By Thornton May
Futurist, Senior Advisor with GP, Executive Director & Dean - IT Leadership Academy
Data ESP – Exploitation [the ability to create value with data]; Sharing [the ability to distribute data]; and the ability to protect data will drive enterprise success for the next decade. THE number one barrier to exploiting, sharing and protecting data is – believe it or not – executive mindset and behavior. More specifically how the boss thinks about data and how the boss uses data.
Pearl Harbor – the Classic Case of Failed Data ESP
Admiral Husband Kimmel was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. He and his senior team failed to process five critical pieces of data.
Data Point #1 - On November 27, 1941 Kimmel received a dispatch from Washington from Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations which began: “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning,” and ended with “Execute an appropriate defensive deployment…”
Thomas C. Hart, Commander in Chief, of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, stationed in the Philippines knew what the message meant. Steve Twomey, author of Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days To The Attack To Hart, writes:
“The meaning of Stark’s warning could not have been clearer: Tommy, man your guns. Tommy, watch your back. Years later, in his eighties and still sharp, Hart would slowly enunciate the opening sentence to underscore how obvious the point was: ‘This is a war warning.’ That was ‘the whole thing,’ Hart would say, the rest of the message being ‘yakety-yak,’ except for the order to execute an appropriate defensive deployment, which also was clear and short. ‘Five words.’”
Kimmel knew war was coming. Instead of taking “defensive” precautions he continued to train and deploy resources for his preferred plan of action - “offensive” operations.
Data Point #2 – The Japanese Navy had a history of launching pre-formal-declaration-of war surprise attacks. In 1904, at Port Arthur in Korea the Japanese had attacked Russian ships before the legal formality of a declaration.
Data Point #3 – The U.S. Navy did not know where four Japanese carriers [Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and Soryu] were. Edwin Thomas Layton who became fleet intelligence officer December 7, 1940 when asked by Kimmel on December 2, 1941 where they might be remembers: “I said that I had no recent good indications of their locations.” Kimmel replied, “Do you mean to say that they could be rounding Diamond Head and you wouldn’t know it?”
The four missing Japanese carriers had gone silent two ways. They were not initiating any radio traffic and no one was directing radio traffic at them.
Joseph J. Rochefort, Officer in Charge of Station Hypo [the U.S. Navy’s radio signals monitoring and cryptographic intelligence unit in Pearl Harbor] testified: “I can offer a lot of excuses but we failed to do our job. An intelligence officer has one job, one task, one mission – to tell his commander, his superior, today what the Japanese are going to do tomorrow.”
Data Point #4 – Diplomats at the Japanese embassy in Washington, DC and the Honolulu consulate were burning confidential documents. The instructions to do so were contained in MAGIC [U.S. code breaking project] intercepts. Upon receiving MAGIC notification that the Japanese were destroying information Colonel Rufus Bratton of Army Intelligence asked one of his officers to go to the Japanese embassy and verify it by sight. Bratton’s scout could tell that on the grounds of their compound on Massachusetts Avenue, the Japanese had started a fire, not of wood but of paper.
Data Point #5 – If there was a surprise attack American planners knew what time of day [dawn]; which direction it would come from [out of the sun]; what day it would happen after [November 29th - Tokyo had told DC-based diplomats a deal had to be reached by November 29 or “things are automatically going to happen”] and how far out planes would be launched from [300 miles].
Defense planners – calculating ship and plane fuel capacities and navigational vectors had determined what a surprise carrier plane attack might look like. They had also figured out a search pattern to provide early warnings. The Pacific command took none of these precautions. None of the 81 PBY-5 planes were flying reconnaissance missions.
Every new piece of data arriving in the Pacific theater - the war warning, the disappearance and radio silence of four Japanese carriers, the deadline before “automatic action” and the burning of confidential files/destruction of code machines was infused with the meaning least likely to force Kimmel and his team [the bosses] to disrupt in-place training routines and war plans.
THE number one barrier to exploiting, sharing and protecting data is –executive mindset and behavior. More specifically how the boss thinks about data and what the boss does with the data.
How does your executive team treat incoming data?