Friday, November 10, 2017

"In Flanders Field the poppies grow..."

My father was old enough to be my grandfather.  He served with distinction in World War I in the U.S. Army Dental Corps.  He's pictured above in the back row, last soldier on the right in the photo.  His first wife of about 25 years died, and he married my mother.  They had two daughters, of which I am the oldest.

He didn't discuss life in the Army except in terms of the discipline and the routines he had to learn, which he passed on to my sister Mary and myself.  We learned how to "fall in," how to salute, and how to march "over hill, over dale." We learned how to dry ourselves off after a bath with a towel handled with great precision.   We had an old coal shed in the back yard that we used as a playhouse.  There we were able to pore over souvenirs he had of his time in the military, including the photo, above.

The day we call Veterans Day is the 11th day of the 11th month.  That was the day celebrated throughout Europe as Armistice Day -- the end of World War I on that date in 1917.  It has been celebrated as "Remembrance Day" in Europe since that year, but here we now call it Veterans Day, to honor those who served in all wars since then as well.  We remember them also on Memorial Day in May, where paper poppies are sold and worn to support veterans of foreign wars.

From World War I, we also have a famous poem that Dad taught us:
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
                 -- John McCrae

Tomorrow I will be remembering my father and all other veterans.  Don't blame veterans for decisions that are political and made top of the house in this country.  Having veterans in my classroom over the years has added to the richness of every discussion. 

Bending swords into plowshares these days takes another shape -- the logistical/intelligence gathering/decision making/project management skills that veterans learned in their time in the service are absorbed easily back into civilian life.  We honor veterans for their service, and I continue to support organizations like Team Rubicon, who take those skills that soldiers have learned and deploy them for good, to turn the corner on disaster response in this country and abroad.  To read more about Team Rubicon's work and even make a donation, check them out at

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celebrate Del

When I was a child, rituals made a great deal more sense than they do now.  I found more consolation in the religious trappings of pivotal moments in our lives until death.
Del Hazeley died abruptly and unexpectedly only two and a half weeks ago.  His funeral was last Thursday, an occasion to see again some of my former students and others from the university among a very large crowd that overflowed the church, too large to spend any time with his parents, his widow, or his brothers.
I have helped plan the celebration of his life that will take place next Monday at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium, in the Don James Room.  I was honored to be folded into the UW Police Department's planning process for the event.  Since Del's impact was so vast across so many different parts of the university, we expect a large turnout.  The UWPD has arranged for the jumbo-TRON that you see in the background of the photo above to display a joyous range of photos of Del at work and play.  Speakers will tell us stories that will make us laugh, and perhaps weep. There's music and a video and room for everyone to speak and to commiserate, but most of all to toast a remarkable life that had only just begun.  Del's mother, his wife and one of his brothers will join us.  Professor Harry Bruce, former dean of the iSchool, will be one of the lead speakers.
If you wish to join us, we'll start at 1pm and you can find instructions on parking and logistics on the UWPD website.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

He was so young.

I've only been teaching for five years, but have in that time never experienced the death of one of my students, particularly one that I continued to follow and mentor since he graduated in 2013.  I find his loss devastating, and would like to tell you a little bit about him.

Del Hazely was born in Sierra Leone, lived also in Gambia and came to the United States when he was eleven.  He took his undergraduate degree at Penn State University in Information Technology and African and African-American Studies.  He was a mid-career student in the University of Washington's iSchool Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) program when I had him as a student.  A paper he wrote for the "Ethics, Policy and Law in Information Management" course later was published in the Reflections on Risk II volume of research notes.  It's called "Bridging the Digital Divide: The African Condition." 

After he graduated that year (2013), we kept in touch.  I invited him to speak each year in that same class when the topic was the digital divide.  He talked about more than the paper, though, and explained how he had kept his connection with Africa, investing both time and money in projects designed to reduce that digital divide.  He had wit and passion in equal parts, and was respected by all who knew him and benefited from working with him.

Del worked in the UW Police Department while he was pursuing the master's degree, eventually managing the entire IT operation.  Since then, Chief John Vinson tapped Del to oversee the building of a new police station, starting with design and architecture, on through to completion.  Last year, he tapped Del again, this time to become director of strategy & organizational excellence.  There are no surprises here at all.  Del was one of the most professional people I've met anytime in my career.  With his understanding of both police work and technology, the sky would have been the limit. I saw him as a future chief of the Seattle Police Department, or even eventually if he wished it, as the head of a government agency like the National Security Agency (NSA).

As an alumni, Del came back to the iSchool to work on our Curriculum Transformation Project, to include more diversity and inclusion into our courses.

Our thoughts go out to his wife, Rose, and family, especially because of the unexpected nature of his death.  He will be missed in this community, and back in Sierra Leone as well.  He had only begun to make a difference in the world. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Horrror of Las Vegas

Flickr martin

"Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream." -- Euripides

It is like a scene from one of the suspense novels I read.  A lone gunman, whose normalcy is interrupted only by the fact that he was a high stakes gambler, murdered 58 people and injured another 400 or so.  From a high building, with semi-automatic rifles that had been modified to behave like automatic weapons, which are outlawed in this country to citizens.

Chasing the information is never easy.  From all the news accounts, we see how hard everyone -- including the media -- is working to find some hidden aberrations to complete the profile, to make the killer into a mental health problem, or a terrorist, or a very angry man.

The concern of course is that with all this attention on the gunman and his victims that others will want to try a copy-cat situation.  How will we know who those persons are and stop them?  What else can we do to minimize the likelihood that this will happen again?

No answers yet.  Add this event to the last several, and you have to wonder what kind of a society we have become.  Leading up to this mass shooting event, here's what we look like:

Orlando Nightclub (49 dead, 58 wounded)

Virginia Tech (32 dead, 17 wounded) 

Sandy Hook Elementary School (26 dead, 2 wounded)

Killeen, Texas Luby’s Cafeteria (23 dead, 27 wounded)

For more detailed recommendations on this topic, see my column published on October 9th, called "America as a Killing Field," which includes my thoughts on what more we need in terms of regulation.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


I am sorry to report that the excellent operational risk magazine, The Risk Universe, has ceased publication as of June.  I wrote twenty articles for the magazine from 2012-2017, and am now looking to publish them in a single volume with permission from the publisher.

On the ASA Institute for Risk and Innovation side, we have 26 new research notes by 25 different authors being published into Reflections on Risk IV later this fall.  When the volume appears, we will have published our 100th research note!  In the meantime, you can read any of them on the website in the "Research" section.

Meanwhile, I'm balancing operational risk writing and speaking with the highly volatile cybersecurity environment, especially as global uncertainty and challenges with North Korea and Russia abound.  I'm continuing to speak on conduct risk, which, to me, is like cybersecurity in that it rolls up to an overall operational risk framework.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rites of Passage and Reputational Risk Examples

Welcome back to me.  I've neglected this blog for many months, as other activities ate my time.

I will try to do better going forward.

Seattle had a hard winter and and is still in the midst of a cold and rainy spring.  I chalked up two long rounds of bronchitis, then took a fall that hurt my back.  I'm 90% back now, and the possessor of a Teeter inversion board from which I can hang upside down three or four times a day.

 I've been walking more and working again with my personal trainer twice a week.  Through the winter and into the spring, I've continued to teach my classes and interact with my students.

This quarter I'm teaching an introductory operational risk and information seminar.   We have a court-side seat to any number of operational risks, but the one I'm amazed by this week is reputational risk.  United Airlines has once again managed to get featured on social media (the video) and traditional journalism as well.  When we think about why we're upset, it's not just the horrific treatment of the doctor who did not want to give up his seat -- no, it's also because we have now had a lesson in what an airline ticket contract looks like, and we realize absolutely that "it could have been me."  Jimmy Kimmel's video that emulates the oily marketing tone that United uses has it just right.  Like thousands of others, I won't be flying United again, no matter how cheap the ticket.

The other reputational risk story appeared a few hours ago in the Wall Street Journal, and discusses how KPMG has had to fire five partners, including the head of its audit practice for a breach in the confidentiality of which KPMG audits would be examined by its regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.  Along the way in reading the article, we find that KPMG was Wells Fargo's auditor and never uncovered any wrongdoing in its sales practices. 

How do institutions like United and KPMG recover from such episodes?  How is our confidence in each affected by such news?  I'll be talking more about this topic in another couple of days when I write more about conduct risk in general.