Following up on Learning Organizations

Two posts that broaden and inform the discussion:

From one of my my co-authors,  Adam Elkus at GroupIntel – “Can Strategy Be Crowdsourced?”:

…Confined to the tactical level, emergent groups often melt away once the tactical action they have formed to accomplish is over. While the anti-Scientology hacker collective Anonymous succeeded in bleeding the Church of Scientology (CoS), they failed to accomplish their stated task of destroying the organization. Anonymous took down some CoS websites, showed up on the streets wearing funny masks, and attracted some media attention. But without any mechanism for exploiting their tactical success, they could not sustain their momentum, making them a purely ephemeral phenomenon. Without the benefit of strategy, all Anonymous could do was cause disorder-but such petty nihilism has rarely accomplished anything of real importance.

Anonymous was kind of cyber-militia, not a band of cyber-soldiers. Galled by what they saw as the CoS’ heavy-handed censorship, they attacked it for a while before retiring back to their usual activities on the 4Chan IRC channel. Americans, ornery and independent by nature, tend to valorize militias and distrust professional militaries. But we often forget that our own militias lacked the means or motivation to battle the British for extended periods of time during the Revolution. Washington found it difficult to make them battle during harvest season, and could not force them to fight far from their homes and families. He required the likes of Baron Von Steuben to mold them into a disciplined and professional fighting force through the usage of repetitive drills and training. Our tech-hype about crowdsourcing is another form of militia worship that may be admirable and egalitarian in spirit but dangerous when it is used to overestimate the strategic abilities of emergent foes.

Read the rest here.

I enjoyed Adam’s post, partly because I rarely get to read something that links Edward Bernays, Jamais Casico and John Searle. I will quibble with Adam in that “crowdsourcing” phenomena or open systems that acquire a “community”aspect with recognizably distinct cultural norms are usually dominated by a “natural aristocracy” among the membership – a cadre of “influencers” who make qualitative contributions frequently and disproportionately and have individual and collective “auctoritas” to police the larger mass than contribute occasionally. There’s a “feedback loop” where certain members of “the crowd” add complex thinking for collective evaluation, modification and ratification. Linux is the original example as is Wikipedia, where senior and elusive”Wikipedians” carry great weight compared to say, me, logging on and editing away. An open mil-related community “crowdsourcing” strategy might do more than a decent job; it would be interesting to run a war game at Quantico with a group of U.S. military operations specialists vs. the membership of the Small Wars Council.

The second post is by “ josephfouche“* at The Committee of Public Safety blog – “The Tactical Loop“:

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