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What I’m Reading: February 2018 – Disruption, Innovation, Information Conflict, Comedy, Sweat Equity, and Influencers


Here are a few articles I found interesting in February 2018:

The New Digital Mandate: Cultivate Dissatisfaction – MIT Sloan Management Review, 2/16/2018

A good article on organizational behavior and how to rightly change organizations. While the wrong kind of dissatisfaction can be toxic, a willingness to tinker for the better can make companies far more efficient, effective, and profitable. The difficult part, and what the author fails to mention, is the need for leadership to be open to ideas from the bottom. Ideas from the top are only half the battle. And managers need to support ideas without the fear of anyone losing their job.

Organizing for the age of urgency – McKinsey Quarterly, January 2018

Another organizational article. This article covers how organizations need to be fast moving and constantly evaluating – “combine urgency with agility, capability, and identity”. While there are too many business cliches in this article: “hockey stick forecasts”, “be like improvisational jazz”, and a horrible reference to US military operations in Iraq as a model, overall, this is a very good article for assessing business operations. While it might not be applicable to every company, there is something to be learned here for every organization. It is smart to reevaluate operations regularly. This article (and the links in it) is great food for thought.

America’s Military Is Choking on Old Technology – Foreign Policy, 1/29/2018

War moves at the speed of business, if not faster. Unfortunately, the US Department of Defense is the world’s largest business. It’s objectives move faster than the organization’s overall ability to achieve them. This article discusses this dilemma from the technological standpoint. In the DoD, new technology means upsetting status quo, which means new training, new knowledge, and new perspectives. New technology requires an approval process that is slow and unwieldy, especially when it means the military can’t just buy a product without putting it up for bid and waiting for competitors. It is a process that inevitably falls behind opponents.

Strategic Innovation and Great Power Competition – Strategy Bridge, 1/31/2018

Another article discussing the US Military’s need to innovate quickly. This article details several of the advancements Chinese defense forces have made and Chinese “all of society” approach to blending civilian and government research. According to the author, the US needs to do more or create new avenues of competitive advantage.

The New Global Competitive Model Based on Cyber and Asymmetrical Hybrid Warfare – Small Wars Journal, 2/5/2018

More doomsday than the previous articles, this article details China’s efforts to replace the United States as the premier world power. It describes both China’s plan and asymmetric hybrid actions towards diminishing US global abilities. I still think the author needs to not call the actions “war” and stick with “conflict”. And while the author’s suggestions are good, and preach a “whole of nation” effort to regain US superiority, they are highly unlikely and unrealistic.

Information Warfare: The Meme is the Embryo of the Narrative Illusion – Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, 2/7/2018

A preview to a book written by James Scott, Sr. Fellow, Center for Cyber Influence Operations Studies (CCIOS), this article discusses the book and the important issues of digital information warfare. According to the author, organizations that can understand their target audience using technology and big data and distill their message into a simple, highly contagious, viral meme will run the issue. I might have to check out the book.

He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse – Buzzfeed, 2/12/2018

A scary article about the future of information. According to the subject of the article, tech engineer Aviv Ovadya, information overload is a real and frightening thing. Barriers to entry for media will completely disappear and no one will know who or what to trust. There will be no more agreed upon facts. Conflict on the media platform will be complete chaos. The article also details some of the ways technology and artificial intelligence will be used on the information platform.

Hezbollah Goes on the Cyber Offensive with Iran’s Help – The Cipher Brief, 1/30/2018

Interesting expert opinions on the actions of Hezbollah and their actions against Israel. According to several experts, Hezbollah has increased their cyber actions, both in hacking and in information conflict. This is where the battles of the 21st Century are moving. Also of note is the help Hezbollah is receiving from Iran.

What Can We Learn from Counterterrorism and National Security Efforts? –, 1/12/2018

Four sensible points that companies should understand about cyber threats that the Intelligence Community understands about global terrorism. In both cases, the enemies doesn’t play by rules.

8 Nation-State Hacking Groups to Watch in 2018 – Dark Reading, 2/9/2018 looks at eight of the biggest nation-state hacking groups in the world. The usual suspects are here: groups from Russia, North Korea, and Eastern Europe. The article also discusses what each group is known for. Excellent primer describing who’s who among the bad guys.

We’ve Lost the Opening Info Battle against Russia; Let’s Not Lose the War –, 2/24/2018

A description of the information battle America finds itself in with Russia and China. This is a good summary, but nothing new. Unfortunately, the author’s suggestions will probably not happen (a reduction of partisan polarization) before 2020, which means our election information cycle will look similar to 2016.

To See The Future Of Social Media Manipulation In Politics, Look To Mexico – 2/15/2018

According to Fast Company, bots and other social media manipulation tools have been active in Mexico since 2012. Five years later, there is little progress in slowing down the information war. Once again, big data company Cambridge Analytica is mentioned. There are few places where they are not gathering or utilizing data.

Cross Domain Concerns: Defeating a Hybrid State’s Grand Strategy – The Strategy Bridge, 2/22/2018

A buzzword heavy article, but true to its point. The way to defeat opponents who are not constrained by rules is to bring everything to bear and have it all working in conjunction. Unfortunately, cross-domain cooperation is the exception, not the rule in the military. That would be like marketing not talking to finance who is not talking to the CEO who is not talking to operations. In the military as well as in business, having all the parts together is the best way to win.

Why Your Brain Clings To False Beliefs (Even When It Knows Better) – Fast Company, 2/11/2018

Interesting article on why the brain is stubborn. Jumping to conclusions is an evolutionary trait that needs to be reprogrammed. Humans instinctively jump to conclusions without doing due diligence to find the truth. This of course, leads into the era of information manipulation I discussed in earlier links. This is why opening people’s minds to different ideas is so difficult.

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality – Bain and Company, 2/7/2018

The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. Isn’t that how it always goes? But with the growth of artificial intelligence and increased automation, the gap between the haves and the have nots will be greater. The Bain consulting group estimates over 20% of low-income jobs could be gone by 2020. That is a huge problem for the US economy. Bain also hypothesizes that governments may need to set in more to provide social safety nets. This is the intro to a long report that is well worth reading.

How Facebook is Killing Comedy – Splitsider, 2/6/2018

A very interesting post on a comedy news website. In this article, comedy writer Matt Klinman blames Facebook’s algorithm for stifling comedy and reducing the ability for comedy websites to make money. According to Klinman, because Facebook is the overarching platform for media, comedy creators have to post their work on Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook does not pay creators for views on Facebook. As a matter of fact, creators have to pay to get their post seen by more eyes. So Facebook is making money on popular posts not the creators. Klinman rips Facebook, calling it a “great de-contextualizer”, flattens views and people (and I would argue subject matter expertise), and is the creator of a watered down, boring internet.

This is a really good read and should get you mad.

Understanding the True Value of Time: !llmind Gives Producers a Lesson in “Sweat Equity” – DJ, 1/31/2018

Music producer !llmind discusses the importance of time in a career. Time is limited, so !llmind recommends using to something you enjoy. If that enjoyment is a money making venture, the time will eventually pay off. Time brings confidence, networking opportunities, and production. Without time, you can’t make money. But you need to put the time in to make money.

It’s time to address the elephant in the room: Influencers don’t really influence anything or anyone! – The Engagement Strategy Group – 1/23/2018

This is a very interesting article that counters a lot of what is taught in marketing classes. According to Elinor Cohen, Social Media Influencers don’t carry the power that industry thought they did only a few years ago. The first reason why, of course, is fake followers – it is almost impossible to determine how many real followers a person has. The second reason is that there are so many avenues to publish on, who knows if any one publication will be effective? Cohen concludes that is better to be a “thought leader” than an “influencer”.