Considering Patterns and Trends

Considering Patterns and Trends

By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting

“All great changes are preceded by chaos”

  • Deepak Chopra


Chaos theory is a fun interest of mine. For those that aren’t familiar, an extremely layman’s way of describing the topic is that if you examine a situation, series of events, or circumstances from enough angles, and gain enough perspective, patterns begin to emerge, even in an area of what is seemingly chaos.

The famous quote around the topic comes from Edward Norton Lorenz, who famously stated that “A butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere and ultimately become the decisive factor that causes a tornado…” This concept of the “Butterfly effect” has a key takeaway – that even insignificant variables and variations in an environment can have consequences that are both immense, and unexpected.

A core strategic thought process and exercise is that of pattern and trend recognition and analysis. By being able to gain perspective around an initial environment, condition, or situation, and considering all variables, even those that may not seem significant by themselves, you can build recognition in your organization and leadership team of patterns and trends in your industry, geography, competition, and client base.

With these patterns and trends documented, actions and investments can become self-evident. Take cyber-security for example. As of this writing, the plague of ransomware and unauthorized network compromises is rampant in the business world of the United States. Malicious actors have started to pivot away from “big game hunting” to targeting smaller organizations to avoid attention of government entities such as the FBI, CISA, and NSA. Simultaneously, those same malicious actors are starting to pursue a multi-pronged approach to successful attacks – not only will they remove access to network data and files via encryption technology, but will threaten public disclosure of the compromised data, as well as notifying identified partners, vendors, suppliers, and clients of the organization.

While all of this is occurring, software vendors have been having a long-standing trend of shifting people into subscription models (Software as a Service and annuities) versus perpetual purchase of software, and recently have started to push organizations into utilizing the cloud versus installing the software on a “server” in their organization’s datacenter. This pattern has recently combined with a legal practice of putting liability back onto the consumer for data backup and security – the software vendor is giving you a “platform” on which to run your business, but making the responsibility for monitoring, securing, and backing up your data the responsibility of your organization.

All of these items are somewhat disparate – Hackers and software companies are certainly not colluding with each other, in communications with each other, or basing business practices and strategies solely on each other’s actions. However, if you take these separate data points into a single, consolidated perspective, some conclusions do jump out and become self-evident. Below is a presentation of this data that comes from the StratOp™ strategic management platform created by Tom Paterson and licensed by the Paterson Center (

Hackers targeting SMBs Less visibility into techniques used because SMBs aren’t newsworthy We are going to have to pay more attention to security techniques and experts
Multipronged attacks Damage from attacks increased because of multiple vectors Our risk is increasing, a successful attack means more than just downtime
SaaS Software in Cloud Data is more accessible, anytime, anywhere Our data is becoming more exposed
Software Vendors not backing up our data Data backup is becoming more complicated due to cloud Our data could be lost in the event of an attack
Software vendors pushing security onto SMB Security is becoming more complicated due to multiple platforms and vendors Our security spend is going to increase. We have more security risks, not less with cloud


This presentation of those disparate facts shows a clear trend – that the modern small business has increasing security concerns, increasing security spending requirements, and increasing security risks.

All the items we mentioned are not items that the business necessarily has control over – after all we’re talking about hackers and software companies, not a small medical practice or law firm. However, by looking at these large data points, we can see massive implications to our organization in the “chaos” of the world around us.

Cyber Security is a bit of an easy pattern to spot, but the same results can happen through analysis of any area around your business, from labor patterns to supply chain, health and wellness information to environmental data.

What no one else can do for your organization is to show you the implications to you. An organization must take ownership of this analysis for itself, and string together the implications so it can proactively implement strategies and tactics to counteract these patterns.

If you’re struggling making sense of the chaos in your world or wondering how to pivot to some of the trends your seeing, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.

Always Forward,

Ian Richardson


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