Defense is from Mars and State is from Venus



     "Hello Bob.  It's so very good of you to come over on such short notice.  It's a knotty problem indeed I've come upon, and I was hoping that your characteristically unique perspective might help me to solve it."


"Well boB, I'm not quite sure you have the right man for the job, but I'll give it a go.  What seems to be the problem?"


"Well, as you know, I have a very talented and diverse staff.  In fact, it is so diverse that language is a real problem, so I have resorted to communicating with them entirely through pictures."


"A picture speaks a thousand words."


"Exactly so.  That's why I was so taken aback by the responses I've gotten.  It seems that, no matter how hard I try, I cannot convey the same idea through them.  I've been trying to get them to understand the importance of attention to detail and how the omission of even the smallest detail can sometimes have drastic implications.  Of course I've started by showing them the big picture."


"And what is the big picture you have shown them?"


"I knew you would start at the macro level.  I just happen to have one here.  Now of course, this is just to get them started.  After I have shown them this, I then show much greater detail.  In fact, I have set up a method where I can drill down into the picture to show ever greater detail."


"Impressive.  So what does this big picture mean?"


"Well of course it is a picture of a vase."


"A what?"


"A vase."


"I just don't see it."


"And what do you see exactly?"


"Well, I see two faces."


"Two faces?  You've got to be kidding?"


"No, it's two faces alright."


"You mean to tell me, you don't see a vase?"




"What if I turn it this way?"


"Two faces boB."


"And this way?"


"Still two faces."


"I think I know the problem.  You just don't have sufficient detail yet.  I'll drill down and then you'll get the picture.  Now, what do you see."


"Well, all I see now is a nose."


"You see my problem I think, because that is really just a detail shot of the side of the vase."


"What vase are you talking about?"


"The one in the big picture."


"I never saw a vase."


"But I told you it was a vase."


"Yes, but I never saw it, and I am interpreting this detail in light of what I understood I saw.  Look boB, I think the real problem is that you can't see the faces."


"But I don't want to see the faces. It's not about faces, it's about this vase."


"But it is to me.  You see, I see two faces, and so when you give me greater detail, I am interpreting that detail in light of the context I have seen and understood.  I save that context both to interpret the greater detail at the operational and tactical level as well as refocus quickly on the strategic level when necessary.  It's called push, stack and pop.  I suspend operations on the strategic level, or push, to work on a lower level problem, but I stack, or save my context, so that I can interpret lower level operations as well as return, or pop back, to the same place I left off."


"The vase?"


"No the two faces."


"But it is the same place from which I started as well."


"No, your context is different although the format is the same.  You see, you're picture is a recursive set."


"A what?"


"It is a picture whose figure is also ground.  I can only see the ground, but you are trying to make me focus on the figure.  I am pushing from the ground, while you are pushing from the figure.  Ever greater levels of detail do not change my context."


"How then can I ever hope to communicate with this staff?"


"You must be able to see both the figure and the ground boB. You see, some of them will never be able to see the vase, so you must be able to understand the negative space which they do see and have them operate in such a way that the effects they produce in the figure, the vase, are what you desire.  Let them see two faces.  What's wrong with that so long as the outcome is what you seek?"