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RE: [ona-prac] SNA/ONA: for researchers or practitioners?

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  • John Maloney
    Hi Laurie - Yeah, the 6-Sigma people have done a nice job of (over) institutionalizing their technique. BTW, 6-Sigma is easily Number One - The Stupidest
    Message 1 of 13 , Mar 29, 2011
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      Hi Laurie –

       

      Yeah, the 6-Sigma people have done a nice job of (over) institutionalizing their technique.

       

      BTW, 6-Sigma is easily Number One  The Stupidest Management Fad of ALL Time – The Mother of All Stupid Management Fads Have a look:

       

      http://networksingularity.com/2010/11/19/the-8-stupidesthellip-2.aspx

       

      Couple more comments.

       

      Ego-fueled consultants are not necessarily bad. I’ve hired and used plenty from BCG, McKinsey, Vanguard, Charles River, etc. For these highly paid people there is an expectation of a certain degree of arrogance and narcissism. It is not pejorative. Rather, it is necessary, an expectation of the interaction.

       

      Sometimes, organizations need ‘insultants.’ Often, we just want/need incisive opinion. That’s why we pay a lot. The last thing we want is mealy-mouthed milquetoasts. Everybody’s happy since the ego-consultant will do their job and then, mercifully, just go away…   

       

      The problem with S/V/O network analysis isn’t necessarily science. Rather, it is the overbearing focus on technique at the expense of impact and outcome.

       

      Methods like 6-Sigma scale because they deal with deterministic order systems. They outcome and goal is always known, e.g., lower defects. The 6-Sigma problem space is well bounded and operational, not strategic.

       

      The network analysis opportunity is always complex, strategic and unknown. What must drive it is NOT technique but impact and outcome. This is the nub of the issue.

       

      In SNA and VNA there are a lot of technique bullies. They do not have the business acumen, consulting ability or leadership chops to divine likely business outcomes in advance. Thus, they devolve into eye-watering technique, turgid pontifications and mind-numbing hubris. It repels users, stunts adoption and is just plain ridiculous. Game over.

       

      If a prospect says, “Gee, you are a recognized authority, could you run a SNA on my outfit?” Politely conclude the meeting and excuse yourself. It is what the authentic network analysis pros do. Unless you can engage at a higher level, chances of success are slim. It is key to scope the business impact. Unless you are working on a business outcome, then you are just an everyday SNA instructor.

       

      VNA and SNA are techniques. The only ‘management discipline’ rqr’d is a sanguine network mindset. Leading with technique, science-based or otherwise, will always fail. Sometimes, ‘insultants’ are rqr’d to correct fundamental thinking defects.

       

      To scale S/V/O/NA correct mgmt’s bias to process mental pathology. Trust me, unlearning a century of Taylorism and Fordism is not easy. Today’s crushing legacy of Fordism is the principle barrier to SNA scale, not science.

       

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordism   

       

      BTW, note the stunning disasters when 6-Sigma was applied to complex systems like customer service and support. Ha! What a delicious, sublime farce.

       

      Cheers,

       

      -j

       

      From: ona-prac@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ona-prac@yahoogroups.com]  

      Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 2:21 AM
      To: ona-prac@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: SV: [ona-prac] SNA/ONA: for researchers or practitioners?

       

       

      Hi Patti

    • Valdis Krebs
      Great insights Matt! Orgnet now has a data base of high performing organizations and their network patterns and training/mentoring on how other organizations
      Message 2 of 13 , Mar 29, 2011
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        Great insights Matt!

        Orgnet now has a data base of high performing organizations and their network patterns and training/mentoring on how other organizations can get there.

        The big obstacle remains, as Matt mentioned, managers unable to "see in terms of connections" or believe that connections matter. The above research helps us focus management on PERFORMANCE!

        Valdis
        http://orgnet.com
        http://thenetworkthinkers.com


        On Mar 28, 2011, at 5:48 PM, Matt Moore wrote:

        > Consultants need to start talking about network improvement.
        >
        > I also think there's a simple awareness factor. Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks - but an increasing number do.
      • John Maloney
        Hi Matt -  Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks... Yes, of course, this is correct. However, the irony is they DO
        Message 3 of 13 , Mar 29, 2011
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          Hi Matt - 

          "Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks..."

          Yes, of course, this is correct. However, the irony is they DO see the balance of their lives in terms of networks. With family and friends, for example, most all command a prosperous mastery of networks. Why they dismiss it the moment they cross the threshold of work is the problem to solve. 

          In addition, these 'business decision makers' have been doing SNA for decades vis-a-vis the org chart. The org chart is a simple hub and spoke network structure. Every time they move a box or reporting link to improve performance, to modify a network pattern, it's a crude (and ineffectual) form of social network diagnosis and analysis.

          It is easy to convince managers that the org chart is a network. It can furnish a worthwhile stepping off point for more authentic, performance-led SNA.

          Thanks for the thread.

          -j  

          --- On Mon, 3/28/11, Matt Moore <innotecture@...> wrote:

          From: Matt Moore <innotecture@...>
          Subject: Re: [ona-prac] SNA/ONA: for researchers or practitioners?
          To: "ona-prac@yahoogroups.com" <ona-prac@yahoogroups.com>
          Date: Monday, March 28, 2011, 2:48 PM

           

          Hello,

          Very few clients buy "network analysis" but many organizations are becoming aware of the networked nature of their business.

          I don't see SNA as a new six sigma but I do see it as the next business process mapping. N.B. Clients don't buy business processing mapping (BPM) work, they buy process improvement.

          You can do time-consuming BPM with expensive modeling software or you can you it with a pen and the back of an envelope.

          Consultants need to start talking about network improvement.

          I also think there's a simple awareness factor. Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks - but an increasing number do.

          Cheers,

          Matt Moore
          +61 423 784 504
          Sent from my iPhone

          On Mar 29, 2011, at 12:06 AM, "Patti Anklam" <patti@...> wrote:

           

          Hi,

        • Bob Bater
          ... networks
          Message 4 of 13 , Mar 29, 2011
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            Matt said:

            >
            Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks <
            Lamentably true. But many do not even get as far as taking a process view either. It's a double-whammy. IMHO, we need to 'educate' decision-makers in both BPM and ONA and their synergistic relationship(s).

            Ciao,

            Bob

            On 28/03/2011 23:48, Matt Moore wrote:  
            Hello,

            Very few clients buy "network analysis" but many organizations are becoming aware of the networked nature of their business.

            I don't see SNA as a new six sigma but I do see it as the next business process mapping. N.B. Clients don't buy business processing mapping (BPM) work, they buy process improvement.

            You can do time-consuming BPM with expensive modeling software or you can you it with a pen and the back of an envelope.

            Consultants need to start talking about network improvement.

            I also think there's a simple awareness factor. Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks - but an increasing number do.

            Cheers,

            Matt Moore
            +61 423 784 504
            Sent from my iPhone

            On Mar 29, 2011, at 12:06 AM, "Patti Anklam" <patti@...> wrote:

             

            Hi, all,

             

            I invite you to read Laurie Lock Lee’s recent blog post: “Can SNA be the new Six Sigma?” http://governanceandnetworks.blogspot.com/2011/03/can-sna-be-new-six-sigma.html as it asks an important question for ONA practitioners:

             

            ·         Do we need to separate our practice from the science of SNA in order for it to become an established management discipline?

             

            You may want to post your responses to the blog itself, as well as in this forum.

             

            /patti

             

            Patti Anklam

            Net Work: Leveraging Content, Knowledge and Networks

            Harvard, MA 01451

            +1(978)456-4175

             

             

          • Laurence Lock Lee
            Sorry for the long post but....I guess when I wrote the original post I was looking for something that could create a step change in the adoption rate of SNA
            Message 5 of 13 , Mar 29, 2011
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              Sorry for the long post but....I guess when I wrote the original post I was looking for something that could create a step change in the adoption rate of SNA by business. Education and coaching of business decision makers is clearly critical and I'm sure all practitioners on this list and others do this at every opportunity. But the fact remains that the pace of adoption is still frustratingly slow. I note Morten's arguments for keeping the links to the science. I'm not suggesting that clients may not be interested in the underlying science and theories. In fact that is often how we get jobs. My point is that there are not enough of these inquisitive early adopters to get us up the growth curve....as illustrated by the Gartner hype cycle John provided. 

              As to business case studies ...just a personal reflection....most of you will know of the roundtable that Rob Cross has been running for several years now. Rob has been very successful in engaging mainstream businesses to join this roundtable and collaborate as a 'community' in sharing experiences in applying SNA. Andrew Parker often ran Ucinet tutorials as part of these sessions. The company myself and my business partner used to work for was an enthusiastic member ... and not just because Rob's wife worked there :) We conducted some joint projects (internal and external) and I attended a session in Boston and was particularly impressed by the number and nature of the organisations that had paid to join up. On reflection however, the people at the workshops were early adopters (including us). I don't believe the diffusion is happening fast enough yet, despite the abundance of compelling case studies. Since we left 5 years ago, I doubt that my old company has conducted a single SNA study...though I'd be delighted to be proven wrong. This experience has contributed to my views about complexity of tools. The Roundtable people and many others are often introduced to SNA through Ucinet and Netdraw. These are tools designed for academics, not practitioners. It would have been like starting a six sigma green belt (is that the lowest?) session by demonstrating the intricacies of SAS or SPSS.

              I note Valdis' post about his performance database, relating patterns with performance. We have done something similar having been doing SNA projects for over a decade now .... though I'm sure our data base is smaller than Valdis'...he's been doing it for much longer! Maybe this is part of the answer. I know the APQC and other benchmarking organisations have benefited from this. Perhaps we need to share our designs and come up with one that we can leverage more broadly.

              Finally to Matts comments, who knows my position on this as seeing BPM as the 'enemy'.... or more accurately BPM proponents who push the approach beyond its capabilities. I'd like to think that the social software movement has helped our case here as business decision-makers struggle with their  @home and @work personas. There was a time when PCs were only an @home tool! But I am fearful that entrained 'top down' thinking as noted by Joshua Letourneau's comment on the Linkedin SNAP group; which I abstract here: 

              ' In North America, 99% of those working for the larger Mgmt Consulting firms graduate from the typical white-box, top-20 Business School (which is largely driven by socio-economics here in the U.S.) These programs emphasize elements (formal, hierarchical, linear processes and procedures, causality, etc.) that are largely debunked by SNA'

              Maybe this is back to John Maloney's comment about getting to the students and MBA programmes.....let's hope its no that hard!


              Laurence Lock Lee PhD
              Partner, Optimice Pty Ltd
              Ph: +61 (0)407001628
              www.optimice.com.au
              Blog: http://governanceandnetworks.blogspot.com/
               
              Learn to network, then network to learn




              On 30/03/2011, at 7:39 AM, Bob Bater wrote:

               

              Matt said:

              >
              Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks <
              Lamentably true. But many do not even get as far as taking a process view either. It's a double-whammy. IMHO, we need to 'educate' decision-makers in both BPM and ONA and their synergistic relationship(s).

              Ciao,

              Bob

              On 28/03/2011 23:48, Matt Moore wrote:

               
              Hello,

              Very few clients buy "network analysis" but many organizations are becoming aware of the networked nature of their business.

              I don't see SNA as a new six sigma but I do see it as the next business process mapping. N.B. Clients don't buy business processing mapping (BPM) work, they buy process improvement.

              You can do time-consuming BPM with expensive modeling software or you can you it with a pen and the back of an envelope.

              Consultants need to start talking about network improvement.

              I also think there's a simple awareness factor. Many business decision makers still do not see the world in terms of networks - but an increasing number do.

              Cheers,

              Matt Moore
              +61 423 784 504
              Sent from my iPhone

              On Mar 29, 2011, at 12:06 AM, "Patti Anklam" <patti@...> wrote:

               

              Hi, all,

               

              I invite you to read Laurie Lock Lee’s recent blog post: “Can SNA be the new Six Sigma?” http://governanceandnetworks.blogspot.com/2011/03/can-sna-be-new-six-sigma.html as it asks an important question for ONA practitioners:

               

              ·         Do we need to separate our practice from the science of SNA in order for it to become an established management discipline?

               

              You may want to post your responses to the blog itself, as well as in this forum.

               

              /patti

               

              Patti Anklam

              Net Work: Leveraging Content, Knowledge and Networks

              Harvard, MA 01451

              +1(978)456-4175

               

               



            • John Maloney
              Hi – Process mapping is futile, counterproductive and harmful in knowledge-based organizations and activities. Organizations are social systems. They are
              Message 6 of 13 , Mar 29, 2011
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                Hi – Process mapping is futile, counterproductive and harmful in knowledge-based organizations and activities. Organizations are social systems. They are emergent. The ridiculous analytic reductionism of process engineering and mapping hurts performance, people and organizations. Beware. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the 21st not the 19th Century. See:

                 

                http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/29/opinion/29brooks.html?pagewanted=print

                 

                C’mon, BPM? Really? Good grief.  

                 

                “…pen and the back of an envelope…”

                 

                Matt’s right, a ‘SHA’ (short-hand abstraction) is very powerful. A simple social graph is a potent SHA.

                 

                BTW, if BPM is so great, why isn’t it a SHA? See:

                 

                http://www.edge.org/q2011/q11_index.html#greenej

                 

                 

                 

                -j

              • John Maloney
                Hi Laurie -- Maybe this is back to John Maloney s comment about getting to the students and MBA programmes.....let s hope its no that hard! This was my
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 2, 2011
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                  Hi Laurie --

                   

                  "Maybe this is back to John Maloney's comment about getting to the students and MBA programmes.....let's hope its no that hard!"

                   

                  This was my suggestion, but not really what was meant. For MBA programs is too late, kids are already way gone by then. Look, universities are corporations. Many traditions are monastic and draw from canon law. They mostly furnish continuity, stability and automata like any good bureaucracy.

                   

                  In addition, sadly many universities are preoccupied with producing gladiators for ‘March Madness’ and the ‘Pac 10.’ Coaches earn millions, professors not so much. Curricula are rigid and dogmatic, so forth and so on. Many universities are simply failing civil society.

                   

                  Rather, the network transformation must be more like Peter Thiel’s 20 Under 20use investment capital to encourage kids to drop out of school to develop ideas, solutions and products. See: http://bit.ly/ct3zLq 

                   

                  Recall, many of the great the leaders today, Gates, Ellison, Dell, Jobs, etc., are dropouts. Create an environment for iconoclasts not conformists.

                   

                  The other thing is STOP innovating. That is a path to oblivion. Creating modest, incremental process productivity growth, also known as innovation, is a total waste. It’s one definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Or put another way --

                   

                  "The righter you do the wrong thing, the wronger you become.

                  It is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right." Ackoff

                   

                  Process thinking is a suffocating framework that repels people, networks, variation, complexity. It is the classic ‘race to the bottom.’ Sorry folks, there is really NO way to get from a process mindset to networks. Also, the network mindset is NOT a process innovation!

                   

                  Network thinking is a mutation: an entirely new frame of reference. Network mutations require a SUDDEN departure from the parent organization in one or more heritable characteristics. This will never be accomplished with a dopey MBA curriculum adjustment.

                   

                  Network mutation is caused by a fundamental change in an organizational gene or a chromosome. ONA is instrumental in seeing and understanding the genetic structure, including its defects and advantages. ONA and the network mindset aid continuous mutation, thus altering the evolutionary nature of the organization. This, in turn, achieves new levels of growth and prosperity.

                   

                  Meanwhile, mutation of the ossified MBA/university establishment should not be expected.

                   

                  -j

                   

                     

                    

                   

                   

                   

                   

                • John Maloney
                  Hi Laurie – Thanks again for raising and pursuing this key issue. I was looking for something that could create a step change in the adoption rate of SNA by
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jun 2, 2011
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                    Hi Laurie –

                     

                    Thanks again for raising and pursuing this key issue.

                     

                    I was looking for something that could create a step change in the adoption rate of SNA by business.

                     

                    Here forthwith are some practical approaches to SNA pull-thru. They have created uplift for most of the new network business concepts here in Silicon Valley.

                     

                    IMO, taking an entrepreneurial approach to SNA is the best way to create the tipping point we want. It is important to firewall the authentic network science scholarship. Same for the malignant narcissism masquerading as network ‘thought leadership.’ Quarantine the pseudo-science network quacks too.

                     

                    Simply behave as a SNA entrepreneur

                     

                    The prevailing model is Lean Startup. here are the key principles.

                     

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_Startup

                     

                    The foundation is radical customer interaction. (Gasp!). The first rule is to get-out-of-the-building and in-front of customers. Forget about talks, conferences, papers and all the trappings of consulting. In Lean these are ‘waste.’ Focus on conducting perpetual, face-2-face conversations w/customers. That’s the technique. Ta-da!

                     

                    Another component is the minimally viable product. Let’s face it ONA-Prac, 90% of what is offered in lofty network analytics today by the boutique charlatans is useless. It is overweight, pedantic hubris. It produces no customer benefit. Thus, it is why these network snake-oil companies fail – no customers. That’s all. Sorry you had to hear it from me sports fans, but it is true. L

                     

                    Bottom line is two things matter to SNA startups: business talent and customers.   

                     

                    Here is the Lean Startup  global Meetup network.

                     

                    http://lean-startup.meetup.com/

                     

                    Description: Description: cid:image002.png@01CC20C9.9B4816D0

                     

                    Basically, they have gone from zero to 21,000 members in the last 18 months. BTW, Interesting to see how network diffusion of a legitimate concept community really works. You may like the ‘Timeline Animation’ above. My role was as an early pioneer/advocate/evangelist and am very active locally as a Leanist.

                     

                    Also, here are some germane mandates from a good colleague and Silicon Valley’s most recently minted social graph billionaire (May 2011)…

                     

                    Here are Reid Hoffman's top mandates for entrepreneurs:

                    1. Be disruptive. Ask yourself: "Is this massive and different? It's got to be ten-times different. It's got to be something that changes an industry." Hoffman uses Skype as an example, calling it a disruptive company because, "it removes these very expensive cross barrier phone charges."

                    2. Aim big. You'll probably wind up plowing the same amount of time into a small business as you will a big one. So, don't be intimidated by your own big ideas, as there are multiple ways of realizing them.

                    3. Grow your network. Your network includes investors, advisers, employees and customers. With a broad network, you have the ability to make important, global-sized changes.

                    4. Plan for better or worse. Part of planning is that you might come across something you weren't expecting and you pivot. And if something doesn't work, you must ask yourself: "What is my Plan B?"

                    5. Maintain flexible persistence. On one hand, the goal is to have a vision and be persistent. On the other hand, flexibility and being able to change based on what your customers want is paramount. "The art is knowing when to be persistent and when to be flexible and how to blend them."

                    6. Launch early. "Unless you're Steve Jobs, you're most likely partially wrong about what your theory was." So launch early and often. Launching early attracts customer engagement, and it's the customer who's going to tell you what's wrong so you can correct it.

                    7. Seek honesty. You need friends who will tell you that you have an ugly baby. Keep your aspirations high, but don't drink your own Kool-Aid -- all the while leveraging the advice of your friends.

                    8. Be everywhere. It's important to have a great idea for a product, but it's downright vital to have a wide distribution of it. "You can have a kickass product, but if it doesn't get to millions of people, it's irrelevant."

                    9. Culture is key. You must get hiring right the first time. While experience is impressive, you'll need people who can adapt and thrive amid volatility -- especially in the beginning.

                    10. Break these rules. The rules of entrepreneurship are not laws of nature. You can break them. What's more, don't listen to all of the rules all of the time.

                     

                    The frustration with network didacticism and turgid theory is our own ‘ugly baby syndrome.’  

                     

                    Yes, the message here is to approach SNA like a business (double gasp!), notably a startup business. Focus on business talent (not loopy theories) and customers. IMO, this is the only way to get a “step change in the adoption rate of SNA by business.”

                     

                    Bonne chance à tous…

                     

                    -j

                    From: ona-prac@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ona-prac@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Laurence Lock Lee
                    Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:08 PM
                    To: ona-prac@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [ona-prac] SNA/ONA: for researchers or practitioners?

                     

                     

                    Sorry for the long post but....I guess when I wrote the original post I was looking for something that could create a step change in the adoption rate of SNA by business. Education and coaching of business decision makers is clearly critical and I'm sure all practitioners on this list and others do this at every opportunity. But the fact remains that the pace of adoption is still frustratingly slow. I note Morten's arguments for keeping the links to the science. I'm not suggesting that clients may not be interested in the underlying science and theories. In fact that is often how we get jobs. My point is that there are not enough of these inquisitive early adopters to get us up the growth curve....as illustrated by the Gartner hype cycle John provided. 

                     

                    As to business case studies ...just a personal reflection....most of you will know of the roundtable that Rob Cross has been running for several years now. Rob has been very successful in engaging mainstream businesses to join this roundtable and collaborate as a 'community' in sharing experiences in applying SNA. Andrew Parker often ran Ucinet tutorials as part of these sessions. The company myself and my business partner used to work for was an enthusiastic member ... and not just because Rob's wife worked there :) We conducted some joint projects (internal and external) and I attended a session in Boston and was particularly impressed by the number and nature of the organisations that had paid to join up. On reflection however, the people at the workshops were early adopters (including us). I don't believe the diffusion is happening fast enough yet, despite the abundance of compelling case studies. Since we left 5 years ago, I doubt that my old company has conducted a single SNA study...though I'd be delighted to be proven wrong. This experience has contributed to my views about complexity of tools. The Roundtable people and many others are often introduced to SNA through Ucinet and Netdraw. These are tools designed for academics, not practitioners. It would have been like starting a six sigma green belt (is that the lowest?) session by demonstrating the intricacies of SAS or SPSS.

                     

                    I note Valdis' post about his performance database, relating patterns with performance. We have done something similar having been doing SNA projects for over a decade now .... though I'm sure our data base is smaller than Valdis'...he's been doing it for much longer! Maybe this is part of the answer. I know the APQC and other benchmarking organisations have benefited from this. Perhaps we need to share our designs and come up with one that we can leverage more broadly.

                     

                    Finally to Matts comments, who knows my position on this as seeing BPM as the 'enemy'.... or more accurately BPM proponents who push the approach beyond its capabilities. I'd like to think that the social software movement has helped our case here as business decision-makers struggle with their  @home and @work personas. There was a time when PCs were only an @home tool! But I am fearful that entrained 'top down' thinking as noted by Joshua Letourneau's comment on the Linkedin SNAP group; which I abstract here: 

                     

                    ' In North America, 99% of those working for the larger Mgmt Consulting firms graduate from the typical white-box, top-20 Business School (which is largely driven by socio-economics here in the U.S.) These programs emphasize elements (formal, hierarchical, linear processes and procedures, causality, etc.) that are largely debunked by SNA'

                     

                    Maybe this is back to John Maloney's comment about getting to the students and MBA programmes.....let's hope its no that hard!

                     

                     

                    Laurence Lock Lee PhD
                    Partner, Optimice Pty Ltd
                    Ph: +61 (0)407001628
                    www.optimice.com.au
                    Blog: http://governanceandnetworks.blogspot.com/
                     
                    Learn to network, then network to learn

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