Complying and Thriving in a Hyper-Competitive Information Environment: 8/28/20

This webinar extended the aggregation model introduced in the July webinar to a hard case of complying and thriving: New York City since May 2020. Complying and thriving in that kind of information environment is a main challenge of our era. 

By information environment (IE), we mean all of the individuals, organizations and systems that collect information, process it, disseminate it, or act on it. That’s an expansive definition and it obviously includes the cyber environment of information systems and infrastructure. To cope with this environment, we applied a modified  OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop to develop a problem-solving strategy. We added a second Orient phase (“OO-2-DA”) to include future-casting, which is making decisions now to shape aspects of the future. The whole problem solving process characterizes the IE, designs a strategy to achieve goals, shapes aspects of the future relevant to our goals, wargames the strategy in that future, and then transforms practices to get there.  

Given our time constraints here, we applied just the first two steps—characterize and strategize—to the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy in Minneapolis that ignited protests and much more.

The first step, characterizing what’s relevant in the IE, decomposed the complexity of the IE into systems and their components, and analyzed what we we saw.

We analyzed a small sample of five groupings: 

  • groups active on the streets for various purposes—protestors, demonstrators, activists, opportunists, criminals, and community movements
  • extremists and terrorists
  • police and supporters
  • funding sources with causes
  • politicians, administrators, and political parties

Next, we looked for linkages among those clusters, limiting the sample to connections with City Hall.Then we identify five patterns of behavior that at the same time illustrated the diversity of groups’ goals and motives.

The next step recomposed the complexity picture of the IE by adding identity and cohesiveness of the groups.

Overall, a small number of cohesive groups interact with a fleeting array of less unified groups.

Having completed a demo of characterizing the IE, the second half of the webinar designed, combined, and aligned a strategy. We considered how aggregates form in terms of the glue that holds them together (grievances), the propellant that makes them volatile (agitation of grievances), and how the propellant is ignited (violence). Our strategy was prevent violent ignition and neutralize the propellant with activities that do both. 

The strategy hinged on political leadership, intelligence-led and community-engaged policing, sufficient police presence and technology overmatch, and effective rules of engagement. All activities need to support the dual effects of de-escalation and containment, and reducing volatility. We also highlighted technology such as the CrocShield Fractal Armor System as a low profile yet highly effective defense that supports both desired effects. 

We concluded that there is much that we can do to exert leadership and focus strategy on mutually reinforcing effects.