Michael C Hogan

Agile Product Development & Innovation Strategy


Sequoia Time: a tool for solving sequoia-scale problems

In an experiment, I posted a brief reflection on Sequoia Time on hitRECord. Here it is…

Towering nearly one-hundred feet above me, and below an additional two-hundred feet of living wood, grew a single branch larger in diameter than any tree east of the Mississippi River. Even more impressive, the branch’s bearer had seen the surrounding wood arise over a period spanning three millennia. Standing in the shadow of such a giant, I experienced the sequoia as a connective tissue, transcending the traditional boundaries of the human life span and time measured on a human scale.

I imagined time as it might appear from a sequoia’s perspective, a frame of reference I refer to as sequoia time.

Hypothesis: Many of the recurring problems faced by humanity (wars, segregation, bigotry and others) arise due to a combination of the human tendency to accept a given truth only once having experienced it firsthand and a lack of accessible recorded information about the missteps of our ancestors. To overcome these sequoia-scale issues, we must think in sequoia time.

If you have comments, please share them on Twitter — @mch82 #SequoiaTime. For more on Sequoia Time, check out my original essay on Sequoia Time from 2001. It’s a little wordy and academic, but I still think it’s worth a look.


Jefferson explaining church/state separation

Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to an association of Baptists explaining the separation of church and state.

The text of the letter as a sent and an earlier draft are part of the Library of Congress collection and make for an interesting read.

The line that jumps out at me:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

So Jefferson intended that government authority be limited to actions, leaving thoughts and opinions unrestrained.

I vaguely remember reading about this letter during American history class many years ago, but this is the first time I recall reading it… Fascinating.


My Three Rules for Twitter

It took me some time to figure Twitter out + a need to become more influential as a Design and Innovation thought leader.

What I’ve learned is that who a person follows says a lot about who they are. It’s not like Facebook where you’re saying “these are people I know” it’s more like “these are people who influence the information I prioritize and base opinions/decisions on.”

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Introducing the Bulls#%t Mountain tag

Inspired by John Stewart’s debate with Bill O’Reilly I’m introducing a new tag on my blog: bsmtn.

As the L.A. Times reported during Rumble 2012

The “Daily Show” host centered his remarks around the idea that many on the right live in an “alternate reality,” of which O’Reilly is allegedly the mayor. It’s a place, Stewart declared, where “problems are amplified, solutions simplified.” The name Stewart gave O’Reilly’s domicile was somewhat more spicy, but you get the drift.

The name Stewart gave O’Reilly’s domicile was “bullshit mountain” and starting today I’ll be using that tag to identify posts that bring poorly reasoned and overly simplified political positions back into the real world.


“Free Markets” are Fictional

In his article “Why health insurance is the problem and not the solution” Dr. David Mokotoff argues we need to return health insurance to the free market:

Health insurance is not sold in a truly free market, like home, disability, and life insurance products, etc.

Here’s the problem, nothing is sold in a free market. All products—especially insurance products—are sold in regulated markets. The free market is an idealized scientific model that works under ideal conditions where consumers have perfect information about product pricing and no regulations exist.

Here’s a great video that illustrates the difference between the real world and ideal scientific laboratory conditions using the age-old example of the feather and bowling ball drop experiment.

Just like the feather and the bowling ball, we don’t live in a scientifically ideal world, we live in the real world where some people are better educated and others lie, cheat, hold information secret and steal. The purpose of market regulation is to equalize all of that real-world human behavior.


Public Service: Engineerings Next Challenge

While some in the industrial engineering profession feel that engineers have no place in politics, this perspective is ruinous. It leaves unrealized the potential for industrial engineers to influence the development of legislation so that their specialized knowledge can be applied toward the resolution of important social problems. It is vital that professional industrial engineers question this outlook. It is also vital that professional industrial engineers assist in the development of an educational framework that promotes public activism in accordance with principles set forth in the engineering code of ethics.

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Barack Obama

Today marks the arrival of an exciting opportunity for change in the United States. Barack Obama has secured the nomination for the Democratic Party’s 2008 Presidential Candidate.

Mr. Obama brings a unique perspective to the political process. Rather than focus on political extremes, as so many do, he focuses on establishing common ground and common objectives.

Learn more at his website or read his book “The Audacity of Hope.”


Twenty Five

Amazing that year 24 went by so rapidly… So much has changed. I’ve lost and gained family, made many new observations and had many new experiences at work, traveled to some new places in the US, lost and gained friends (well, I guess I never really lose friends, but some do become distant over time… frequency and quality of interaction is really what I’ve lost). I think that I’ve become more critical of the world in the past year. I don’t expect as much of the world and that bothers me because I used to have so much more optimism. I’m hoping that 25 will see much of that lost optimism regained. My birthday today gave me a boost; friends and family shared their wishes for another fantastic year. I’m looking forward to it… the next quarter century is now underway.


Twenty Four

I’ve been meaning to begin writing for some time. Today I turned 24 and I figure a birthday is as good a time as any to start something.

A loose plan exists for Blended Perspectives. This is intended to become a collection of editorials and essays that bring together varied perspectives to explore topics relevant to contemporary events. I’m not sure how this series of articles will evolve over the coming days and months. Likely, it will shift and change much as I have throughout my life.

A guiding theme will be juxtaposition. This is a fantastic word that represents the act of bringing two seemingly unconnected items together to reveal new meaning.

I may also, on occasion, sprinkle in fragments of my life.


The Missing Link Between Spirit and Nature

Originally published November 12, 2001 for USC Writing 140. Updated December 6, 2001.

It is common for people to associate with nature a sense of spirituality. For many, this spiritual connection with nature can be measured in terms of the satisfaction received from the environment in which they exist (Easterbrook 117). Take, for example, the comparison of a traditional pet, the dog, and an electronic cyberdog currently manufactured by Sony Electronics. While both aim to provide their respective owner with companionship, the owner of the cyberdog does not experience the same sense of sharing an intimate relationship with his pet. Some might suggest this is due to the cyberdog’s lack of soul, an attribute increasing numbers of environmentalists apply to the natural world. People often apply the concept of soul to themselves as well. For many, it is the soul that gives a person his or her true identity, that identity lost when the soul passes from the body at death leaving only an empty shell in its place. In the context of environment, soul thus may be thought of as the possession of unique characteristics brought about by a random evolution of genetic material.

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