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What I am reading – January 2018: Organizational Innovation, Strategy, Media, Information War, and Cyber Security


Sorry this is way late, I was traveling internationally. But here are a bunch of articles I found interesting in January 2018:

The boss knows everything: Why some local cultures make organization more innovative –, 12/10/2017

Let’s start with a great article on organizational behavior. This article discusses how employees in some companies wait for management to dictate changes. However, in an environment where companies need to innovate or die, this means the employee – the person actually doing the job – are not part of the innovation process. Countries with greater power distance from employee to manager face bigger risks of falling behind than companies where management and employees are working together to innovate and succeed.

Compare this article with this 2016 article on how employees are the best sources for strategy improvements.

What the Military Can Teach Organizations About Agility – MIT Sloan Management Review, 11/14/2017

This was one of my least favorite articles of the month. But I am still listing it here for the reason why. There is a fetish in business about how the military operates and it is really unhealthy. Yes, there are small teams in the military – specifically Special Forces – that are autonomous and use improvisation and creativity to solve huge problems. But they are not the norm. The norm is the world’s largest organization bogged down by administration, logistical challenges, and a very restrictive budget. And the restrictive budget is not a good thing. It means there is rarely the up-to-date technology or equipment to solve problems easier.

We need more articles on what the military can learn from business. There is a reason Special Forces are working with start-up tech companies. But these articles should extend to marketing and strategy.

Here’s How to Stop Squelching New Ideas, Eric Schmidt’s Advisory Board Tells DoD –, 1/17/2018

Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt, chair of the Defense Innovation Board, wrote a list of changes the Department of Defense should employ in order to better innovate. These are very good suggestions, although I am not sure how feasible they are. The article discusses the stifling impact bureaucracy has on innovation. Too often good ideas in the field are crushed by those who try to make them standard. The recommendations suggest that the DoD create overarching positions specified to look for innovation as well as create incubators and flexibility in development.

I don’t think the task will be impossible, but it will be very difficult. Especially in an organization that silos power and encourages kingdom building. If the organizational dynamic isn’t addressed simultaneously, “Innovation” will become another buzzword that sounds good but does little.

Blue Hair in the Grey Zone – War On The, 1/10/2018

Speaking of Department of Defense organizational culture, this article explores the need for the DoD to embrace nontraditional personnel and creativity in order to advance in tech-based combat, to include cyber warfare. Many in the tech fields are not even considering DoD work because of the environment, bureaucracy, and lack of pay. Mandating certain behaviors and lifestyles will restrict the type of talents working in the DoD. There are many studies linking diversity to innovation that should also be considered in DoD personnel decision making circles.

Searching for Strategy…and Finding it in the Most Likely Place – The Strategy Bridge, 1/16/2018

This article made me laugh. It is a good article, but to start with “Strategy is really not that hard” and then right over 2,500 words on the subject in one article is a bit off the deep end. But Professor Spencer B. Meredith III does have a few good points in his long screed. I agree that strategy needs to balance all your conflict points – in the case of national strategy this includes DIME (Diplomatic, Information, Military, and Economic). He also makes a good point about the major points of US strategy

1) keeping NATO as a functioning tool of US statecraft, 2) ensuring favorable relations in the region to foster US economic growth, and 3) supporting partner democratic countries in their defense against rising Russian attempts to undermine all of the above

When debating strategy, find the vision, then tell exactly how to get there and propose results and measurements. It’s really not that hard.

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life – Rand Institute, 1/22/2018

This is the intro page to an document that I will be reading very soon. The very smart people at the Rand Corporation explored what they call “Truth Decay”: the systematic destruction of public discourse due to a complete disbelief in facts and disagreement of common truths. They look at different decades of social change (1890s, 1920s, and 1960s) and how they compare to our current climate of discourse. Lastly, they propose additional avenues of research and solutions how to reestablish truth in public debate.

Definitely a must read.

Facebook is done with quality journalism. Deal with it. –, 1/14/2018

Facebook has never had a good relationship with journalism and news. Unfortunately, people spend more time on Facebook than on news websites. Years ago, Facebook tried to incorporate news into the newsfeed. What happened, unfortunately, was the flattening of credibility. Poorly sourced and poorly written articles were given the same space has highly researched and highly credible sources. This article details Facebook’s relationship with news media and why an announcement to cut ties with journalism was long overdue.

Millennials, New Media and Social Change (Part One) – Confessions of an Acafan, 1/18/2018

Professor Henry Jenkins, expert in Communications and Media, posts an interview he did for an upcoming book. In this interview, Jenkins discusses the relationship Millennials have with digital media. He shuns the term “digital native”, as not all millennials have the same access to technology. But for those who do have access, Jenkins also discusses how tech-savvy millennials are using their platforms to express their ideas and politics.

Part two of the interview is here.

Russia’s Full Spectrum Propaganda – Digital Forensic Lab Blog, 1/23/2018

Interesting look at how Russian media works together – from Tweets to Pintrest to posts on Russian-sponsored news media. Each is used to amplify the other and spread the other’s message. Russia is winning the information conflict with their integrated use of media. This is a perfect example.

Terabit Army: China Squares up on the Battlefield of Information – The Cipher Brief, 1/28/2018

Writer Dean Cheng discusses China’s development in Information Warfare. The Chinese government is increasing initiatives in Information Operations and Information Technology in order to gain advantages in global politics and conflict.

Contrasting China and Russia’s Influence Operations – War on the, 1/16/2018

A very interesting piece comparing and contrasting Russian and Chinese Influence Operations. Using history as evidence, Peter Mattis concludes “the Chinese are human- or relationship-centric while the Russians are operation- or effects-centric”. Mattis also describes how intelligence services play a role in each nation’s influence operations.

“Mind Hacking”: Information Warfare in the Cyber Age – Italian Institute for International Political Studies, 1/11/2018

A very good overview of Russian strategies in information operations, from hacking to spreading disinformaton. This article details attacks via cyberspace and also proposes solutions such as education, coherence to values, strengthing goverance, and international partnership.

I also love this summary of what the world faces today:

the use of cyberspace for projecting a State’s power is endangering a free and open Internet, is fuelling the proliferation of aggressive capabilities through reverse-engineering of cyber weapons, is providing motivation and resources for hackers and organized crime engaged in identifying zero-days vulnerabilities and in developing cyber weapons, and is hijacking trust both among common Internet users and within public-private partnerships

Netizen Report: Can Brazil’s Government Use Google to Manipulate Public Opinion? – Global Voices, 1/25/2018

Included in this blog post on internet freedom is the idea that the Government of Brazil may be trying to influence policy by getting pro-policy articles to the top of Google searches. There are also links to articles on Iranian internet oppression and US NSA operations.

OSINT is a State of Mind – SECjuice, 1/14/2018

A good article on open source intelligence – how to do it, steps to prove your work, and processes to follow. OSINT is underappreciated as a whole, but those who do it well and share their work are highly appreciated. And as more information becomes public knowledge, finding it and incorporating it is the real challenge. OSINT is far more than reading media.

Rethinking Cybersecurity – Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1/8/2018

Another policy paper on what needs to be done to secure cyberspace. Hopefully we have as many people doing the changing as we have people writing about what changes need to happen.

How the Pentagon Should Deter Cyber Attacks – The Strategy Bridge, 1/10/2018

Written by members of the Rand Corporation, this article outlines how the Department of Defense should handle attacks in cyberspace. Among their suggestions are clarify definitions, prioritize risks, treat deterrence as a form of influence, define norms, and be specific in actions and reactions.

Some Basic Rules for Securing Your IoT Stuff – Krebs on Security, 1/18/2018

Lastly, some helpful tips to secure personal devices as more insecure devices are incorporated into people’s personal spaces. The smarter you can get on securing your own stuff, the less likely you will be attacked/hacked/have your identity stolen/have your devices used maliciously. Personal security is the easiest way to protect yourself.