6. How do you lead cyber security through technical excellence? We asked Michael Perklin from Shapeshift

Artwork: Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue

“It is difficult to know yourself, if you do not know others.” Go Rin No Sho — The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

(This article is dedicated to Humberto, the best mountain guide and teacher I met in Sacred Valley, Peru. I hope he gets this message.)

“Perspective is distinct from intelligence but represents a high level of knowledge, the capacity to give advice and to recognize and weight multiple sides before making decisions. It allows the individual to address important questions about the conduct and meaning of life.” VIA Institute of Character

Michael Perklin is the Chief Information Security Officer at Shapeshift, Founder and Board Member of C4, the CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium, and Director on the Board of The Bitcoin Foundation.

Michael helped co-author the CryptoCurrency Security Standard and his work has secured hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptocurrencies. He has testified about Bitcoin at the Canadian Senate’s Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce.

Speaking to Michael inspired me, and I know will inspire you. For example, he describes how technical excellence is a process for challenging yourself where you are, and also improving on it. Michael’s story of his journey into bitcoin is an excellent example of his passion for living technical excellence.

One of his strengths that has followed him in his careers, would be crisis management. When something bad happens a lot of things need to be considered very quickly. Listen to how he describes his crisis management process with a practical example from Shapeshift.

In the token and blockchain economy with many protocols, it is not possible to enforce any security standards, as there is no CEO, no central authority and no formal “enforcement” authority. I asked Michael to share his invaluable experience in using a cooperative and collaborative approach to not only create the CryptoCurrency Security Standard, but also to create interest and participation through voluntary “opt-in”.

I also recommend you take notes of his description of the skill of “Swopping the argument”.

You will also be surprised to hear what Michael would teach a robot, and what he does for fun and relaxation.

Watch Michael talking about blockchain security and the Cryptocurrency Security Standard

“You need to have practices before you can have best practices.” Michael Perklin

Personal reflection and community of practice discussion after listening to Michael’s leadership practices and his presentation on security

  • What mindset, strategies and behaviours does Michael recommend to establish technical excellence?
  • What distinct “soft skills” does Michael demonstrate in generating leadership while maintaining leaderless forms of organizing?
  • What is “swopping the argument” and how does it enable Michael to generate perspective and therefore cyber security?

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Leadership Web 3.0 Principles, Practices and Habits

“Wars make not one great.” Master Yoda

What is the technical excellence and why does it matter in the distributed digital economy?

Image: Street Art from Steps 8 Limited

“Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a pre-existing solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function.

It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures.

Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments.

The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.” (Wikipedia, March 2014)

For an example of technical excellence, watch William de Lange’s technical excellence in display through his artful work on the life of Miyamoto Musashi, who continues to be a role model not only in his life time but for hundreds of years since.

Miyamoto Musashi: A Life in Arms is an impressive work of scholarship, offering insanely detailed recounts of Musashi’s battles and movements, some so richly rendered that you’d swear De Lange was present at the time, taking notes.” — San Francisco Book Review

Why is technical excellence important?

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done. “ Alan Turing.

For those who are interested in understanding the history of technical excellence in secret communication, cryptography and cyber security, this is a great resource.

How do you cultivate technical excellence?

“There is no warrior in the world today who understands strategy.”

“Recently there have been people getting on the world who are calling themselves strategists, but they are usually just sword fencers.

In olden times strategy was listed as one of the ten abilities and seven arts as aa beneficial practice. It was certainly an art, but as a beneficial practice, not limited to sword fencing. The true value of sword fencing cannot be seen within the confines of sword fencing technique.

If we look at the world, we see arts for sale. Men use equipment to sell their own selves.

As if with the nut and the flower, the nut has to become less than the flower.

In this way of strategy, both those teaching and learning the way are concerned with coloring and showing off their technique trying to hasten the bloom of the flower. They speak of this dojo and that dojo. They are looking for profit.

Someone once said immature strategy is the cause of grief.” From the Book of Five Rings — The final work on the art of swordsmanship and strategy by legendary Japanese ronin Miyamoto Musashi.

Personal and Team Leadership Reflection and Development Activities

  • Instead of thinking of yourselves as a “tribe”, what would happen if you think of yourselves as a “dojo”?
  • What can you learn and apply from the life and The Book of Five Rings of Miyamoto Musashi?
  • Create an event or workshop to practice “cross-argument” as described by Michael Perklin (see instructions below).
  • How can you create standards for good practice using a cooperative and collaborative approach (using the example described by Michael)?

Ready to try a Leadership Practice Tool: Practicing Swopping the Argument

This is a simple practice from Deep Democracy, and if you want to become more skilled, I recommend signing up for the Co-Resolve Leadership Program.

Select a topic that is controversial — for example, bitcoin and bitcoin cash.

  1. First some given rules

Acknowledge the basic conditions for this conversation.

We are having this conversation in order to maintain the relationship.

Nobody has the monopoly on the truth.

We will experience personal growth.

2. Make your own safety rules

Decide on your own set of safety rules for this conversation.

Record your safety rules.

3. Throw your arrows (make your point)

Each person takes a turn to say everything you want to say regarding the topic. For example, one person argues on behalf of bitcoin and says everything he/she wants to say about the topic.

Then the second person argues on behalf of bitcoin cash and says everything he/she wants to say about the topic.

Use short and direct statements (arrows).

4. Swop the argument: Argue on behalf of the other person

Each person now argues the point of the other person. For example, if person A was arguing for bitcoin, person A will now argue on behalf of bitcoin cash and support person B’s position.

Person B, who was arguing on behalf of bitcoin cash, will now argue on behalf of bitcoin, and support person A’s position.

5. Find the grains of truth

Each person has a chance to state which arrows hit home. What grains of truth did you find?

Record the truth

6. Resolution

If the conflict was about a specific decision, you will make it more easily with the grains of truth.

Be as concrete and practical as possible.

Make sure you both agree on the next steps to take.

Record the resolution and next steps.

(Adapted from the U+Me app for iphone and Deep Democracy/Co-Resolve Conflict Resolution process)

To use this in a group, all group members must argue for person A’s point, and thereafter everyone must argue for person B’s point. Afterward each person in the group must state the grains of truth from the debate/conversation.

Fun cultural immersion: Captain Harlock: Space Pirate

Captain Harlock: Space Pirate (宇宙海賊キャプテンハーロック Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku) is a 2013 Japanese 3D CG anime science fiction film directed by Shinji Aramaki. (Wikipedia)

And for scifi fans, here is a list provided by enthusiasts on Reddit.

Use the Leadership Web 3.0 publication for a cultural immersion. Start a Leadership Web 3.0 Community of Practice. Contact MaRi Eagar to find out more.

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