Relationship reengineering

Just as global businesses often try to improve their odds of success by fundamentally reengineering process to meet their changing needs, so can transitioning executives improve their chances of realising positive change by redefining their relationships in light of shifting roles, says Michael D. Watkins in ‘Your Next Move’.

Calling such a process ‘relationship reengineering,’ the author suggests the adoption of a few basic principles for the same. These are: Accept that relationships have to change; focus early on rites of passage; reenlist your (good) former peers; establish your authority deftly; focus on what’s good for the business; and approach team building with caution.

Have a solid process for communicating about internal promotions, advises Watkins. “In one organisation I worked with, all formal promotion announcements were communicated via email in the late morning. This meant that people had time to absorb the implications and perhaps talk about the promotion over lunch,” he narrates. “It also gave the newly promoted leader time to reach out to key stakeholders on the same day, participate in a short meeting with available members of the new team, and begin to initiate one-on-one meetings.”

The author finds a scene in Shakespeare’s Henry IV (act V, scene 5) capturing the tensions leaders face when they are promoted in their organisations. “Henry is the Crown Prince of England, destined to inherit the throne, but he spends much of his youth partying with disreputable characters, in particular the drunken Falstaff and his cronies.”

What happens when his father dies, and Henry is to be crowned king? During the coronation scene, Henry very publicly rejects Falstaff – ‘I know thee not, old man…’ This exchange, as Watkins interprets, signifies the major shift Henry makes from dissolute youth to one of the great rulers of England: his role changed dramatically and, as a result, so did many of his long-standing relationships.

Being promoted to lead people who were formerly your peers is among the toughest transitions you can make, observes Watkins. Why so? Because of the complex web of organisational relationships you’ve created over the years and must now redefine, he reasons.

“You think you know everyone, and everyone thinks they know you. But those relationships were shaped, in part, by the roles you previously played. The protocols, perceptions, and interactions must all be different now.”

Useful read.


Vibrations in the vault

It’s 11:01 am, and the venue is Spitsbergen, Norway. The name of this island of the Svalbard archipelago translated from the Dutch meant ‘jagged mountain,’ writes James Rollins in ‘The Doomsday Key’. Soon, he would lead us into the Doomsday Vault…

The Noah’s Ark for seeds, the brainchild of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, “meant to protect its precious cargo – over three hundred thousand seed species – against wars, pestilence, nuclear attack, earthquakes, even drastic climate changes. Designed to last for twenty thousand years, this Doomsday Vault was buried five hundred feet under a mountain, in what was considered to be the most remotely populated place on earth.”

The tunnel ended at three massive seed vaults, each sealed by its own air lock, reads a description. “Down a short ramp, a long circular tunnel stretched, large enough to accommodate a subway train. Underfoot lay cement slabs; overhead ran rows of fluorescent lights and an open lattice of pipes and utility conduits. The walls – steel-reinforced concrete blown with fibreglass – were toughly textured, giving the place a cavelike appearance.”

Adding to the security at the vault was a sophisticated video surveillance system, not to mention the couple of thousand polar bears that roamed the island, and a contingent of the Norwegian army ready at hand!

Leaning against one of the vault doors is Krista, while clutching the phone in her pocket, and awaiting a word from her superior about the Sigma operative. “At her level in the organisation, she was expected to think on her feet, to improvise as needed,” informs Rollins.

“She slipped out her phone. So far underground she had no hope of getting a cell signal. But after arriving here she had excused herself from Ivar’s side and found an outside line in the office computer room. She had wired a booster into the line so she could use her phone here. She dialled one-handed. She had men standing ready at Longyearbyen. It was time to call them in. As the line was picked up, she spoke tersely and ordered them to secure al roads off the mountain. She wanted no surprises. Once done, she clicked off the line and felt more settled…”

“But before she could take a step, the phone vibrated in her hand. Her entire body went cold and trembled in sync with her cell. She lifted it to her ear…”

Gripping pace.


Consolidated auditing system

The new era of GRC (governance, risk management, and compliance) is firmly upon IT professionals, reminds ‘Applied Oracle Security: Developing secure database and middleware environments,’ by David C. Knox et al. (

As the custodians of data, IT professionals are being asked to protect personally identifiable information (PII), personal health information (PHI), and an assortment of other valuable data such as credit card numbers or bank account information used in electronic banking transactions, the authors note.

“We must now comply with the cadre of new legal requirements: Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), state privacy laws, the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard, EU privacy directives, Corporate Law Economic Reform Program Act (CLERP9), and Basel II to name just a few.”

Effective auditing is not just about security; it has added value for system and application profiling, reads a tip provided in the book. “Auditing can tell us who has accessed what, from where, when, and how. Another benefit of capturing audit data is that we can use this intelligence in considering overall enterprise IT issues such as resource distribution, scalability requirements, and underused and overused resources.”

With a consolidated auditing system, aggregate counts and group-by queries on the audit trail can show you patterns of interest, the authors instruct. They find that the three biggest audit factors that stand out as anomalies can be the time of day and day of week that something is accessed, the frequency of access, and the path used for access.

“The access path is usually a rigid, or static, access path from application server, through a database account to the data. If you find a strong deviation in either one of these factors, you have found something legitimate to investigate.”

Recommended addition to the risk managers’ shelf.



“We have started looking for people with poly-skills.”

“Such as, capability in Java and VB?

“Also, software developers who can safely drive, and fast coders who can man our food courts!”


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