us overseas because of our hegemonic foreign policies, not because they are jealous of us
  5. The biggest threat to our world may be in our own reactions, and not the incident itself

…We should be asking ourselves two key questions:

  • What could we have done that would have reduced the chance that this would have happened?
  • What should we do now to reduce the chance of this happening again?

The answer is obvious. We should put our efforts on addressing the root causes of this terrorism, not the symptom. We need to make it less likely that people will want to fund and/or participate in such activities.

  • We should have a Department of Peace and International Cooperation and Assistance, not a Department of Homeland Security.
  • We should be supporting international treaties, not backing out of them.
  • We should be a leader in seeking peaceful solutions to conflicts, not a leader in the pre-emptive strike.
  • We should be respectful of foreign leaders, not insulting them by calling them pygmies.
  • We should respect foreign governments, not label them “evil.”
  • We should be having talks with our adversaries, not refusing to talk (as we are with North Korea).

In short, we should be doing exactly the opposite of what we are doing now.

Incidentally, this is the same Steve Kirsch who is the founder and CEO of Propel. When I met him in January of 2001, he was talking about energy policy mismanagement in California. Sounds like he found himself a bigger target.

Playing telephone

I am currently burning off some consultancy karma. Or to look at it another way, I’m getting paid back for every time I misunderstood a client’s requirements and delivered something they didn’t ask for, couldn’t use, and wouldn’t pay for.

My job is to define business requirements (from the perspective of the marketing team where I sit) for various internally-facing tools. Today I had someone from the IT group on the phone explaining to me that, in the course of developing the estimate for building one of these tools, they had scoped the effort as including a data warehouse, OLAP capabilities, and a custom report builder. “!!!!” I replied. “All we really want is some easy reports with standard parameters. And the data set only has four dimensions; how the heck could we even get anything out of an OLAP cube?”

“Oh,” came the reply. “That’s good; that should drive the estimate down quite a bit.”

Sigh. I know I’ve done the same thing more than once to my old customers, but it doesn’t make me feel any happier. It still feels like a game of telephone.