28 January 2017

The Network: 4th Industrial Revolution Strategy...

There is wisdom in continuously sensing and understanding the environment that people are operating in for their daily work or a specific mission.  The culture of an organization will determine why people are focused on the tasks and work they are performing each day; and that is where Operational Risk Management (ORM) begins.

If you are waking up today and know you may not return home alive, how would that change your thoughts about the tasks and environment ahead of you?  What kind of attitude would you have about your ability to improvise, adapt and navigate over the course of your mission that day, to return safe and secure?

Working along side individuals each day that are vital to a "Network" that knows the risk of survival is low, changes you.  The Operational Risks that you will likely encounter, can make you deviate from the primary goal for the mission.  The outcomes that are primary on the minds of each person on the team are the same, until you have to adjust, pivot and adapt on the fly.

This is where the mindset of "Resilience" is born.  The brain learns what is working, and when it encounters a setback, a shock, or a denial of the goal, it quickly responds to the new environment.  You change your tactics to keep moving forward in pursuit of your planed destination.  Resilience and networks have been symbiotic since Genesis.

So where is your environment located today?  Are you waking up in the Hindu Kush or Palo Alto?  Is it going to be sunny in the Sahel or downtown London?  How will you travel today, by foot or in a vehicle that travels fast enough to require a seat belt?  If it requires a seat belt, you are already applying your OP Risk skills to survive the day.

Now pivot your thoughts back to the asymmetric "Network".  You may not be tasked today to travel in a physical environment.  Your mission is to navigate across the globe to a different place, and the map you will use looks like this.  The network you will operate in today, has hundreds of thousands of adversaries.  Most will not be human, they are nodes and machines that will sense your presence and try to deter your assigned mission.

The resilience of the "Network" is not about just the other people on your team.  It is about the intelligence of your abilities to navigate, adapt and survive the minute, hour or day of your mission.  Whether the resilience is in the physical realm or inside the zeros and ones of a virtual cyberspace, there are some similarities to achieve survival.

Whether you have an OODA Loop or "Board Principles of Resilience" does not matter as long as you understand the culture and the environment you will be operating in that day.  Then use it.  Operational Risk Management works when you apply the right tools, tactics and procedures to the time, place and circumstances.  Consider these principles from Future of Digital Economy and Society System Initiative  | World Economic Forum:
  • Responsibility for Resilience
  • Command of the Subject
  • Accountable Officer
  • Integration of Resilience
  • Risk Appetite
  • Risk Assessment & Reporting
  • Resilience Plans
  • Community
  • Review
  • Effectiveness
The "Network," is the new playing field.  The new market.  The new adversary.  The new strategic thinking necessary, to make it through the day safely and securely.  To come home to your loved ones.  Use Operational Risk Management (ORM), in order to thrive and survive:
Against the background of these developments, this year’s Global Risks Report explores five gravity centres that will shape global risks. First, continued slow growth combined with high debt and demographic change creates an environment that favours financial crises and growing inequality. At the same time, pervasive corruption, short-termism and unequal distribution of the benefits of growth suggest that the capitalist economic model may not be delivering for people. The transition towards a more multipolar world order is putting global cooperation under strain. At the same time, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is fundamentally transforming societies, economies, and ways of doing business. Last but not least, as people seek to reassert identities that have been blurred by globalization, decision-making is increasingly influenced by emotions. World Economic Forum - Global Risks Report 2017

21 January 2017

Asymmetric Advantage: Dawn Across Arlington...

One only has to stand behind the "Tomb of the Unknowns" and gaze across the national mall past the Washington Monument to begin to feel the magnitude of the challenges ahead.  As the wind swirls around the grave markers and the sound of sirens and jets are distantly present, you can feel an emotional wave of inspiration.

Today in Washington, D.C., the dawn of a new government administration is waking up and the rest of the world is waiting.  How will the asymmetric problems we face be solved faster?  Why does the decision to use "Solution X" make sense over "Solution Y", to address our nations adaptive Operational Risks?

Why would a U.S. citizen feel inspired this day and from this vantage point in Arlington?  It is because the future will bring new conflicts that are different than years past.  It will bring new opportunities for us to excel.  Every decade that wars occur, there are far less warfighters actually put into harms way.  The number of casualties slows.  Why?

The reason is that the kinetic types of wars are using new inventions and technologies to save lives.  Whether it is MWRAP's or tourniquets built into uniforms, or sophisticated "Geospatial Intelligence", the goal is to keep our warfighters safe and alive.

Now also in parallel, the conflicts are being waged 24 x 7 x 365 in another growing operational domain, where the IO Analyst is navigating electronic networks and complex lines of software code.  Information Operations are full of new challenges and substantial learning curves in order to gain the advantage.

Welcome to the #Virtual Caliphate:
Decades of border disputes, violent conflict, and shifting refugee populations have left millions of Muslims without a clear national identity. ISIL’s virtual caliphate offers them citizenship free from terrestrial constraints, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
How the United States responds to this threat of a growing set of virtually-inspired terrorists, who carry out their physical acts in the homeland, remains a substantial problem-set.  What else is in store for our Homeland?

"The U.S. is considered a high-priority intelligence target by many foreign intelligence entities. While traditionally the threat has been to our political, military, and diplomatic interests at home and abroad, the loss of sensitive economic information and technology is a growing threat to our national security. In recent years, economic espionage conducted by foreign intelligence entities, corrupt insiders, and corporate competitors has exploited vulnerabilities in cyberspace that may weaken our economic advantage. Cyber espionage has not replaced traditional espionage as a way to steal secrets, but the ability to focus technology on lesser protected information is a significant and growing threat." DNI.gov Domestic Approach to National Intelligence

The rules will be changing soon.  The tools will be too powerful and the threats too great, for the military to have their hands tied or their legal authorities limited.  The next generation of domestic cyber warfighters will now go into action, side-by-side from CyberCom, Homeland Security, FBI, CIA and a new coalition of advanced private sector contractors.  They will work across the Homeland from SCIFs in every state, with a new enhanced mission and a new unified command.

How will this save lives and give all of our warfighters what they need?

As the billion dollar budgets within the Pentagon shift their focus to platforms such as DIUx, or IARPA, innovative answers will be more apparent.  The growing solutions pipeline will become the basis for rapid deployment to our Operators.  The new Corps of men and women raising their hands from classrooms across the Homeland, will become exponential...they will serve in new roles and in new ways.

The future is bright and the changing of the guard at the "Tomb of the Unknowns", will soon see fewer ceremonies to bury our heroes or even hang another star on a wall in Langley...

15 January 2017

Inspired Outcomes: A Culture of Why...

Why does your organization exist?  Most people answer this question with the kinds of products or services provided.  This is "What you do".  Some people talk about how they provide the service or how the product works.  This is "How you do it".  This does not answer the question.

Most organizations have it backwards.  What >> How >> Why.  Now think, Why >> How >> What.

Why your organization exists, is paramount to understanding the real purpose and DNA of your culture.  It is vital to the people who show up every day, the core reason they perform their role or contribute to the measurable outcomes of the team.  True Operational Risk Management (ORM) professionals discover the "Why" at the beginning.  Without the truth behind "The Why", nothing after it, has enough context.

When you begin the journey to build a better product, or invent a new process you better know the answer to "Why".  Discovering this first, will provide the inspiration, the creativity and the fortitude to get you and your team out of bed the next day, to do it all over again.  Without the "Why", we as humans lose sight of our destined purpose.

Over seven years ago, Simon Sinek was advocating for "Why" in his book and on Ted Talks.  A few years later, he was helping the Air Force hone new leadership skills in it's pilots:
"I told the guys, it's not enough any more to be ace of the base," said Col. Richard "Tex" Coe, commandant of the United States Air Force Weapons School. "We have to bring others with us.

Coe believes the school's new leadership curriculum will translate to success in the global war on terrorism, particularly in the fight in Afghanistan.

"What we're going to be doing is purposely developing these innovative and creative leaders that will go out there and face problems," Coe said.

"We don't even know our problems yet, and we'll be able to put our pieces together and use resources and other people around us to get the mission accomplished."

Coe, a master navigator with more than 3,000 flight hours including 460 combat hours, left Afghanistan in 2002. Today, the country "is a new and different place" he said.

"It's a completely different problem than it was back then. It's ever changing, and we're preparing them for that ever-changing problem."
"What we believe" is not the same as "Why We Exist".  It is different and it could mean the difference to owners, employees, partners and external customers or clients.  Here is just one example from Palantir:
We’re Here

"We believe in augmenting human intelligence, not replacing it.

With good data and the right technology, people and institutions today can still solve hard problems and change the world for the better."
How could you make this even more compelling?  More inspiring and motivating, so that you want to jump out of bed each day at the sound of the morning alarm.

Behind every process, product and service there are humans who must see, feel and smell the "Why".  If and when they do, now they are ready to endure the journey, the quest and the challenges ahead.  They are there for a purpose they can internalize and outcomes that they can pursue vigorously, each day.

Discover the "Why" from your clients and customers, if you have not already done so.  Understand deeply the reason why they are doing business with you.  You may be surprised to know that your clients are paying you more than your competitors, for the same product or service.  You may soon find out the real value of "Trust."

Making the "Decision to Trust" one product or service over another, can not be under estimated.  Yet so many organizations and companies fail to find the truth about "Why" in their ecosystems of followers.  Is it the location, the price, the ease of use, the color, the feel, the endurance, the speed, the intelligence?

Once you have discovered the truth on "Why", you must know "How".  Then the "What" will follow, with the name of your product or brand.  Isn't it interesting that when you are attending a networking or convention event, that when you meet someone new, they may ask:  "What do you do?"

What if you answered the question like this.  "I work with "X" and we exist to "Y".  The cause and reason for your organizations existence transcends everything.  It provides the foundation for why this person is going to trust you and your organization.  Now if they would only start the conversation with:  "Why does your organization exist?"

Once you have a solid foundation for "Why", then you must know "The How" and then "The What".  Here is another example:
SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
Or how about:

"SpaceX exists to enable people to live on other planets.  We manufacture rockets and launch them so that our customers can supply other spacecraft or travel to other destinations beyond Earth."

Now think about your organization.  Take a deep look at your culture.  What is the fuel that will propel it into the future to achieve extraordinary outcomes?  Exponential results...

08 January 2017

Symbiosis: Information Advantage in a Virtual Battlespace...

Symbiosis with machines to gain information advantage, is a challenging problem-set.  The magnitude of Operational Risks will now soar, as we pivot towards machines that are performing more as autonomous colleagues.  Pre-programmed instructions has been the standard for our software-based systems, until now.

The integration challenges ahead on the leading edge of "Information Advantage", produces a spectrum of new-born problems to solve.  User interfaces that are speech driven or by a new Virtual Reality (VR) capability, is just the dawn of a new era.  DARPA (BAA-16-51) is already headed this direction:
The symbiosis portfolio develops technologies to enable machines to understand speech and extract information contained in diverse media, to learn, to reason and apply knowledge gained through experience, and to respond intelligently to new and unforeseen events. Application areas in which machines will prove invaluable as partners include: cyberspace operations, where highly-scripted, distributed cyber attacks have a speed, complexity, and scale that overwhelms human cyber defenders; intelligence analysis, to which machines can bring super-human objectivity; and command and control, where workloads, timelines and stress can exhaust human operators.
"Technological surprise" is a complex area of research.  The problems to be solved are tremendous.  Information advantage in virtual environments has been developing for years.  15 plus years before the U.S. Department of Defense utilized the concept of a public "Bug Bounty" style program for vulnerability discovery on public-facing systems, Bug Bounties were used by the private sector.

Automated Testing tools and the ability to run software scripts that can simulate a human behind the keyboard, were invented more than a decade ago.  It is time for the next generation of information advantage to be addressed; combined with a strategic and policy focused initiative.


Principal Investigators understand the stakes within the cyber domains.  The myriad of adversaries have advanced far beyond current capabilities and are even utilizing our own infrastructure against us.  Their abilities to adapt and change direction, cloak their presence and attack from new locations is finally being understood in the Board Room.

Yet what is the business problem that is being addressed?  Who are going to be the primary beneficiaries of any new invention or solution?  More importantly, why will they continue to use it?

In between commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and military unique systems is the zone we shall be navigating to in the next few years.  Military adapted commercial technology is the place for tremendous opportunity and new innovation.

How will we get there?

Since there is no viable rapid acquisition structure in place, it means that new leadership and resources will be required to deploy these solutions.  The entrants to this area will prosper, if they are able to mobilize strategically and with speed.

Information advantage is a lofty goal and worth the ambition to achieve it soon.  The speed to attain even a slight edge over the adversary is a whole different strategy when you are talking about information operations.  Different than traditional air or sea domains, the speed and ability to scale, deploy and execute with COTS is exponential.

How long did it take start to finish, for physical solutions such as "PackBot", "TALON", "Sand Flea", "BigDog", "Cheetah", "Perdix", "RiSE", "BEAR" and "WASP" to make it onto the operational arena?  The ARGUS-IS camera on a "Global Hawk" UAS generates 1 million terabytes of data daily with a "persistent stare", to track all ground movements in a medium size city from 60,000 ft.  How long did the procurement take to get this capability into the physical domain?

The speed in the current information warfare domain is exponential using COTS and IoT.  Using existing Virtual Machines on AWS-like infrastructure, combined with IP-addressable CCTV cameras to launch a DDoS on a DNS provider in minutes or hours is just one example. The "Mirai botnet" is just another tool (weapon) in the information advantage virtual battlespace.

So what?

Symbiosis with machines to gain information advantage, is a challenging problem-set.  Think about the time it takes to design, procure and deploy a robot solution on the physical field of play.  Now think about the same, in the almost limitless virtual domains across the globe.  The challenges ahead are formidable and the really hard problems to be solved, remain endless...