SOPA blackout – the silence is not deafening


Stop SOPA.  Make Your Voice Heard

Stop SOPA by nabichan on

First off, I’d like to thank all of those bloggers and site owners out there for raising awareness of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) issue.  Personally, I’d like to thank Jamie Flinchbaugh for sending me a DM to make me aware of the issue, and to inform me that both he and Mark Graban would be joining major sites like Wikipedia and blocking out their sites today in protest.

I, too, do not agree with SOPA and I am glad that President Obama effectively killed it yesterday.  The Senate’s anti-piracy measure, PIPA, is still alive & well, however.  As you may have noticed, however, I have decided that I won’t be blacking out MFP for today.

 The reason?  Simple:  I don’t believe the correct response to the threat of censorship is to voluntarily censor one’s self.

What the internet has given us is the relentless ability to share ideas and information, in realtime, for both good and ill.  While no one would want to take away the “Good” what acts like SOPA intend to do are to take away the “Ill.”  At first glance, this seems reasonable and logical – we want to protect people from the objectionable and the illegal.  Unfortunately, what constitutes either Good or Ill are matters of time, place and circumstance and what tends to lead to societal, technological, and governmental change is when someone challenges the accepted distinctions between the two.

Yes, I believe property owners deserve to have their property protected and supported with the force of law.  This, of course, includes intellectual property.  What I disagree with when it comes to SOPA, however, is that the means for protecting this property should be to limit the ability of everyone to pursue whatever interests them.  To draw an analogy, it is like saying that in response to a rash of speeding cars on a particular street, no one in the town is allowed to own or drive a car, and the gas station needs to shutdown, too.  Unfortunately, in that situation, the powers that be don’t have the ability to patrol every street all the time or stop you from buying gas one town over, so you’ll need to monitor yourself.  If you don’t, you’ll get whacked with some penalties, too.  Nevermind that you might not be able to go to work or respond to an emergency if you need to.

Back to the blackout as a means of protest.  The response to the SOPA and PIPA bills that led to President Obama’s decision took place by means of……the internet!  The multitude of voices and the ability to dissemminate information on the issue, in many ways, on many platforms, and in huge volumes at very quick paces is what created the stir.  It is exactly this ability to allow information to flow that makes the internet so vital. 

Even those sites that are blacked out….aren’t really.  The “blacked out” sites contain inforation on SOPA and PIPA, demonstrating that the true strength of the internet lies in the sharing of information and ideas, even objectionable ones, and not in the power of silence.  Like this site, many of them are also hosted by GoDaddy and, of course, indexed by Google – who have raised the ire of some folks for supporting the SOPA bill or not blocking out their sites entirely today – proving  that the major internet providers will continue to be major providers, SOPA or not.

Why? Because as information flows around the internet people do 2 very human things:  They get creative, and they get bored.  If a site is down, folks will find a way around the problem.  They will go elsewhere or someone will be bold enough to create an illegal site in protest, possibly hosted overseas and beyond the reach of the very laws it seeks to overturn.  It might even gain enough popularity to cause legislation or whole industries to realign with what people desire – as expressed (you guessed it) in droves on the internet. 

It is that expression of discontent that matters – and it should be done as loudly as possible, with full voice by all those with something to say.  The awareness of SOPA and PIPA that brought about the President’s action did not come through site owners voluntarily taking their sites down – it came about through the collective voices of all those site owners and readers emailing, texting, tweeting, and calling Washington on web-enabled cell phones.

I’d much rather see people articulating their exact thoughts on thousands of sites as to why this issue, or any issue that they feel needs to be confronted, is important to them than see those same sites showing a boilerplate message or a simple, blank screen.  Through volumes of posts expressing their point of view on an issue, is how change occurs.

Actually, come to think of it, that’s exactly what’s happened on this issue already, isn’t it?

Oh, and by the way……..

It’s working.

Maps of War

I came across this really, really interesting site today:  Maps of War.

The Maps of War March of Democracy On the site are several animated maps depicting the spread of democracy, the casualties in the Invasion & Occupation of Iraq, the history of conquest in the Middle East, the spread of religion, and many other events from antiquity to today, including battles and campaigns of WWI and WWII.

What I am wondering is how these maps could be incorporated into improvement practices?  For one, wouldn’t it be great to have a history of your organization?  Knowing how to get to your future state might have a lot to do with knowing how you got to your current state.  Having such a map would be tremendously useful for understanding all the idiosyncratic, cultural norms within an organization.

Also, think of how useful this could be for process mapping, mind mapping, or value streams.  Seeing the spread and growth of an idea, or the way in which a process evolved over time, would be tremendously insightful.

Here’s an example of the animations available at Maps of War:


Project Management Haiku

Sponsor gives the task
With Impossible deadline
Insanity rules

Create Gantts to show
Path to achieving success
Thanks, M.S. Project

Kick-off not so good
Resources are all tied up
Late the day we start

Panic already
Project reviews are painful
But no help in sight

Schedule slipping right
Costs are increasing daily
Metrics board bright red

Spec is adjusted
To something realistic
Still feels like failure

Project completed
Delivered less than wanted
Still we celebrate

Sponsor is calling
Follow-on is imminent
Here we go again

Pardon the mess while we renovate.

The site is undergoing a bit of an overhaul for the next few days while I change hosts and do some redesign. 

To take the blog up to the next level, I decided to undertake a major upgrade.  All the content is here, but some aesthetic changes and additional features will be rolling out soon.  Thanks!



Operations, Change, Innovation, Strategy, Culture and Waste: How it All Fits Together

There are limitless writings on each of these topics.  Obviously, each one contributes to the degree of success, or failure, an organization experiences, but how do they all fit together?  Each one has an affect on the others, but how can this dynamic be represented?  My answer is that each of these elements can be represented as a set of concentric spheres, each acting to reinforce the others and providing a framework within which subordinate spheres function.

Operations:  This is the core of your organization.  It is the sum total of the work that your perform.  You’ll notice that this is a pretty small sphere.  If you’re not familiar with the concepts of Lean Operations, you might be surprised to learn that the value-added activities your organization performs are only 10% or less of all the work that you do.  If you are familiar with Lean, you’re probably thinking that the value-added work is far less than 10%!  Nonetheless, the work your organization does is constantly affected by change.  Change seeps into your organization and permeates it, whether you want it to or not.  Your operations not only respond to change, however, they also tend to cause it.  Your ability to manage change within your organization impacts your ability to perform work.

Change:  Change happens both internally and externally.  It can be positive or negative, anticipated or utterly unexpected.  Nonetheless, change requires the ability to adjust and adapt.  It requires the ability to develop solutions – which is the ability to innovate.  As innovations occur in the external environment, organizations must change in order to adapt.  These adaptations, in turn, have an impact upon the operations within your organization.

From Operations to Waste: Change, Innovation, Strategy, and Culture Lie In Between

Strategy: Your organization develops strategies for innovation, change and operations.  As these strategies are developed and implemented, your organization finds that it must develop innovations in order to create and execute strategy.  Doing so requires managing change, and your organization’s operations are, of course, impacted.  The quality of your operations, change management and innovations also affect the type, nature and quality of the strategies you develop.

Culture:  Culture permeates all aspects of the organization, saturating your ability to innovate, manage change, and conduct your operations.  Culture is the globe within which all of your organization’s activities occur.  Approaches such as Lean and Total Quality Management (TQM) attempt to change the organization’s culture by adjusting the way in which operations are conducted, through structured changes that promote innovation, as part of an overall strategy to become more efficient and competitive.  Culture is the buffer zone between the work of your organization and the even greater and all-encompassing sphere of Waste.  Waste has an even greater ability to penetrate your organization, and your first, and greatest, line of defense is your organization’s culture.

Waste: Waste is all around you.  It surrounds and engulfs every aspect of your organization, and only through a dedicated focus on building a culture that recognizes waste as it occurs, can strategies be developed for dealing with waste.  Through a series of innovations, changing the nature of your operations in order to eliminate as much waste as possible can take place.  Without a concerted effort, inefficient operations that do not manage change well will stagnate with strict adherence to the status quo.  This inability to recognize the need for change and develop innovations that result in more successful business strategies guarantees that the organizational culture will not develop, offering a weak barrier to the relentless forces of waste.

© 2010 David M. Kasprzak