Faith and Science

[ from A Man of Faith by scott pickard ]

I am a man of faith, and a man of science.  For me, scientific and spiritual views are compatible.  Otherwise, how else can you answer these questions:

  • Why is there something instead of nothing?
  • Why are we here?

It’s truly amazing if not a miracle that the universe follows mathematical algorithms so precise that we can use these algorithms to land a man on the moon.  Both science and spiritual are at work here, because something must be behind all this. It could not be a random accident.

I don’t know the answer, but I have “faith” that there is a profound truth behind it all that is outside scientific explanation.

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Super Intelligence

What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence?

Computer Science Artificial Intelligence What is the mind? in general: algorithm deelopment: Deep Mind | artificial general intelligence: strong AI | biomimetics: models for design of machines |  frame-based systems: recognition and description of objects and classes | portals: Deep Learning | semanitc networks: a set of concepts that are related to one another | Turin Experiment: about | thought experiments: Chinese Room expert systems: automated complaint resolution: cognicor | decision making: decision-making | machine trading: Dark Pools Patterson, Flash Boys   singularity big ideas: about | book: The Singularity Is Near Kurzweil | IBM Watson | moore’s law | Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence singinst books and papers: Accelerando Stross | Superintelligence Bostrom | The Emperor's New Mind Penrose  search Optimized | Robotics | Radio | Production | Big Data | Optimized | Google

Top programming languages

The IEEE Spectrum Top Programming Languages app synthesizes 12 metrics from 10 sources to arrive at an overall ranking of language popularity. The sources cover contexts that include social chatter, open-source code production, and job postings.

Methods of Business Organization Software & Web Development top programming languages  search AJAX | Apps | Automation | Buildings | Checklists | Cloud Computing | Collaboration | Computer Science | Content Management (Web) | Crowd | Cybersecurity | Decision Making | Ecommerce | Enterprise Systems | Gaming | Information Technology | Job Search | Lifetime Learning | Methods of Business Organization | Mobile | Network | Open Source Software | Outsourcing | Predictive Intelligence | Quality Management | Search Engines | SharePoint | Shopping | Startups | Streamimg Data | Teaching | Threat Management | Web Site | more Should we be teaching first-graders how to code?  Does the company have an ongoing training program that builds advanced levels of skill and productivity in the developer workforce?  Does the company have a network-based software configuration management system to control its software development projects?  Have we considered outsourcing our QA testing to a CMM Level 5 software testing specialist? (a) Functionality/Regression Testing; (b) Performance Testing; (c) White Box Testing/Code Review; (d) Compatibility Testing  Is the company making maximum use of state-of-the-art software tools to enhance the productivity and quality of every function?  Is IT using automated tools to scan source code and optimize performance? in general: automated testing & continuous deployment: circleci |book: A Software Design Manifesto by Mitchell Kapor | bug fixes: patterninsight | conferences: DreamForce | code protection: | refactoring | identify open source code:, | launchpad for emerging technology: | lifecycle management:, | On-Demand Distributed Software Development: | outsourced:, | professional development & skills: codeacademy, learn to code, skills | construx | search for software/apps: bestvendor, quixey | security: Building Security In Maturity Model bsimm | software production automation: | training: innerworkings | visualization before application development: | virtual factory: topcoder competitions agile: about | project management: rallydev java: collaboration: source code: Is IT using tools to rapidly scan application source code to identify coding flaws that leave critical applications vulnerable to attack and exploitation, so that these flaws can be addressed proactively? auto QA:, | distributed version control: github | free code hosting: bitbucket tools: record/replay bugs: | run code online: runnable | updates: user experience: DWIM do what I mean | performance management: bmc, knoa books and essays: Why Software Is Eating The World Andreessen


Director-CEO Relationship

by Scott Pickard

The foundation upon which an outside director builds an effective tenure on the board is based on a healthy and mutually respectful relationship with the CEO. The strength of this relationship is tested during two major lines of interaction (questioning) between the director and CEO.

When focusing the CEO on the highest-leveraged priorities for the business, the CEO and management are obligated each day to put out a certain number of operational fires while moving the company along towards the strategic plan and goals. There’s rarely time to kick back to think and discuss the big picture. It is the director’s responsibility to focus the CEO and fellow board members on the highest-leveraged strategic issues facing the company, and the director has a choice of interaction styles that fit the situation at hand:

  • Pulling – Asking questions intended to lead management (and the board) to a conclusion or action the director has in mind.
  • Pushing – Stating a position upfront and then defending the position against challenges from the CEO and board.


  • Supporting – Supporting management and encouraging them to act.
  • Challenging – Challenging management and requiring them to act.

The key word for directors is balance between these ranges of interaction styles with the CEO.  Confidence is a fragile commodity which is a powerful driver of human performance, and can be torn down quicker than it takes to build up. Coaches know that even the most talented of professional athletes are vulnerable to an erosion of confidence caused by a string of failures. So too directors must be aware of the confidence-affecting balance of pull vs. push, support vs. challenge that they practice with the CEO.

Trust Your Instinct
Focus and Accountability are the two principles of directorship that guide the director’s words and actions as they relate to the CEO. And the range of behavior the director can choose to serve each principle is broad and must be adapted to the personalities and situation at hand. Like any long-term relationship that is based on mutual respect, trust, and principles, there will be periods when the strength of the relationship between the CEO and director is tested by the stress of the director’s obligation to bring focus and accountability to management and the board.

The effective director has only his or her experience-based common sense, patience, flexibility, good timing, and instinct to rely on when navigating this course.


Art of the Good Question

by scott pickard


Constant vigilance.  This is the phrase most often associated with the responsibility of being a director. And to fulfill that responsibility there was never any better tool for the director than a well-formulated, well-timed, and well-executed question. In a perfect world (which doesn’t exist) there is for every company the perfect question that discloses at the right time a revolutionary business opportunity, or, a bankrupting disaster, such as:

Have you considered developing a standard operating system for PCs?


Has there been an external audit of our subprime mortgages?

It’s a possibility that the right question asked in the right way at the right time may have made someone else the richest person in the world, or, prevented a corporate icon from being brought to its knees. The perfect question, then, or even just a good question, is truly the director’s most powerful tool.

Characteristics of the Best Question
There are good questions, better questions, and best questions. What separates the best from the routine are three characteristics:

1. The best question is asked with the right content:
A director, like a CEO, must know a fair amount about many things, and this general knowledge must be translated appropriately to the specifics of the organization’s products, services, and market. The dilemma most outside directors face is that they will never know as much about the business at any point in time as the CEO, which leads many directors to assume that they cannot challenge management outside of shallow waters. This is dangerous thinking by directors, evidenced by the scrap heap of supposedly invincible companies and the lineup of directors who went down with the ship.

While the director generally knows what his or her answer would be, it is preferable to formulate the question so that management must fully discover and deliver THEIR answer, not the director’s.

2. The best question is asked at the right time:
Timing is everything as they say, and impossible to teach in the context of a board meeting. A good question asked too soon lands on deaf ears; and likewise, a good question asked too late is just that. The director’s best protection against bad timing is to function like an “audit radar screen,” always scanning left and right across the scope of the business, up and down the company hierarchy, and internal and external to the company to spot disfuntionality or a corporate UFO……Unwanted Failing Operation.

As a rule of thumb, if the question is not asked, the answer is generally not forthcoming either because management would just as soon not disclose that issue, or they haven’t even asked the question among themselves.

3. The best question is asked in the right way:
There is the “art of the deal” and there is the “art of the question”. One good question asked in the right way can start the process of disclosure, discussion, analysis, decision, and action to improve, correct, defend, or prevent. The primary person fielding the director’s questions is the CEO, who by definition is strongly confident in his or her ability to effectively manage the business, so developing the proper posture for questioning and dialogue by the director with the CEO is crucial to building and maintaining a director-CEO relationship that functions as it should for the company and the board:

  • Carefully construct the question to start a discussion, not to monopolize it.
  • Carefully construct questions that prompt logical follow-on questions by other members of the board to get them involved.

Asking questions about operational details is not necessarily micro-management by the director if the question meets the first two requirements of a good question. However, telling the CEO how you did something in your company (as if to say “you should do it this way too”) is micro-management, but asking the CEO what s/he plans to do is a focused act of accountability.

Not withstanding the responsibilities placed upon the board, directors must realize that real solutions to the challenges facing the company must ultimately come from the collective intelligence of management and employees. The question is the tool the director uses to tap that force, confirm its direction, grant it authority to proceed, and challenge and refocus that collective intelligence when necessary.

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