The Greatest Trojan Horse

Surveillance Capital 

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, in a special section titled One Nation,Tracked, the Times presented some frightening stories related to what Shoshana Zoboff calls "surveillance capitalism", which is the monetization of data captured through monitoring people's movements and behaviors online and in the physical world.

I’m worried about Google and Facebook. In my opinion, they have more info on citizens than governments themselves

Karl Ricanek, professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

Privacy is not private, because the effectiveness of these and other private or public surveillance and control systems depends upon what’s given up, or taken unbeknown. The insidious collection of data relies to some degree on acceptance, or tradeoff people make for digital toys, and immediate gratification. Numb to the intrusion, or distracted, masses fail to notice the abuse from surveillance capitalists who exploit the widening inequity of knowledge for the sake of profits.

When surveillance stopped at the data center the intrusion was contained, but as Steve Andriole, writes about in Forbes, the progression of peering into surveillance of anyone with digital devices has emerged to a point where company surveillance has become a best practice. Digital surveillance is now pervasive. It is central to entire national and global business models. No one predicted how pervasive it would become or how much revenue it would generate.

The greatest Trojan Horse, perhaps in history is the convenience digital toys provide. It's easy to order anything we want from Amazon, fun to download music, and books, find a date, a house, vacation and made to measure fashion online. But what’s the trade-off? not our souls, yet!

There’s no easy way out, the models that drive vast amounts of the economy are based upon volunteered data, even if the volunteers have no idea how generous they are. Where is this heading? California has taken a step, long after the Europeans took an important one to control the use of personal data. Will the California Privacy Act spread across the U.S.? 

A subtle shift in awareness is growing, building a movement for stronger privacy protection to readdress the inequity. Like many causes the process takes time, but the momentum is building and companies will be impacted.

Privacy Regulation

What companies are impacted and how?

The California Consumer Privacy Act will impact "Biz" Brother watching over you. It will be  a consideration for existing and future business models. It guarantees Californians the right to (1) know what personal information is being collected about them and who is buying it, (2) easily opt out, and (3) get equal service and price, regardless of whether they opted out.

The law, in effect this year, applies to companies with revenue of $25 million or more, ones that gather data on at least 50,000 California users, or those making more than half of their money from user data transactions.

Companies operating outside California or the E.U. may think they are exempt , but the privacy laws can still apply if their customers include residents of those jurisdictions. The laws do not prevent state surveillance or police from stalking "criminals", but could dent surveillance capitalism. Bill Hochberg, writes well on this in his recent Forbes article.

Organizational Checkup

Does your Company have value gaps?

Whether its an external business driver such as regulatory changes, or other discipline(s) like competitor analysis, measuring your risk exposure, implementing meaningful operating reports - ensuring behaviors are linked to goals to drive outcomes - it's hard for a business owner and leadership team to stay on top of everything. After all you don't know what you don't know! Where are your company value gaps? How would you know?

An organizational diagnostic is a tremendously cost effective, non-invasive way to achieve an evidence-based objective checkup on the business status. It provides a business owner and leadership team the ability to define strengths, flush out areas for improvement and any value gaps, then design plan to address them.

Many of Lavan's clients initially view and value a diagnostic as an independent “business body scan” - enabling an evaluation of an existing strategy plan and internal perceptions – considered a strategy audit, and or gap assessment.

Knowledge of Industry, markets and competitors enable comparison which can help a company define, drive, and deliver unique value.

Comparison requires a truth baseline driven from evidence. What do your financial ratio trends show? What’s your enterprise value? Which value drivers show weakness?  How agile are you? How aligned is your culture? What’s your risk exposure?

 Some of our clients specific challenges or roadblocks;

 What do you know with certainty about your company

  • Is what you know about your company true?
  • Even if true now, will it still be in the future?
  • Do you really understand your financial performance and trends?
  • Have you quantified your enterprise value and key operational deficits?
  • Are your staff, management and stakeholders all on the same page?
  • Have you built and supported agile structures, processes and mindsets?
  • Do you understand and manage both upside and downside risks?
  • Are you committed to quality in processes, talent and communication?


Discover is a fast, powerful assessment tool that shows how well your business is running, what's driving it, and how it compares to the market.

You don't need financial or detailed operational data to complete it, just a sense of your current performance for each of the 18 drivers of operational excellence.

Each discover assessment identifies:

  • Your company’s potential operational effectiveness
  • The gap between current and potential operations
  • Issues that make up this value gap
  • “Red Flags” that could compromise  your effectiveness
  • Comparison of your performance to your peers


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