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Global Insights Archive
Destiny and Systems:
More Questions than Answers
by Craig A. Anderson
January 2005

We started this month's newsletter with the intent of writing a perky piece about the
importance of vision, organizational renewal, etc. (you know, the usual stuff that
consultants like to prattle on about) but watching the horrific scenes of death and
destruction coming out of South Asia this week, we had to step back. When our
family goes to the beach, it is normal practice for our two boys, (ages 8 and 10) to
grab a bunch of toys and head for the water as soon as they wake up, while Mom
and Dad putter around, make coffee, and gather energy for the day. Even now I
can't imagine the horror of watching a gigantic wave come out of nowhere and in
one predatory gulp take all the children away.

Some words from Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat come to mind:
"Tis all a Chequer Board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces Plays
Hither and Thither moves, and mates, and slays
And one by one back in the Closet lays."

Yes, Destiny certainly played with Men this past week.

At the same time, Destiny is not everything. Systems were involved in every stage
of this unfolding catastrophe. Systems for detecting seismic activity. Systems for
analyzing data. Systems for deploying information. Systems for responding to

Our readers know that we think a lot (OK, "obsess" may be a better term) about
systems and how to assess, analyze, and improve them. Amid the carnage, we
can't help but think about how effectively each of these systems functioned,
independently, and collectively. Many hours passed between the quake, the first
wave impacts on Sumatra, and the wave impacts on Sri Lanka, India, and East
Africa. Potentially life saving information didn't get to where it needed to get to,
and/or wasn't acted upon. At a time when we are all so proud of our global
communication networks.

Anyway, this topic has drained me emotionally. Time, like life, is fleeting, and
capricious.  We promise to be back in February with a renewed purpose and
more of the ideas that you come to expect from us, but for now we are spent. Let's
begin 2005 with a commitment to do the best job we humanly can to fulfill our own
personal and organizational missions. And to be ready for that time when Destiny
decides to move to the Chequer Board.

Until next month, stay well, and thanks for being part of the Global Performance
Systems, Inc., team. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.