Monday, October 19, 2009

Gray areas

The Prizes continue to be given. The Economics winners have an interesting bit of work behind them.

One of these, Mr. Williamson, has expanded upon a couple of ideas in his work: "The first is that a contractual agreement can never be complete; there are always contingencies that haven't been accounted for. The other is that people act opportunistically within the gray area of contracts to make sure they benefit the most, and that can lead to problems".

Oh, really, now? Somehow, common sense has taken leave of us, it seems. Ah, those sirens of abstraction, mathematics (flim-flam), computation, and pseudo-nerdism just seem to have gotten a very good grip on our senses. Tsk, Tsk.

What we could say is, just like with ethics, some rule needs to kick in when the area is gray. Well, as said before, that old 'golden' one was fine; note, 'golden' in this sense is entirely different than in the following usage: golden sacks.

Of course, we could also go into t-issues whose hold on the common sense seems to have wavered through various dynamics.

We'll say it again. The lesson applies to finance where we ought to run the thing with a non-profit focus, that is, anti-opportunism. By the way, I'll even volunteer.

Oh, by the way, what helps with the gray area in a company, besides ethics? Ah, culture. They ought to know that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trusted employees

Yes, business can do essentially stupid things very well. They can completely mishandle their workers, in many cases, and then wonder why things may not work as they should. We don't have to point to any company in particular, but those who look to get their knowledge off the shelf or to out-house expertise deserve what they get.

Now, again, no one company or party needs to take exception to this message here, but the stupidity will continue until a few lessons are learned. One of these lessons is a central theme here in these blogs.

That is, the thing called earned value which is 1/2 of a pair.

Believe it or not, those two in the pair of fair, and earned, value relate.

Now consider, earned value is supposed to let you know about progress in a correct and meaningful manner. We have all seen what happens when the disciplines involved let us down (thanks a lot, risk handlers and applied mathematicians).

Another one is control engineering, let's use it as a metaphor for discussing this thing and its issues.

First, let's look ahead and point to an important factor necessary for solution to the problems: the autodidact.

In any company, there are those who get things done even when they are mistreated or unrecognized. Well, local management can do a good job of keeping these people happy; it's those in the ivory towers, and personal jets, who have an entirely erroneous grasp of the situation.

Also, those who know this theme will appreciate this post; unfortunately, those without a clue are so dense as to not understand. Yes, some of the dense are superstar CEOs and what have you. Others seem to just tag along in order to get their names in the paper.

This blog, and its kin, on the other hand, want to address issues of substance, hopefully to help us determine workable solutions.

A recent edition of the IEEE Control Systems Society's periodical had a little quote that applies here: the level of accuracy that can consistently be achieved with any estimation strategy depends on the sensor configuration.

Now, granted that the framework in the paper was controlling an autonomous vehicle using model, and sensor, information plus the appropriate processing. Yet, it seems that this type of control is a paragon for any wide-spread process that is computationally framed and supported. The important thing here is what 'sensor' might mean in this example.

Well, the most important connotation would be the human who is integral to keeping the database updated by evaluating progress using hard-won expertise. And, that, Mr and Ms heads of companies, is not ever going to be off-the-shelf or out-housed. Some of the facility might be offloaded to the subcontractor, as Lean has shown. Yet, a very important part cannot be.

Ah, can this be done? Yes, we will have to adequately handle what are people matters. Who said that is would be easy?


10/19/2009 -- Gray areas are where your people make the difference, bosses. You break the hearts of your best assets and wonder why things don't work.

10/16/2009 -- 201K <-- 401K --> 25601K, this denotes the current financial gaming.

10/15/2009 -- We've just touched the surface here, folks. Of course, we need educated, and certified, folks. Medicine can not work without it. But, does your Dr run your life? The analog here is the company that outhouses and then wants to just sit back and let things happen while rolling in the glory and the dough. So, you know, things happen (or don't), and you get big delays, shoddy products, and the like. Another permutation here is the goal to use just general engineers, which is really trying to identify autodidactic traits. Looking for an electrical guy to act as a mechanical guy would take some additional learning on his part. But, the approach is not just about those with the talent sufficient to cover many fields; rather, it is the expectation that some mathematical, and computational, frameworks can succumb knowledge requirements sufficiently to then remove those viewpoints related to specifics of disciplines. Only a manager could think that, would be one response. We'll continue with the theme.

Modified: 10/19/2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who is to know?

As we see with most things, in finances, opinions abound around a spectrum. The trouble is that money is at the core of our existence, with everyone expected to earn their way. Except, some do get from the folks. Most don't.

Besides, mama and papa may have, but bless the child that got its own (paraphrase). Yet, we do expect those who are the, supposed, financial experts to have some notion of fiduciary responsibility.

One bit of controversy deals with non zero and bonds-equity (order here can be used to imply an opinion). The recent mania about the upswing in equities has the media touting that everyone ought to get on the bandwagon.

Always timely, a WSJ op-ed (Don't Get Hit by Crash at Finish Line) gives an appropriate message to the theme.

At a certain age, financial fall outs are more catastrophic than not. Oops is not just strong enough to describe the visceral effect.

Hence, for those who want to play with risk, a sandbox is very much appropriate.

So, in regard to one's money and risk appetite, the individual has the choice but needs to know. Here is the problem: do you really think that the spin, and clamor, of the present financial reporting mechanisms works to the little guys' benefit? Hah! If you answered yes, think again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Establishing value

What? Yes, think of 'value' as something to describe further. For now, let's just consider a couple of types which have been covered here: fair value and earned value.

Actually, given the preference of the blogger, that order ought to be reversed. The second deals with doing real things; the former tries to pin some value on results, albeit, nowadays, there is more a virtual (meaning, of course, not real - can't fly the stuff, can't eat it, can't do a lot of things, except exalt over others if you have a bunch, okay?) and gaming sense.

So, of late, everyone wonders about the underlying ponzi-ness of the economy that we've built ourselves out of the gab-standard sand (yeah, Ben, unwind your idiotic position -- hiding toxic wastes is not smart). It's a good question to ask.

Note: Fact is, if more than the golden sack'rs could benefit, then things could be a little nicer for everyone. Big Ben, are you listening?


03/17/2015 -- Still appropriate.

01/27/2011 -- The chimera shines. Even though, from a core and value sense, we do not know. Why? It's partly related to the computational underpinnings.

Modified: 03/17/2015