Do all writers and opinionators suffer from this?

I’m talking about what I probably shouldn’t call Pundits’ Tiresomeness Syndrome (PTS). I shouldn’t call it that because the compulsion to coin the phrase is a symptom of the underlying malady.

PTS is a complement to the need discussed in this space a few weeks back, where the need to matter leads to an inability to make polite conversation. I’m pretty sure I suffer from this because I hear myself, from time to time, punctuating a conversation with the deadly phrase, “I’ve written about this from time to time and …”

The implication, try as I can to avoid it, is that my views on the subject are more listen-worthy than those of anyone else I happen to be conversing with at the time.

It’s more or less on a par with the late, lamented Dr. Science, who explained why his explanations were worth paying attention to: “I have a masters degree … in SCIENCE!”

# # #

I knew a guy, once upon a time, who suffered from a severe case of PTS. No matter what the subject, and no matter how technically nuanced the subject, his go-to conversational gambit was “I have a theory about that. To the extent I was conversant with the subjects he would theorize about, I was pretty sure “his” theories were at least 50 years old and long-since superseded.

Did I say he suffered from PTS? To be precise, everyone around him suffered from it.

Then there was the CIO I knew who informed his leadership team that from that point forward his management team members should all think of him as just another member of the team. That was just before he said, “For example, here’s a situation we have to deal with, and here’s what I think we should do about it.” Hearing his solution took the rest of the management team meeting. It was PTS at its finest.

Among PTS’s symptoms, perhaps the worst is that it’s far from incurable. Quite the opposite, most of us sufferers know the cure.

It’s to ask a question. A question, and to be clear I’m talking about open-ended questions, not debate-style accusatorial ones, demonstrates interest in other people’s knowledge and perspectives.

This well-known cure … perhaps “treatment” would be a better term … has the fringe benefit of exposing the PTS sufferer to new and potentially interesting ideas.

It also takes advantage of a strange, paradoxical quirk of human perception: If I ask someone a question about themself, their post-question perception of me is that I’m a more interesting person than I was before I asked the question.

What’s most difficult in all this lies in another, socially dismal symptom: We find that understanding what someone else is trying to explain to us takes, as the years to by, an increasing expenditure of energy.

Explaining my views, that is, takes less effort than understanding yours.

Bob’s last word: In case the managerial point isn’t clear, it’s that as a leader and manager, you’re far better off asking your staff what they think about a subject … any subject … than you are telling them what you think about it.

You can certainly share your views, but you’ll be far more persuasive if you wait to share them until you’ve done enough listening first.

Bob’s sales pitch: If you’ve been paying attention you’ll understand there’s little likelihood that I’ll speak my last word on any subject any time soon.

And just to make sure we’re still friends, I really do value the anecdotes, knowledge, and opinions KJR’s subscribers share with me, whether through email or the Comments.

PTS or no PTS, I want to hear from you. Now showing in’s CIO Survival Guide:5 Ways CIOs will disappoint their CEOs in 2003.”

Way back when, personal computers were just gadgets enjoyed by hobbyists.

Then, in 1979, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston invented VisiCalc, the world’s first electronic spreadsheet.

VisiCalc was, for the personal computer, what the inflation that followed the Big Bang was for the universe.

Then the Internet happened, and with it the four key innovations that made it interesting enough to stimulate all the other innovations that made it more interesting: Wikipedia, search engines, Google Maps, and Amazon.

Wikipedia is on the list because it changed where we all go to satisfy our curiosity about just about anything with confidence we aren’t just reading FAKE NEWS!

Search engines? Because they’re what we use when we want to find something someone wants us to find.

Google Maps wasn’t the first mapping application, but it’s completely replaced paper maps and the Yellow Pages for locating anything and navigating to it.

And Amazon is what we use when we want to buy something, never mind if the vendor is nearby or not. It’s also supplanted local libraries, and in part is supplanting the Library of Congress. It’s also what we use when we want to find a book about something.

Not to trivialize everything else on the internet … many readers would, for example, add blogs and social media … but it’s these innovations that resulted in the internet supplanting much of physical reality.

Then there’s one more innovation that, in its own way, has been just as influential: cybercrime. It’s key impact: Preventing innovation. This week’s topic: How to encourage innovation without endangering the enterprise.

Start here: “Innovation” isn’t a thing. Or more precisely, it isn’t just one thing. Conversations about innovation are easily derailed by confusing and conflating innovation’s various contexts.

Product innovation

Conversations about innovation are, for most people most of the time, about products and services. Product-innovative companies design, engineer, market, and sell products and services that have unexpected and exciting features.

Not that there’s anything wrong with adding unexpected and exciting features to your business’s products and services. Far from it: When it comes to marketplace success, product innovation is right up there with selling at the lowest price and making the whole buying experience more convenient.

Only in this day and age, many potentially valuable features might never see the light of day due to cybersecurity considerations.

Or, even worse, they might see the light of day while ignoring their cybersecurity implications.

Process innovation

When the subject is innovation and it isn’t about products and services, it’s probably about internal processes. And when it comes to competitive advantage, that’s as it should be: Better internal processes can result in lower product prices and improvements in convenience.

Big process improvements tend to come from formal projects that build cybersecurity into their deliverables. But as a general rule, there’s as much opportunity from large numbers of small improvements as from small numbers of big improvements.

If it weren’t for cybersecurity worries, business users could, between Excel and Robotic Process Automation tools, sand off a lot of small obstacles to process efficiency with minimal IT involvement.

But taking cybersecurity concerns into account, a lot of these opportunities will never see the light of day.

Products and processes are the most obvious types of innovation that can be stifled by cybersecurity considerations. But they aren’t the only ones.

But wait! There’s more!

Two types of innovation get less attention than they deserve: capability innovation and customer innovation.

Capability innovation is making the business competent at skills it could use to improve its products, services, and internal processes if only it knew how to do something.

Customer innovation is all about finding ways to attract customer segments the company currently ignores.

Both of these innovation categories are just as prone to being stifled by cybersecurity concerns as products and processes.

Bob’s last word: I’d love to tell you I have a brilliant solution that results in a highly innovative business that’s also perfectly hardened.

I don’t. My best suggestion (no, not “best practice”!) is an all-out, no-hold’s-barred, high-visibility effort to build cybersecurity awareness into the business culture. Couple that with turning the Cybersecurity organization into a highly accessible internal consulting group, ready, willing, and able to help anyone developing an innovation to harden their innovation.

If you have other alternatives to suggest, please post them in the comments. That’s what they’re for.

Bob’s sales pitch: It isn’t really a sales pitch, but it’s time for the annual KJR census. It’s your opportunity to let me know enough subscribers have enough interest in what I write every week to warrant the time and effort needed to write it.

It’s also your opportunity to let me know which of the topics I tend to write about … and others that I don’t … are topics you want to read about.

If you’re willing, please use the Comments so we can get a discussion going on the topics front. If you don’t want your thoughts to appear in a public forum, use the Contact form instead. Thanks!