jedcstuff

2011-11-28

PFIITTA people factor in impedance to technological adoption

Sometimes the greatest blocks to achieving a technology-enabled goal, is not so much the technical details, but instead, the "people details." I have somewhat frivolously given this a name here: "people factor in impedance to technological adoption" or PFIITTA as its acronym.

Most of my efforts have been for solving the technical details, particularly related to space transportation within the Earth-Moon system, sometimes alluding to that also automatically helping access and utilize points further out in the solar system.

Occasionally, I have commented on the people-problems that I was encountering, but quickly dismissing them as obviously erratic and irresponsible and surely would go away in time, like the various bullies that occasionally harmed me as I grew up.

However, even though I at times completed an integrated technical design that ought to achieve a goal long stated by others, instead of thanks, I got snubbing, derision and outright hostility at times. But mostly there was the lack of helpfulness or appreciation on their part.

This greatly impeded the achievement of their stated goals, such as establishing a spacefaring society, with space access for every human being, in the near future.

So, this writing is an effort to identify the "people factors" that were involved, to bring it out into the open, so that those with goal achievement intent, can find ways to resolve those problems that otherwise apparently will impede the achievement of large scale mutual goals.

I will also strive to provide some suggestions as to solution of the problem, much as I have usually done re technical problems.

I experienced the "people problem" re adopting technical solutions to widespread needs, even in my career as a hands-on person in electronics development work. Co-workers advised me to not bother writing up my innovative ideas even when they were explicitly invited by an employer, because they would be ignored, and worse, if the boss did not round-file your idea, he would change the name of the originator to be his own name instead of yours; I was advised that management was that way. I went ahead and with great difficulty and on my own time I wrote up some of my innovative ideas for products that seemed in line with the company's field of interest, and eventually I found that the warnings by my co-worker were essentially correct.

The corollary to this kind of problem, is the saying that if one wants one's idea to be passed up the chain of command, up the org chart up to where people could take action on the idea, that one would have to convince one's boss that it was his idea, not yours. Only then would the idea have a chance of coming into physically-expressed reality.

Analyzing the possible causes of this phenomenon, might provide some insight about one's future "people problems" before they happen, and maybe find ways to solve them.

Such as the corollary's solution to the problem of the boss either trashing your idea right there or else erasing your name and putting his name on it, was to instead propose the idea to one's boss in a way to convince him that it was his idea, and thus he would strive to move it up the management chain to possible actualization.

This was not true for all bosses in my long career; but too often it was an invisible roadblock to consideration and adoption of one's ideas.

So, what causes this phenomenon? I will hypothesize some possible factors:

1. Managers tend to have the overarching goal of "climbing up the ladder" to higher level management levels, with correspondingly higher pay and rewards. To do that, he needs to show that he is better than others, so that when evaluations happen, or slots open up in the next higher level of the management chain, that oneself will have shown to be better than peers, and most definitely better than subordinates. There may even be a fear of managers at every level, of a subordinate looking better and therefore taking one's job. "Creativity" is a factor in evaluation sheets. So someone suggesting an idea to help the company in some way, scores higher in the "creativity" category. If a subordinate comes up with an idea, if it got passed up the management chain, that subordinate might get a higher "creativity " score than oneself, an intolerable thing to happen. Solution is to make the idea disappear. Or better yet, if it looks like an especially good idea, to delete the subordinate's name from the idea, putting one's own name on it, and pass it up to one's superior. (Who might do the same thing, by the way.)

2. Ideas, unless required as part of one's performance of one's duties, are a wild-card in the game of management. Perceived as an unexpected factor, appearing out of nowhere, seemingly. Management needs to constantly work to get all the ducks in a row, so they can get knocked down predictably, so as to get the management job done well. An idea for doing something different, could cause a big wrinkle in all that work that one has done, making life less predictable, more work to manage. Who wants that, wants more trouble to deal with? The common phrase for this is "don't rock the boat." A new idea thus is seen as something that could "rock the boat" causing havoc. To this mentality, all useful ideas only come from the very top management, anyway, and they appear in the form of instructions for doing one's management job. Anything else is not worth thinking about, and could even upset things.

3. Competing businesses often utilize specific technological territorial claims; thus there can be a phenomenon of a potential new technology design appearing on the scene, as competing with one's own bread-and-butter technology-based business success. It risks getting into the "whose is better" ring, forced to duke it out in the customer purchase arena if not done previously in other more controllable business games. So it is better to keep one's eye out for potential rival technologies which might interfere with the one on which you have staked your fame and fortune upon. And when spotted, set up ways to prevent its success. This might be called "the trolley salesman in the automobile showroom" effect, TSITAS.

One's advertising system can be used for this. Make the same claim as your potential rival makes, such as "establishing a highway to space" or "space travel for all people". Then put on the usual dog-and-pony show, carnival show, dazzling the public with what the established business have achieved, and people will forget the original attractive claims, or else just assume it will come up eventually; after all, look how competent these folks are. This can be done by establishing enthusiast groups based on these mottos like "highways to space" even though they only are only using rocket launch vehicles, and they are hiding potential access to space by structural means. Their bread and butter comes from rockets now and in the near future; one's fame and fortune depends on their popularity. That is the deciding factor, rather than the actual establishment of highways to space or space access for everybody. Related is creating a periodic big convention claiming those goals, but in all the dazzling hoopla, if anyone happens to wander in with the real technology for making a highway to space enabling all people to reach space, rapicly enabling a spacefaring society, the person is not treated well and definitely is not allowed to speak to the convention or otherwise communicate the innovative idea. The innovator is simply ignored out of existence, while he naively is thinking the organization really is for the purpose of establishing "highways to space" and "apace travel for everybody." If there is a lot of wealth available from established businesses based on doing things the old established, but can't do the full job, way, this is a working technique to block the potential competition until it starves to death. And when that has happened, one can then have already prepared "evidence" that one's own business has rights to the concept and exclusive control of it and therefore decides when it will be utilized: after one's current business has dried up. The customer then has no option but to buy into the business-as-usual produced wares. And all the investors, and managers, can rest easier, life is good.

The risk of some technological innovative idea being produced by the grunts down on the floor who are hands-on familiar with the real world, coming up with a better way of doing things, is usually dealt with by use of the "Employment Agreement" form needing signing as a pre-condition for getting a job. This form ostensibly is a declaration that the employee won't steal the company's technological ideas and go start his own company with them. (In my long career, I recall only one co-worker who actually sought to steal others' ideas, but that was just part of the person's mastery of deceit and he became the confidant of management through that trickery.) In practice, since the "Employment Agreement" declares that all of the employee's ideas on any subject, related to the performance of the job or not, are automatically property of the employer; and that the employer is under no obligation to acknowledge them or develop anything from those ideas, the ideas of the employees are essentially dead in the water from the start. Thus the practice of "Yankee ingenuity" is ruined. This saves the corporate much trouble dealing with new ideas that might make waves in their carefully laid plans for getting top management's goals done. Since the employee who came up with the idea has no way to put the idea into practice, why bother being innovative. This "Employee Agreement" ruse has been standard practice for many decades here in the US, even in states which have made laws against it; the employee would have to sue the employer per that law, and what chance can the employee, usually underpaid and no extra cash on hand, to afford a lawyer to combat the high paid lawyers of the company, and what chance does that employee have of retaining his job, either. Nope, it is a well-laid business security plan shared by most technological-based corporations, and it works.

It does, however, heavily undercut the potentials of the country to create innovative new products. As America is currently finding out, in the form of financial big problems.

Continuing this polite hindsight exploration of PFIITTA, the next level of PFIITTA occurs when the company has a Reduction-In-Force, laying off employees. (Quite possibly as a result of suppressing innovation in their ranks, thus falling behind in technological opportunities to expand their business base.) Or employees retire. After some time period up to a couple of years in the case of management folks, the former employee is no longer bound by the signing of the employment-agreement. Only a few folks tend to be innovative; they have been identified during their time of employment, so the next level of blockage of possibly schedule-upsetting or rival technologies from happening, is after awhile, to hire private investigators to covertly gain access to the residences of the targeted former employees, and remove all legal-level proof that they are coming up with innovative ideas; the PIs don't know which ideas might be claimed by their hiring folks, so they just grab everything. This usually takes the form of just stealing all copies, hard and soft, of the first page of all correspondence that has been done with others regarding the person's innovative new ideas. Thus the person cannot provide proof of originality and therefore cannot get patent protection, and without a patent, no one will invest in the idea's creation. Problem solved: no potential competition can get a start.

And, to further make it hard for the innovative type person to gain help in making his ideas come into reality, is to get folks to carry on a grass-roots level of character assassination against the targeted people. This can spread like wildfire in a gossipy community; driving the person to leave and finding somewhere else to live, he will find that all his neighbors and even churchgoers of his religion, have already been "warned" about the foul dangerous character of the newly arrived person in their community; they may even excitingly have been enlisted in "catching" the bad person doing something bad. Needless to say, this makes it very hard for the innovator to get new friends and support for creating innovations. "Character references" are hard to come by, too, even to get another job, of any kind, to pay the bills. It works.

PFIITTA happens.

Deeper even than these business-protection games, is another factor, familiarly described in a song, that goes "anything you can do, I/we can do better." Is is part of the "whose better" factor. If someone's innovative technological idea looks like it will reduce the income from one's own lush abundant income, then potential helpers for that potential technology, can get pulled away to look at what seem to be similar but better ideas, well organized and more likely to be successful. Perhaps even saying they are the innovators of the ideas that were stolen by the PIs from former employee's residences and storage sites. For example, when the hoop-type highly efficient electrically powered transportation structure broke free and finally got formal publication, the old Earth Space Elevator concept was revived out of nowhere proclaiming that a tether material had been found and was in mass production in Japan, and Space elevators were ready to build, right no, put your money right here. It totally took attention away from the hoop-type transportation structure, which had its origins in figuring out how to get around the strength-to-density problem of the Earth Space Elevator structural access to space from the ground. Since no such material was in actual existence, after awhile it kind of faded away, but the hoop type transportation structure was still being silenced by all possible means, at the same time. That suggests that the real motives are not easily apparent; the intent may well be to block large scale near future use of earth orbital space, limited by the feeble means of using conventional launch vehicles - and that also protects the energy wealth baron's empires, by preventing near-future large scale energy supply by the long-proposed Solar Power Satellites in GEO, that are uneconomical if one only has rockets to put them in place and maintain them.

No one likes their income to get reduced.

There may even be pressure to resume the long inhibited nuclear powered launch vehicle technology, in a desperate effort to gain larger scale space access from the ground. The tether Space Elevator and the hoop Space Escalator are the only potential rivals to that technology; so pitting them against each other may block either one, until nukes are apparently acceptable. This is not to say that using the stockpile of nuclear weapon material up by using it as fuel for launch vehicles is a bad idea, mis-useable as it could become; it is merely pointing out possible factors in the blockage of access to orbital space in large scale commercial quantities in the near future by any other means.

One's motives need to be examined, for what one does. The proclaimed motives we make may not be the real ones; not necessarily deliberately, but simply as a response to the overall ongoing scenario. And "motives" is plural: there sometimes are several ongoing motives and some of them might clash. Can get complex. But determining one's own actual motives - plural - is a start at shaping up and getting effective. One does not necessarily tell others what these motives are, all the time, however. Some of them may well clash with motives of others: butting-horns from the start simply wastes time and effort and opportunity. So taking it a bit easy, if the scenario requires it, is wise. But losing sight of one's own motives in all the action, can be a step in the wrong direction, becoming part of the PFIITTA instead of the solution.

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2 Comments:

  • Mr. Cline,

    My comment is not directly relevant to this article, but I wasn't sure how to reach you. I was wondering, would it be possible to have multiple KESTS systems up at once, or would they smash into each other?

    Also, if a KESTS system was based in Ecuador and there was a severe earthquake, what would be the effect on the system? Would it be better to base it in a place that is not vulnerable to earthquakes?

    By Blogger KPier, At 11:55 AM  

  • Hello KPier.

    You can email me at jedcline@gmail.com, thanks for the interest.

    Good questions. Multiple non-co-located-anchored KESTS to GEO would need to have braces where they crossed, to define their relationships at the two sites of crossing. Two exceptions would be:

    1) the far more complicated special case of balanced KESTS to GEO, which are ground-anchored off-equator for direct access at higher latitudes and thus are latitude-symmetrical, such as at Maine USA, and Comororo Argentina: see "Equatorially-Mirrored KESTS" diagram (1997) at http://www.kestsgeo.com/1techconcepts/documents/ssi1997graphics/kesepts-ssi-directhandout.html and the slides from my ASCE Space 2002 technical paper at http://www.kestsgeo.com/1techconcepts/documents/space2002pres/vgkestsgeo20020317.html

    The special case of multiple KESTS to GEO that are anchored relatively nearby but displaced along the north-south dimension, such as for newer KESTS to GEO built to supplement an older wearing-out one, is explored in the early part of my sci fi novel "The Torus City Ice Shields Returning Home" http://www.kestsgeo.com/2sciencefiction/iceshields.html Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Torus-City-Shields-Returning-Home/dp/144212489X

    and 2) The case of multiple KESTS anchored at nearby equatorial sites, but going to different altitudes, such as one to LEO in addition to the one to GEO. One built first to LEO, would enable highly efficient access to LEO such as for delivering means to boost the ISS up to GEO instead of the currently planned destruction on a controlled re-entry. Unshielded in GEO, the ISS would only be a temporary manned construction base in GEO, then become a permanent museum for visitors on the rapid economical space access from the ground by tourists, made possible by KESTS to GEO.

    Similarly a Ground to LEO KESTS would provide means for efficient means for delivery of reaction engine powered vehicles to deal with space junk between LEO and GEO, necessary for preservation of a KESTS to GEO transportation structure.

    You may also enjoy my UTube on my subsequent ASCE 2004 technical paper presentation re KESTS to GEO at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6fZQ_EULZw

    Re earthquakes, the KESTS to GEO anchor terminal site I have envisioned in most of my writings, would be in a tunnel up in the Ecuadorean Andes through Cayembe Peak. The tunnel is large enough to accommodate enough relative Earth-KESTS accelerator movement during a major earthquake there.

    If you can tolerate the mental shift from technical paper concept descriptions, to a particular form of dynamic high-tech sci fi form of writing, there are thousands of more details in my 4-novel series on the subject, particularly "It's Down to Earth" http://www.kestsgeo.com/2sciencefiction/idte.html or paperback from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Its-Down-Earth-J-Cline/dp/1441467424/ which also explores such things as someone nuking the ground termanal site; explores "Circular KESTS" connecting pressure-supported towers around the Earth, and also explores a KESTS to GEO anchored in Indonesia.

    Your insightful comments and interest is much appreciated; I look forward to further communications on the subject.

    Jim Cline

    By Blogger Jim, At 12:14 PM  

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