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Line, Dot, Cone

My friend and mentor from afar (if you’ve looked around your local environment, there’s an incredible dearth of mentors from a-near), William L. Livingston, is about to hatch his fourth book: “Design For Prevention“. I’m happy to say that I’ve served as a reviewer and a source of feedback for D4P. I’m sad to say that it won’t become a New York Times bestseller because it’s one of those blasphemous books that goes against the grain and will be rejected/ignored by those it could help the most – institutional leaders.

One of the graphics in DfP that I’ve fixated on is the “Line Dot Cone” drawing. As shown below, the path to “now” is not smooth and deterministic. It’s non-linear and quite haphazard. Likewise, the future holds an infinite cone of possibilities. The only way to narrow the cone of future uncertainty is to perform continuous reconnaissance via sensing/probing/simulating and then intelligently acting upon the knowledge gained from the effort, where intelligence = appropriate selection (W. Ross Ashby) and not academic knowlege.

CCH corpocracies don’t acknowledge the existence of the Line-Dot-Cone reality. It would undermine the carefully crafted illusion that the dudes in the penthouse have projected about their ability to make the future happen. In their fat heads, as the overlay below shows, progress always occurs linearly in accordance with their infallible control actions. Thus, no reconnaissance is needed and all will be well for as long as they rule the roost.

  1. fishead
    March 5, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Interesting. But the bottom chart is wrong.

    The dudes in the penthouse don’t plot a linear path forward. They take the meandering path that’s behind them and pull it straight, by reporting on how their actions led the corpocracy to the point of success today. The cone of the future may be ahead, but they’re looking backwards through their monocular telescope to prove where they’ve been and boast about their pathfinding skills got them here.

    • March 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      How right you are. Brilliant Rick, brilliant – and stop stealing my thunder 🙂

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