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Reflecting information risk journey

Archive for March 2009

Passing destination

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I managed to get up early this morning and went for a jog around the hotel area. My destination was a palace building nearby. According to my colleague, it was about 2 km away, and to-and-fro, I would have covered around 4 km. I didn’t check the map or look around from my window before I start. I got down to the ground and with just a simple warm-up, I began running. I ran along a well paved foot path skirting the hotel and on my right, there was a river flowing, flanked by rows of cherry blossom trees that were just starting to bloom. The air was cold but the sun had risen and on those pathway where the sun was shining, the feeling was great. I was enjoying the sight and scene around and my pace continued. I realized that as I followed the foot path, which was bending towards my right, along the flow of the river, I didn’t see any palace around. Thinking that the palace might be still a distance to go, I continued to jog forward, passing first the Yotsuya station, then the Ichigaya station, and finally reached Iidabashi station. It was around 22 minutes since I started (according to my iPod Nano clock). Where’s the palace? I wondered.

As I’ve not been running regularly recently, I decided to U-turn and get back before my breath runs out, and the total time would be around 40-45 minutes by then. On the way back, I started to look on my right side (which was my left earlier) and shortly passing the Yotsuya station junction, I suddenly realized that, eh, the palace was there, just on my right! It was one of the entrance, with light blue and white colored architecture. It wasn’t the main palace though, seems like another grand building (something like a White House, but in blue), as the main Tokyo palace is near the Tokyo station. A beautiful sight in any case. I got back and calculated the distance, and it worked out to be around 6-7 km in total, a few km more than what I’ve intended, and passing my destination without even noticing.

DSC06109 Stitch

As I reflect on this, after passing the palace, on my way back, it occurred to me that this sort of missing destination thing happens when we are either too focus on a particular task or attraction (or distraction). This perhaps relate to what we call “situation awareness”, which is something we need to keep on tap constantly, especially when we don’t exactly know how our destination would look like. In fact, I only have a view of the palace from my hotel window (see picture above) from one side, which does not tell how the gate on the other side would look like. In fact, I didn’t pay much attention to the palace view at the window until this morning, after the run. Besides the gate, there was just an entire stretch of high wall, which on the ground, there’s no sight of the palace within. It is all too easy to pass our destination (objective) and continue to run forward until we stop, or in this case, until I turned back and look around.

The notion of situation awareness relates also to knowing and understanding what’s happening around us, in the geography where we are in. From an information security management perspective, this relates to knowing the kind of incidents that are frequent, the social-economic behavior and development, the policies, regulations and standards that are in place, developing and/or changing, and the industry development and responses to these changing situations. Our internal information security program while addressing internal business concerns and needs, has to also maintain relevant in view of these external changes that are taking place. It might be easier said than done perhaps, but I guess having this reflective thought from a casual run to remind me of the importance of this is certainly an intangible value-add from the early morning run 🙂

Written by mengchow

March 28, 2009 at 1:13 am

Posted in Risk Management

Flight delayed, arrival nearly on schedule

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I had my second trip to our Shanghai office and engineering center this week. Unlike the previous trip last month, the weather was fine most of the days–truly a feeling of the spring season. As usual, the flights between Beijing and Shanghai are always crowded, even though they have in general one flight taking off at every 15 minutes interval. The enroute flight to Shanghai was almost on time, but the return flight was delayed for more than an hour. The flight, however, landed in Beijing only 20 minutes later than scheduled. I was amazed. How was this possible?

While the actual time for the plane to fly from Shanghai to Beijing (according to a pilot friend) is one hour and 45 minutes, the published schedule was two hours and 20 minutes. Effectively, the airline has 35 minutes lag time for execution. Whether this is due to poor planning, or deliberate provision to manage the frequent flight delays, the extra time was working to the benefit of the airline. The flight that I boarded at the Shanghai airport was also not actually the original scheduled flight. Knowing that the flight will be delayed (since arrival has been delayed), the check-in staff voluntarily placed me on an earlier flight (which still had seats available) which was already delayed for an hour at that time. This flexibility was much needed and most welcomed on a Friday evening’s flight home. With the initiative of the ground staff, and the extra time placed in the schedule, I therefore arrived at Beijing airport only 20 minutes later than scheduled. Maybe the pilot was also stepping on the accelerator throughout the journey. Anyway, this has resulted in many happy customers, including me. The episode perhaps showed what the management gurus meant by setting low expectations to provide more opportunities for success, and achieve higher customers satisfaction when the expectations are met or exceeded. By the way, this was the China Eastern Airline, not Air China as well.

Written by mengchow

March 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Travel

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