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QuotesBack to Top

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.
— Herbert Simon

The nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors
will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.
— Thucydides

Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.
— Goya

When a task cannot be partitioned because of sequential constraints, the application of more effort has no effect on the schedule. The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.
— Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., The Mythical Man-Month

Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals could believe them.
— George Orwell

Intelligence is like a four-wheel drive. It allows you to get stuck in more remote places.
— Garrison Keillor

Do one thing every day that scares you.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

My ability to keep cool in a crisis is based entirely on not knowing all the facts.
— Garrison Keillor

The one common experience of all humanity is the challenge of problems.
— R. Buckminster Fuller

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
— Albert Einstein

The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgment should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge. It a person masters the fundamentals of his subject and has learned to think and work independently, he will surely find his way and besides will better be able to adapt himself to progress and changes than the person whose training principally consists in the acquiring of detailed knowledge.
— Albert Einstein, in Ideas and Opinions, p. 62

It is not enough to teach a man a speciality. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he – with his specialized knowledge – more closely resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper relationship to the individual fellow-men and to the community…Overemphasis on the competitive system and premature specialization on the ground of immediate usefulness kill the spirit on which all cultural life depends, specialized knowledge included. It is also vital to a valuable education that independent critical thinking be developed in the young human being, a development that is greatly jeopardized by overburdening him with too much and with too varied subjects. Overburdening necessarily leads to superficiality.
— Albert Einstein, in Ideas and Opinions, p. 66-67

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
— Samuel Johnson

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
— Samuel Johnson

Iron rusts from disuse,
stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen;
so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.
— Leonardo da Vinci

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.
— Henry Ford

In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.
— Louis Pasteur

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
— T. S. Eliot

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.
...
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay “Self-Reliance”




General ResearchBack to Top

Overall/General ResourcesBack to Top Strategic ThinkingBack to Top
    Not everything that can be counted counts,
    and not everything that counts can be counted.
    — Albert Einstein

    Nine-tenths of tactics are certain and taught in the books;
    but, the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool.
    This is the test of generals.
    Success can only be ensured by instinct sharpened by thought.
    At the crisis, it is as natural as a reflex.
    — T. E. Lawrence, in The Science of Guerilla Warfare

    The nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors
    will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.
    — Thucydides

  • See also critical thinking

  • See also decision making

  • See also strategic art

  • See also military theory page

  • See also strategic communication page at the Cyberspace & Information Operations Study Center

  • See also DoD and service leadership competency models at Strategic Leadership Studies for competencies to be addressed by military education

  • See also the strategic corporal and the three-block war regarding the need for strategic thinking at all levels in today's and tomorrow's conflicts
    • The lines separating the levels of war, and distinguishing combatant from "non-combatant," will blur, and adversaries, confounded by our "conventional" superiority, will resort to asymmetrical means to redress the imbalance. Further complicating the situation will be the ubiquitous media whose presence will mean that all future conflicts will be acted out before an international audience. [Krulak]

  • The perils of bad strategy, by Rumelt, in the McKinsey Quarterly, (2011, 1)
    • Another sign of bad strategy is fuzzy strategic objectives. One form this problem can take is a scrambled mess of things to accomplish—a dog’s dinner of goals. A long list of things to do, often mislabeled as strategies or objectives, is not a strategy. It is just a list of things to do. Such lists usually grow out of planning meetings in which a wide variety of stakeholders suggest things they would like to see accomplished. Rather than focus on a few important items, the group sweeps the whole day’s collection into the strategic plan. Then, in recognition that it is a dog’s dinner, the label “long term” is added, implying that none of these things need be done today.
    • Bad strategy has many roots, but I’ll focus on two here: the inability to choose and template-style planning—filling in the blanks with “vision, mission, values, strategies.”

  • Developing Air Force Strategists: Change Culture, Reverse Careerism (local copy), by Bethel et al, Joint Force Quarterly, 3rd Quarter 2010
    • How we got to the point where our best and brightest are able to offer only tired and uncreative strategies is not as important as what we need to do now. We must develop, nurture, and promote strategic thinkers. We define strategic thinkers as those officers who understand the inherent linkages between the abstract and concrete, between thinking and doing, and who eschew old checklists for new ideas and apply those ideas to potential future situations.
    • The Air Force should seek out those officers who have a balanced brain—those who can not only intuit well and rapidly, but who also understand when it may be necessary to look for theories that can be generalized. Instead, the Service teaches “people, processes, and products” that make up the Air Operations Center at its command and staff college.
    • There is no career path for strategists or strategic thinkers, and indeed there appears to be a trend away from intellectualism.
    • Rather than disdaining intellectualism, senior leaders should be encouraged to read recent scholarship on strategic decisionmaking and ask themselves if they can learn something there. In addition to the long list of histories of command and leadership, Air Force senior leaders should have to read Scott Page’s The Difference, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and Outliers, James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds, and most importantly, Alec Fisher’s The Logic of Real Arguments.
    • The balance between Gladwell and Surowiecki should be lessons that all senior officers learn en route to becoming strategists. Giovanni Gavetti and Jan Rivkin, in How Strategists Really Think, tell us that one of the greatest mistakes leaders make is applying the wrong experiential analogies to the situation at hand. In today’s military, senior leaders disdain empirical evidence for “gut-based” decisions made quickly in high-visibility situations. As Watts mentions, too many of our leaders go on experience and apply lessons from the past to the problem at hand. The current problem, however, is rarely like any they previously faced; thus, the lessons they bring forward are not relevant. Experience is important, but for senior leadership we should seek out those who can adapt to the situation no matter what it is. Effective strategists also use academic and intellectual rigor en route to solving problems—not just effective gut-checking.
    • We mentioned earlier the trend toward relying on experience rather than critical thinking and inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is not hard merely for military officers, but for almost everyone. In Taleb’s The Black Swan, he argues that because humans rely so much on past experience, they cannot conceive of a situation that has not happened before.
    • Inductive reasoning is only one attribute of successful strategists. They must also exhibit:
      • creativity
      • curiosity
      • confidence
      • high intelligence without subject fixation
      • ability to collate and make sense out of massive amounts of data
      • great and diverse intellect
      • thorough knowledge of the means
      • intuitive understanding of the ends.
    • We place creativity at the top because crafting strategies, like war itself, is an art. We posit that educating an officer to be a strategist is for naught if the first four traits are not present.
    • We must demand more of our officers—not in terms of time or energy (most give more than their fair share whether they have it or not), but in terms of how they think.
    • Let us be clear on one point: deductive thinking is required in campaign planning and in airpower theory, especially when it comes to establishing quantifiable metrics and measuring against them. Pressed up against the realities of war, deductive thinkers do a great job killing the enemy, but it is inductive thinkers who master how to discourage enemy forces from wanting to continue to fight. And it is inductive thinkers who are best able to determine how to achieve victory on a variety of battlefields against innumerable conflicts and challenges. The metrics to measure each are very different. One is an empirical count while the other cannot be measured.

  • Growing Strategic Leaders for Future Conflict, by Salmoni et al, Parameters, Spring 2010

  • Schools for Strategy: Teaching Strategy for 21st Century Conflict (local copy), by Gray, SSI, Nov 2009

  • spiffy Research, Writing, and the Mind of the Strategist (local copy), by Foster, in Joint Force Quarterly, Spring 1996
    • Ideas and the ability to generate them seem increasingly likely, in fact, to be more important than weapons, economic potential, diplomatic acumen, or technological advantage in determining who exercises global leadership and enjoys superpower status. Thus it is imperative to develop, nurture, and engage strategic thinkers at all levels—critical, creative, broadgauged visionaries with the intellect to dissect the status quo, grasp the big picture, discern important relationships among events, generate imaginative possibilities for action, and operate easily in the conceptual realm.
    • Almost by definition, strategic thinkers are broadly educated, not narrowly trained. They seek not simply direction but to grapple with the underlying questions of whether, why, and what if.
    • A broad-based education expands—and fuels the self-guided growth of—one’s horizons. It develops the intellect and inculcates the spirit of inquiry for a lifelong pursuit of learning. The measure of education, far from being the level or even the sum of formal schooling, rests more in the degree of open-mindedness and active mental engagement it engenders.

  • spiffy Keeping the Strategic Flame (local copy), by Builder, in Joint Force Quarterly, Winter 1996-97
    • The current demand by the military for welldefined objectives is eloquent evidence of how far our thinking has drifted toward the tactical domain. The insistence on operationally planning based on enemy capabilities, while tactically prudent, is the antithesis of strategic thinking, which should concentrate on enemy vulnerabilities. Although defeating enemy forces may sometimes be necessary to achieve our objectives, it is not always the Nation’s or the military’s best option.

  • Charting the Course for Effective Professional Military Education - 10 Sep 09 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee - local copies of transcripts below
    • Lieutenant General Dave Barno, USA (ret.) - Director, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies
      • Given the notable shortcomings many ascribe to U.S. strategic thinking over the last decade -- some deeply involving senior military leaders -- we must seriously question whether our program of PME today is on the right track. In my estimation, we are drifting off course, and if uncorrected, our marked advantage in the intellectual capital of warfare, in the face of an increasingly uncertain future, is at risk.
      • Thus, for almost all senior officers -- all our generals and admirals -- the final fifteen to twenty years of their career is almost entirely largely lacking in extended developmental experiences. This fact becomes more troubling when correlated with the reality that decision-making and complexity at the senior levels -- especially regarding strategic and grand strategic issues -- is immensely more complex and uncertain than the relatively simpler worlds of tactics and operations. So-called "wicked problems" unresponsive to set-piece solutions abound.
    • Dr. Williamson Murray - Senior Fellow, Institute for Defense Analyses
      • The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suggests that the United States can no longer afford an approach resting on the comfortable assumption that commanders can acquire skills on the fly to deal with the new and different complexities that each conflict will bring in its wake. As General James Mattis suggested in an email to a professor at National War College, “We have been fighting on this planet for 5,000 years and we should take advantage of that experience. ‘Winging it’ and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of competence in our profession.” The depressing story of our flawed efforts to handle a burgeoning insurgency during the post-invasion period in Iraq suggests that too many senior officers had never studied the lessons of Vietnam, much less the experiences of the British in their efforts to defeat the 1920 insurgency in Iraq.
    • Dr. John Allen Williams - President, Inter-University Seminar on the Armed Forces and Society
      • Given the complexity of the future threat environment and the importance of the issues involved – military threats and the proper relation between the military and the society it serves –the Skelton Report’s call for the development of strategists and the encouragement of strategic thinking is increasingly relevant. One should note that these are not quite the same thing. Only a small number of officers will develop into strategists of the first rank, but these are so important that the PME system must do as much as it can to encourage them to develop their talents to the maximum degree possible.

  • Developing Strategic Leaders for the 21st Century (local copy), by McCausland, SSI, Feb 2008

  • Strategy and the Strategic Way of Thinking (local copy), commentary by Owens, Naval War College Review, Autumn 2007

  • Educating for Strategic Thinking in the SOF Community: Considerations and a Proposal (local copy), by Yarger, JSOU Report 07-2, Jan 2007

  • Prospects for Strategic Thinking and Innovation: a Survey of War College Students (local copy), by Snow, Army War College, 15 Mar 2006
    • The survey reveals room for improvement in current levels of dialogue, critical, innovative and strategic thinking. Unless changed, the current time and resource constraints will likely frustrate deep thinkers, stifle the creative and hinder the process of organizational learning and adaptation. The goal of achieving advantage through transformational processes is at risk.

  • Learning from the Stones: a Go Approach to Mastering China's Strategic Concept, Shi (local copy), by Lai, Strategic Studies Institute, May 2004
    • The author introduces a new approach to learning about the different ways of strategic thinking and interaction in Chinese culture. It is through learning the Chinese board game called go. This game is a living reflection of Chinese philosophy, culture, strategic thinking, warfare, military tactics, and diplomatic bargaining. The author also sheds light on the remarkable connection between go and the strategic concepts in Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
    • A modest claim is made in this writing that a little knowledge of go will take U.S. leaders a long way in understanding the essence of the Chinese way of war and diplomacy.

  • Strategic Thinking chapter from Strategic Leadership and Decision Making, from National Defense University
    • A leader can develop more effective strategic thinking skills. This is done by exploiting any opportunity to better understand yourself, how you think about complex problems, and how to go about making decisions. This understanding of yourself is critical, since this information that forms the foundation for developing your strategic thinking capabilities necessary in the strategic environment. The more you understand yourself, the more control you have over both the process, and the products you produce.
    • Virtually all of you will be required to serve in strategic environments. This means there will be many opportunities for you to function as a strategic thinker or advisor. You must, therefore, continue to develop a new and broader set of thinking skills. The SLDM course, and the overall ICAF experience have been designed to help you understand and develop effective strategic thinking skills to solve the complex, fast changing, unstructured problems you will soon encounter.

  • Attack by Stratagem, from The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
    • Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
    • Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Disruptive ThinkingBack to Top
  • Disruptive Thinking and how the iPad changed Close Air Support in Afghanistan, by Christman, for Small Wars Journal, 15 May 2012
    • uses an example of an Army captain giving his Cobra helicopter a moving GPS map function, using an iPad
    • "I would argue the Marine Corps is going to need more of these types of Marines as we enter the next 10-15 years of fiscal austerity. As is often quoted, “we’re out of money, its time to think”. We as Marines, especially the Staff NCOs and company grade officers, need to do better at taking responsibility for our own organization. The following are some ideas of how Disruptive Thinkers can be more effective. [ed. - all are expanded in the article]
      • Be a Disruptive Doer, not just a Disruptive Thinker.
      • Be ready for a bureaucratic knife fight.
      • Don’t forget that the Marine Corps is a warfighting institution, not a think tank.
      • Sometimes you can do more good outside of the military.
    • "With that being said, some responsibility does lie on leadership. We do a very poor job at leveraging our best minds and our most talented leaders. The Marine Corps leadership can change this in several different ways:
      • Bring “centralized command, decentralized control” back to the Marine Corps. Innovation is often a bottom up process, where those closest to the fight have the best solutions. Giving subordinate commanders flexibility to make these decisions will allow the most creative junior leaders to develop innovative solutions to existing problems.
      • Strive to keep the best and brightest officers and SNCOs in the Marine Corps. ... If you want effective Colonels and Generals you need to keep effective Lieutenants and Captains.

  • The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers, by Kohlmann, for Small Wars Journal, 5 Apr 2012

  • Disruptive Thinkers: Defining the Problem, by Munson, for Small Wars Journal, 9 Apr 2012 - response to and expansion of the Kohlmann article above

  • Disruptive Thinkers (and the military) posts at Small Wars Journal

  • Identifying Disruptive Technologies Facing the United States in the Next 20 Years (local copy), by Mitchell, CGSC thesis, 2009

Crowdsourcing and OutliersBack to Top
  • see also The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki

  • Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
    • Matt Ridley argues that, through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, "ideas having sex with each other."

  • Riley Crane: Crowdsource win - 17 minute video - a Pop Tech Talk
    • Riley Crane, a postdoctoral fellow at the MIT Media Lab, found out about the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge four days before it started (find ten balloons placed in ten different locations around the country). Four days, eight hours, and 52 minutes later his team had won the competition. Watch him talk about how they did it and the challenges they encountered in the process.
    • He also talks about other uses of the techniques - including rescues in Haiti - and about how our communication paradigms are broken and how they need to change.

  • Intelligence agencies turn to crowdsourcing, by Weinberger, for BBC CODE RED, 10 Oct 2012

  • Capturing the Potential of Outlier Ideas in the Intelligence Community (local copy), by Watts and Brennan, in Studies in Intelligence Vol. 55, No. 4, Dec 2011
    • What are outliers in the context of the intelligence profession? Outliers are data and hypotheses that analysts may too quickly dismiss. They may be the imaginative, even prescient analyses policymakers cannot bring themselves to believe. Intelligence analysts generally possess healthy doses of skepticism to help them avoid the pitfalls of hubris and self-delusion, but, sadly, this is insufficient, for the outliers that ultimately prove to be the seeds of surprise are outlandish, unthinkable, and wholly anomalous.

  • Building a Wise Crowd (local copy), based on James Surowiecki's bestseller The Wisdom of Crowds, from "Ask the Academy" at NASA Academy, 24 Feb 2006 - showing how a group of people's diverse answers to a question, when put together, can be better than the expert's - in some cases, not all
    • Surowiecki identifies four characteristics of wise crowds:
      • The crowd must be diverse, which allows the individual members to bring different pieces of relevant information to the table.
      • It needs to be decentralized so that no individual member is dictating what the answer should be.
      • It needs a mechanism for distilling the group’s opinion into a collective verdict.
      • The individual crowd members have to be independent, so they remain true to their own information and perspective while not worrying about what the other members of the group think of them.
    • Surowiecki explains: "The paradox of the wisdom of crowds is that the best group decisions come from lots of independent individual decisions."

  • How to pioneer a successful crowd-sourcing site (local copy), by McKeel, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 1 Nov 2011

  • Wikiwar – Where Campaign Design Unite With The Wisdom Of Crowds (local copy), by Demers, USMC Command and Staff College – School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW), 2008
    • We live in an interconnected world where information is becoming the currency of the realm. According to UC Berkeley School of Information we produce more than 550,000 Terabytes of data each year and our current adversaries are leveraging this wealth of information into concrete operational advantages better then we can. By shying away from traditional operational security principles and moving to what could be described as open source warfare, they can adapt more quickly to a given situation. A striking example of open source can be found in the Iraqi insurgency. It took only 12 months to reach (and surpass) capabilities for the deployment of the full spectrum of IEDs in Iraq that took over 30 years for the IRA to achieve under more rigorous operational security (OPSEC) conditions in Ulster.
    • This paper will propose that a concept of open source warfare will be far more effective in supporting a campaign design methodology during complex emergencies as opposed to the traditional compartmentalized approach favoured in today’s military planning process. First of all, we will look where this concept can be employed and why it would work. Having identified where open source can be useful for the military, we will turn our attention to the need of changing our understanding of OPSEC. Finally, we will propose an open source planning model which will allow us to better leverage information during campaign design and execution.

  • Universal Access to and Use of Information (local copy), from FEMA-sponsored Strategic Foresight Initiative, May 2011
    • In the last decade, technological advances in both computer hardware and software have greatly enhanced people?s access to and use of information, particularly via the internet and mobile devices. Based on this capability and access, the following trends and drivers have the potential to impact emergency management activities:
      • Internet access expansion
      • People as both producers and consumers of information
      • Spontaneous reporting
      • Crowdsourcing
      • Increased emergency management use of the internet and social media

  • Hunting for Foxes: Capturing the Potential of Outlier Ideas in the Intelligence Community (local copy), by Watts and Brennan, in CIA's Studies in Intelligence, Dec 2011
    • Outliers are data and hypotheses that analysts may too quickly dismiss. They may be the imaginative, even prescient analyses policymakers cannot bring themselves to believe. Intelligence analysts generally possess healthy doses of skepticism to help them avoid the pitfalls of hubris and self-delusion, but, sadly, this is insufficient, for the outliers that ultimately prove to be the seeds of surprise are outlandish, unthinkable, and wholly anomalous.
    • Our interest in outliers was born out of Internet-based surveying that Clint Watts undertook on 2 January 2011. The purpose of that survey was to test the ability of crowds to make accurate hypotheses about future counterterrorism issues in the event of Usama Bin Laden’s death.

  • Would you like to play a game? Solving real problems using game mechanics. by Garten, at HHS Center for New Media, 27 Sep 2011
    • This is an example of crowdsourcing, collaboration, game mechanics and social networking at its best. Instead of doing each of these activities in isolation, these elements were brought together as a powerful tool to solve a real world problem. “The researchers noted that much attention has been given to the possibilities of crowd-sourcing and game playing in scientific discovery. Their results indicate the potential for integrating online video games into real-world science.”
    • In cases where we have the basics of social/new media covered, let’s keep advancing and level up to thinking about game mechanics as another tool in our problem solving toolbox. Not only can we apply the idea of gaming to our citizen engagement strategies on the communications level, but perhaps we can pave the way in helping others see the value in applying game mechanics to their own areas of responsibility.

  • Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos Photosynth, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Blaise Aguera y Arcas leads a dazzling demo of Photosynth, software that could transform the way we look at digital images. Using still photos culled from the Web, Photosynth builds breathtaking dreamscapes and lets us navigate them."

  • Wikipedia list of crowdsourcing projects

CollaborationBack to Top
  • .Collaboration - Affect/Possibility: Ken Blanchard at TEDxSanDiego 2012, Published on Dec 27, 2012
    • Stating that "no one of us is as smart as all of us," Ken Blanchard teaches us three aspects of successful collaboration:
        1. if you meet someone who wants to accomplish something, and you want to accomplish something, the experience is meant to be dynamic;
        2. rely on the different skills and experience people bring to the table;
        3. "essence" and "form" are the two characteristics of a solid collaboration.

  • Clay Shirky on institutions vs. collaboration - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "In this prescient 2005 talk, Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning."

  • Howard Rheingold on collaboration - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action -- and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group."

  • Team/Collaborative Critical Thinking

  • Collaboration and Self Assessment: How to Combine 360 Assessments to Increase Self-Understanding (local copy), by Psotka et al, ARI Report, Mar 2007

  • Why Wikis at NASA? (local copy), by Verville et al, in NASA's ASK magazine, issue 44, Fall 2011
    • Wikis are used across NASA for collaboration
    • Some of the critical practices and principles for successful wikis are listed below.
      • Wikis work best when they solve a problem that is evident to most of a group.
      • Wiki use needs to replace an existing work process, not add to work.
      • Wikis need advocates and advertising.
      • Seeding the wiki with valuable content helps jump-start the process; with a blank page, no one knows where to start.
      • Gradual growth is fine, and starting small helps a core group of users become accustomed to the wiki (think pilot study).
      • A wiki that serves a niche need is okay; it does not need to be all things to all people.

Developing AdaptivenessBack to Top

  • Achieving Adaptability through Inquiry Based Learning (local copy), by Duffy and Raymer, ARI report, Apr 2010
    • This report presents inquiry based learning (IBL) as an instructional strategy addressing the Army’s need for training flexible and adaptive leaders. Distinguishing tenets of IBL are characterized in contrast to the Army’s current direct instruction strategy. Elements of IBL, including characterization of the orienting problem, learner support by the instructor, and assessment of learner outcomes are outlined. Considerations for developing an IBL curriculum are addressed, and details of an example of an Army IBL course of instruction are provided.

  • Adaptive Thinking Training For Tactical Leaders (local copy), by Lussier and Shadrick, ARI paper presented at the RTO HFM Symposium, Oct 2003
    • This paper reports a series of research efforts embodied in the U.S. Army’s Think Like a Commander training program. The work is interesting because it seeks to train a cognitive behavior – thinking – using methods that have traditionally been applied to training more observable and measurable behaviors, e.g., marksmanship and gunnery, sports performance. In short, it does not greatly respect a traditional distinction between such things as physical movements, perceptions, and cognitions when it comes to training, rather treats these all as behaviors that are amenable to the same training methods and principles. Deliberate practice techniques were applied to develop exercises to train the task of adaptive thinking in tactical situations.

  • Developing Leaders to Adapt and Dominate for the Army of Today and Tomorrow (local copy), by Davis and Martin, Military Review, Sep-Oct 2012
    • Change in the College comes in how we accomplish our educational mission, as well as within the content of our courses. This change is an active, evolutionary educational process that drives the institution to reexamine itself on a frequent basis. The operational environment is dramatically different than in previous times. Additionally, there has been a tremendous growth in understanding of adult learning and professional education, and CGSC is leveraging this new science. We are educating a different generation of emerging leaders who bring incredible experience to the classroom to share. Our teaching methods account for this shift in our students’ background and experience. The most obvious difference over the previous 30 years is that more than 90 percent of our Army students have recent combat experience and nearly 70 percent have multiple combat tours. Based on this background, and the ever-changing operating environment that is our world, it is easy to see that change remains a constant in the process of leader development and education for the Army.

Creativity and InnovationBack to Top
    Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world.
    Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves.
    All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
    — George Bernhard Shaw

    If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.
    — Yogi Berra

    A good hockey player plays where the puck is.
    A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
    — Wayne Gretzky

    Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.
    — Theodore Levitt

    The only thing harder than getting a new idea into the military is getting an old one out.
    — Liddell Hart

    Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.
    — T. S. Eliot

    The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions.
    — James Russel Lowell

    As the births of living creatures, at first, are ill-shapen: so are all Innovations, which are the births of time.
    — Francis Bacon

    He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.
    — Francis Bacon

    In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
    — Eric Hoffer

    The world owes all of its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.
    — Nathaniel Hawthorne

    I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
    — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

    In the age of information sciences, the most valuable asset is knowledge, which is a creation of human imagination and creativity. We were among the last to comprehend this truth and we will be paying for this oversight for many years to come.
    — Mikhail Gorbachev, 1990

    Innovation by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires 'courageous patience'.
    — Warren Bennis

  • See John Boyd and the OODA loop - especially the articles and briefings by Osinga

  • See also intuition

  • See also Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) process

  • See also Innovation Adoption-Diffusion on Transformation of War page

  • See also Innovation Adoption-Diffusion on CSAT Future Studies page

  • Global Innovation Index (GII) - with ranking of countries

  • Joint Chiefs Chairman Urges Military Innovation

  • Eric Berlow and Sean Gourley: Mapping ideas worth spreading - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "What do 24,000 ideas look like? Ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley apply algorithms to the entire archive of TEDx Talks, taking us on a stimulating visual tour to show how ideas connect globally."

  • “Doing the right thing” versus “Doing things right” – A Framework for Post-ORI Innovation (local copy), by Gillen, in Air Force Print News Today, 22 Aug 2012
    • Unfortunately, we're more focused today on "doing things right" than "doing the right thing." This has become apparent as we prepare for the upcoming inspection. "Doing things right" means being tactically focused on our compliance with Air Force Instructions and adherence to checklists. "Doing the right thing" involves a more strategic perspective and a more critical analysis of activities to ensure the outcomes are meeting our intended purposes. Through a process of strategic innovation we can transition from "doing things right" to "doing the right thing," a shift which will ultimately result in organizational efficiencies and increased job satisfaction.

  • spiffy Keith Yamashita: The 3 Habits of Great Creative Teams, a 99u video
    • "When the your team is faced with adversity does it stand strong and act boldly or does it crumble under pressure? Based on his work with over 1000 teams, Keith Yamashita shares his insights about great collaborative environments including: have an awareness beyond your day-to-day, respect the unique talents of your team members, and actively cultivate meaningful one-on-one relationships."

  • Creative Thinking for Senior Leaders: An essay on creative thinking for military professionals (local copy), by Allen, U.S. Army War College, May 2012
  • Creative Thinking for Individuals and Teams: An essay on creative thinking for military professionals, by Allen, U.S. Army War College, 2009
    • quick overview (13 pages) of theories, theorists, processes, attributes, and more
  • Developing Creative and Critical Thinkers (local copy), by Allen and Gerras, in Military Review, Nov-Dec 2009

  • “Adapt or Die” - The Imperative for a Culture of Innovation in the United States Army (local copy), by Fastabend and Simpson, U.S. Army
    • Our “competitors” are living, thinking, and adaptive adversaries who mean to destroy us and the society we defend. Our choice is quite clear: “Adapt or Die.” Failure does not mean Chapter 11 and an updated resume. Failure means death and destruction for ourselves, our comrades, and all that we cherish.

  • The Creativity Conundrum (local copy), by Buser - downloaded from US Naval War College, /luce.nt/, "A Journal of National Security Studies," 2012
    • The ability to be creative, or think creatively, has long been recognized as a core component to successful leadership at all levels of command. Especially at the strategic level, the ability to think creatively and adapt to changing circumstances is often the difference between life and death, victory and defeat. ... And despite general agreement to this fact by most senior leaders, the military on the whole is ill-equipped for producing leaders who are adaptable, flexible, and who can think creatively. Rather, its personnel makeup, focus on operations, and sheer bureaucracy all combine to create and reward leaders who are risk-averse, conformists, and good at maintaining the status quo.

  • How Switching Tasks Maximizes Creative Thinking, by Jarrett, at 99U

  • spiffy Top 10 Ways to Create Innovation in the Workplace (local copy), downloaded from the 3rd Marine Logistics Group

  • Center of Innovation (CoI), US Air Force Academy
    • "The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate funded Center of Innovation (CoI) at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) was established in 2008 and has become a leader in championing game-changing innovations for the US Government (USG) by leveraging unique public-private partnerships."
    • "The CoI has become the 'sandbox' for government agencies, private industry giants, and academia to perform collaborative research, share expertise, and shape technologies within the private sector to fit government needs"
    • DHS pamphlet talking about the CoI (local copy)

  • NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation
    • "Established in 2011, the CoECI serves to advance the use of open innovation methods across the federal government, in particular, the use of prizes and challenge. The CoECI provides guidance to other federal agencies and NASA centers on implementing open innovation initiatives from problem definition, to incentive design, to post- submission evaluation of solutions."

  • Office of Innovation - Office of Naval Research

  • Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC)

  • spiffy Will It Work Here? A Decisionmaker’s Guide to Adopting Innovations (local copy), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Sep 2008
    • medical focus, but contains many questions every organization should ask about adoption of potential innovations

  • spiffy Military Innovation in the Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Lessons for America (local copy), by Taylor, NPS thesis, June 2011
    • A military‘s ability to adapt its organization, doctrine, and technology strategy to meet the threats of its time influences the state‘s capacity to maintain great power status. This thesis uses a historical overview of military innovation among great powers throughout history to draw lessons for the U.S. military today.
    • ... Finally, and most importantly, this study finds it essential to foster a climate and institutional culture receptive to innovation.
    • A true meritocracy would allow leaders to promote the most promising soldiers and officers despite their inability to meet any time-in-service requirements. The "year-group" promotion system codifies a rigid bureaucratic structure that ensures slow change and little innovation.

  • spiffy How PowerPoint Stifles Understanding, Creativity, and Innovation Within Your Organization, by Zweibelson, in Small Wars Journal, 4 Sep 2012 - includes eight recommendations at the end, to "restore the briefer as a critical thinker"
    • PowerPoint provides a useful vehicle for sharing and developing concepts among military professionals in a variety of venues. Unfortunately, the U.S. military tends to lose track of the supportive context for PowerPoint and instead shackles organizations to institutional processes and rigid ‘group-think.’ We tend to burden our military professionals with an exhausting and high-maintenance requirement to churn out repetitive and non-explanatory slide decks for nearly every conceivable information requirement. Rarely do we conduct a meeting without the ever-present bright projection of PowerPoint upon a screen.
    • When you attend a briefing and the majority of slides and material attempt to reduce, measure, categorize, or describe something, we are often merely admiring the problem.
    • Instead of thinking about why something is occurring, we are usually required to answer precise information that satisfies a descriptive (WHAT-centric) procedure instead of a critical line of inquiry. Many military professionals refer to this as “feeding the beast” in PowerPoint-centric organizations, where we openly acknowledge that our own hierarchy often demands volumes of often meaningless or irrelevant information for illusionary pretexts. If descriptive thinking blinds your organization to critical and creative thinking, then PowerPoint is the drug of choice for continuing the reductionist and highly tacticized mentality across an organization that fears uncertainty.
    • Additionally, a recent trend of cramming four slides onto one “quad chart” slide is another work-around that compresses a larger slide show into fewer yet more cluttered slides and supports the ‘quantity over quality’ tension. This recent staff technique defeats the purpose of a quadrant chart that uses two separate tensions in an overlapping geometric structure to demonstrate patterns and explore complex relationships. ‘Quad charts’ are not interrelated if you apply one simple test. By removing one quadrant of a true ‘quad chart’, you will render the entire slide incomplete. Each quadrant in a quad chart should systemically relate to the other quadrants in terms of context. If you are only removing one component while the three remaining quadrants maintain their coherence, your staff has merely shoved ten pounds of dirt into a five pound bag for you, by condensing four slides into one. This reduces total slide numbers, but does little to improve organizational learning.
    • Many military organizations use ‘read-ahead’ packets that provide an advanced copy of the PowerPoint briefing slides in advance of the briefing. In theory, this implies an alternate route for information sharing that, when combined with a briefing, could function in tandem. In practice, this requires two commitments that are rarely met. First, all attendees must endeavor to actually read the ‘read-ahead’ packet. This prepares an audience to enter a briefing cognizant of the topics, context, and prepared to offer relevant discourse to drive emergent thought. Secondly, the briefer must resist using any slides in the ‘read-ahead’ except for ancillary or expository reasons during the brief. Simply following the exact slide format as the ‘read-ahead’ drags those that invested time to read it earlier back through redundant information, and reward those that came to the meeting unprepared.

  • Innovating the Future: From Ideas to Adoption, by Denning, in The Futurist, Jan-Feb 2012 - "Futurists and innovators can teach each other lessons to help their ideas succeed." - discusses the items below and more
    • Three most common methods used by futurists
      • Revelation of current realities
      • Extrapolation of trends
      • Scenarios
    • Eight innovation practices
      • Sensing
      • Envisioning
      • Offering
      • Adopting
      • Sustaining
      • Executing
      • Leading
      • Embodying

  • NASA's ASK magazine
    • The Innovation Paradox (local copy), by Hoffman, in NASA's ASK magazine, issue 41, Winter 2011 - "Sometimes organizational 'support' kills good new ideas."
      • Many organizations live and die by good new ideas. The challenge they face is to cultivate good ideas by giving innovators just the right blend of freedom and support. One simple approach that is not taken often enough is to let the innovators themselves decide how the organization can help them develop their ideas. A manager asking, “What do you need from me?” has a good chance of finding the sweet spot between no support (“Do what you want as long as I don’t know about it”) and idea-killing interference.

    • Expecting the Unexpected (local copy), by Frasqueri-Molina, in NASA's ASK magazine, issue 43, Summer 2011 - creating a mitigation plan to deal with unexpected risks
      • The author developed a risk-mitigation plan to reestablish order from chaos.
        1. Remain calm.
        2. Halt the entire project or just the affected work momentarily and let everyone take a break.
        3. Immediately gather the resolution team, which consists of the project manager and any of the people who can offer solutions; meet privately.
        4. Assess risk impact.
        5. Brainstorm solutions.
        6. Choose a solution.
        7. Obtain project sponsor approval.
        8. Communicate the solution to the entire team, resume project, resolve risk.

    • Why Wikis at NASA? (local copy), by Verville et al, in NASA's ASK magazine, issue 44, Fall 2011
      • Wikis are used across NASA for collaboration
      • Some of the critical practices and principles for successful wikis are listed below.
        • Wikis work best when they solve a problem that is evident to most of a group.
        • Wiki use needs to replace an existing work process, not add to work.
        • Wikis need advocates and advertising.
        • Seeding the wiki with valuable content helps jump-start the process; with a blank page, no one knows where to start.
        • Gradual growth is fine, and starting small helps a core group of users become accustomed to the wiki (think pilot study).
        • A wiki that serves a niche need is okay; it does not need to be all things to all people.

  • Defense Science Board (DSB) - check reports section for reports like the following

  • Innovation Versus Adaptability: Seizing the Initiative Through Creative Thinking Versus Reacting to the Enemy (local copy), by Grothe, SAMS paper, 2009
    • Leadership must be committed to learning, underwrite experimentation, and create an environment that generates creative thought and innovation. Doctrine must incorporate more aspects of innovation, creative and critical thinking and innovative leadership. The Army’s training constructs produce adaptive leaders, but must start to assess innovation as well, in order to generate this within the force as well. The most critical area the Army must focus change in is within Professional Military Education for field grade officers.

  • Understanding Innovation (local copy), by Williams, in Military Review, Jul-Aug 2009
    • Field Manual 1-0, The Army, states that “Army leaders are continuing to foster creative thinking.” They are “challenging inflexible ways of thinking, removing impediments to institutional innovation, and underwriting the risks associated with bold change.”
    • Perhaps this statement is true, but given the contemporary use of the word “innovation,” it is also meaningless. Claiming to be innovative carries about as much weight as declaring a love for puppies; it’s easy to say and unpopular to challenge. When words represent some indistinct idea, they are susceptible to reinvention or distortion with potentially significant unintended consequences.

  • Innovation Starvation, by Stephenson, in World Policy Journal, Fall 2011
    • Still, I worry that our inability to match the achievements of the 1960s space program might be symptomatic of a general failure of our society to get big things done.
    • Innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. The vast and radical innovations of the mid-20th century took place in a world that, in retrospect, looks insanely dangerous and unstable.
    • Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.

  • How We Think: Thinking Critically and Creatively and How Military Professionals Can Do it Better, by McConnell et al, in Small Wars Journal, 16 Sep 2011
    • This essay will summarize how cognitive theorists have described critical and creative thinking in general, and how some military practitioners have applied them. In doing so, this essay will propose principles of critical and creative thinking applicable to the military profession to provide a common vocabulary that describes the type of thinking we do. To expand and improve critical and creative thinking, military professionals need a common vocabulary that accurately describes the very thinking we are to expand and improve on.

  • spiffy Connecting the Dots of Innovation - video series at Big Think, by Jeff DeGraff - excellent lists of rules of thumb and conclusions about innovation

  • spiffy Sir Ken Robinson
    • Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?, a TED.com video, 2006 - EXCELLENT 20 minutes
      • Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
    • Changing Education Paradigms, video animation of Sir Ken Robinson's key concepts over time - EXCELLENT 12 minutes
    • Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!, a TED.com video, 2010 follow-up to the 2006 talk - EXCELLENT 20 minutes
      • In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish.
    • Sir Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley , a TED.com video, 2013, from the TED TV special on education
      • Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
      • "There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure."
        • "The first is this, that human beings are naturally different and diverse."
          • Education under No Child Left Behind is based on not diversity but conformity. What schools are encouraged to do is to find out what kids can do across a very narrow spectrum of achievement.
        • "The second principle that drives human life flourishing is curiosity."
          • So in place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance. Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity.
        • "And the third principle is this: that human life is inherently creative."
          • We all create our own lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and what one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity. Instead, what we have is a culture of standardization.

  • spiffy Seth Godin
    • Seth Godin: Quieting the Lizard Brain, a 99u video
      • "Bestselling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin outlines a common creative affliction: sabotaging our projects just before we show them to the world. Godin targets our "lizard brain" as the source of these primal doubts, and implores us to "thrash at the beginning" of projects so that we can ship on time and on budget."
      • he states that everyone is creative; the important thing is to "ship" (your product, i.e., do something with your idea)
    • Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones"

  • other TED.com videos - most are 6-15 minutes
    • Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
      • Matt Ridley argues that, through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, "ideas having sex with each other."
    • Erik Brynjolfsson: The key to growth? Race with the machines - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "As machines take on more jobs, many find themselves out of work or with raises indefinitely postponed. Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynjolfsson -- it’s simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy. A riveting case for why big innovations are ahead of us … if we think of computers as our teammates. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon."
    • Robert Gordon: The death of innovation, the end of growth - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "The US economy has been expanding wildly for two centuries. Are we witnessing the end of growth? Economist Robert Gordon lays out 4 reasons US growth may be slowing, detailing factors like epidemic debt and growing inequality, which could move the US into a period of stasis we can't innovate our way out of. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Erik Brynjolfsson."
    • Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk."
    • TEDxBerkeley - Carl Bass - The New Rules of Innovation
      • has five trends he believes are driving innovation
    • David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Is your school or workplace divided into "creatives" versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create... (From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman and David Rockwell.)"
    • Adam Savage: How simple ideas lead to scientific discoveries - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Adam Savage walks through two spectacular examples of profound scientific discoveries that came from simple, creative methods anyone could have followed -- Eratosthenes' calculation of the Earth's circumference around 200 BC and Hippolyte Fizeau's measurement of the speed of light in 1849."
    • Regina Dugan: From mach-20 glider to humming bird drone - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" asks Regina Dugan, then director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In this breathtaking talk she describes some of the extraordinary projects -- a robotic hummingbird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, and, well, the internet -- that her agency has created by not worrying that they might fail."
    • Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "People often credit their ideas to individual "Eureka!" moments. But Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the "liquid networks" of London's coffee houses to Charles Darwin's long, slow hunch to today's high-velocity web." - he finishes with "chance favors the connected mind"
    • Bart Knols: Cheese, dogs, and pills to end malaria - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "We can use a mosquito's own instincts against her. At TEDxMaastricht speaker Bart Knols demos the imaginative solutions his team is developing to fight malaria -- including limburger cheese and a deadly pill."
    • Edward Tenner: Unintended consequences - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Every new invention changes the world -- in ways both intentional and unexpected. Historian Edward Tenner tells stories that illustrate the under-appreciated gap between our ability to innovate and our ability to foresee the consequences."
    • Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovation - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "In this deceptively casual talk, Charles Leadbeater weaves a tight argument that innovation isn't just for professionals anymore. Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can't."
      • "A researcher at the London think tank Demos, Charles Leadbeater was early to notice the rise of "amateur innovation" -- great ideas from outside the traditional walls, from people who suddenly have the tools to collaborate, innovate and make their expertise known."
    • Clay Shirky on institutions vs. collaboration - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "In this prescient 2005 talk, Clay Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning."
    • Howard Rheingold on collaboration - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Howard Rheingold talks about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action -- and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group."
    • Sunni Brown: Doodlers, unite! - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Studies show that sketching and doodling improve our comprehension -- and our creative thinking. So why do we still feel embarrassed when we're caught doodling in a meeting? Sunni Brown says: Doodlers, unite! She makes the case for unlocking your brain via pad and pen."

  • Jonah Lehrer: The Science of Insight Creation, 40 min. video from Jonah Lehrer - contributing editor of Wired and author of How We Decide
    • "Science is getting harder. Finding notable, new facts is getting harder. So how can we increase our capacity for breakthroughs and insights? What can new disciplines like neuroscience teach us about the innovation process? Jonah Lehrer explores creativity from a scientific perspective and discusses questions such as why we have our best ideas in the shower."
    • talks about the "feeling of knowing" such as the tip of the tongue phenomenon
    • spiffy talks about why brainstorming doesn't work - cites studies showing that allowing criticism leads to 7 times the number of useful ideas 24 hours later after folks have had time to think on their own outside the group
    • we can all imagine more, if only we know how

  • 21st Century Enlightenment, RSAnimate talk by Matthew Taylor - how the idea of a new enlightenment can help us meet the challenges we now face

  • Innovate or Die: Innovation and Technology for Special Operations (local copy), by Spulak, JSOU Report 10-7, Dec 2010

  • spiffy CreatingMinds.org - with principles, techniques, tools, etc.

  • spiffy Creativity Techniques - short descriptions of a whole passel of techniques

  • Roots of Innovation (local copy, 2.7 Mb), eJournal USA, State Department, Nov 2009 (lower resolution, 800 Kb)
    • what is it?
    • which cultures foster it?
    • the global geography of innovation
    • how do complementary skills help?
    • secrets of collaboration
    • 2009 innovation index by country ranking

  • The Art of Design: a Design Methodology (local copy), by Banach, Military Review, Mar-Apr 2009

  • Predicting Military Innovation, by Isaacson et al, RAND, 1999
    • Although military technology is increasingly available and affordable, not all states have the capacity to improve military effectiveness by acquiring hardware. Integrative difficulties — in command structures, doctrine and tactics, training, and support — are common in the developing world, and many states will have to find some level of innovation to overcome such difficulties if they are to use military technologies effectively. This annotated briefing documents a research effort aimed at understanding and predicting how militaries may improve their battlefield effectiveness. The briefing first analyzes military innovation conceptually and then formulates a framework for predicting the likelihood of innovative success. The research synthesizes a broad literature on innovation and provides a useful tool for assessing future military developments.

  • Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California
    • The mission of the Brain and Creativity Institute is to gather new knowledge about the human emotions, decision-making, memory, and communication, from a neurological perspective, and to apply this knowledge to the solution of problems in the biomedical and sociocultural arenas.

  • From Stone to Silicon: A Brief Survey of Innovation, by Husick, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Oct 2008 - top 25 innovations of all time

  • Toward More Innovative Program Management (local copy), by Perino, in Defense Acquisition Review Journal, Feb-Mar 2005 - results of research into the science and psychology of innovation - using MBTI and FourSight assessment tools - includes formula for MBTI Creativity Index

  • Stimulating Innovation (local copy), by Kostoff, Office of Naval Research
  • Science and Technology Innovation (local copy), by Kostoff, Office of Naval Research - compares literature-based and workshop-based approaches for stimulating innovation

  • Communication, Management Benchmark Study (local copy), Dept of Energy -- includes chapters on networking, alliances, organizational culture, and innovation
    • spiffy Innovation, especially organizational, short chapter, covers a lot
    • spiffy Creativity, how to cultivate, short chapter, covers a lot

  • spiffy Leadership: Creativity and Innovation, by William Klemm, from AU-24, GOOD broad coverage of ideas
  • spiffy Innovation and the Military Mind, by Air Vice-Marshal R. A. Mason, from AU-24
  • spiffy The Creative Leader, by Kendall, from AU-24

  • Innovation: from Getting It to Getting It Done (local copy) - briefing by Kao, from OSD Transformation website

  • Leadership and Influence (local copy), self-study course from FEMA

  • Leadership: Strategies for Personal Success - Student Manual (local copy), FEMA
    • Managing Multiple Roles for the Company Officer
    • Creativity
    • Enhancing Your Personal Power Base
    • Ethics
  • Leadership: Strategies for Personal Success - Instructor Guide (local copy), FEMA

  • spiffy Creativity Web, resources for creativity and innovation
    • 10 Kick Starts to Your Creativity
    • Creativity Basics

  • The Serendipity Equations, by Figueiredo and Campos, posted by the Naval Research Lab
  • Searching the Unsearchable: Inducing Serendipitous Insights, by Campos and Figueiredo, posted by the Naval Research Lab

  • Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity, National Academies Press, 2003 - addresses issues such as "what makes people creative" and "how creative people work"

  • The International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College

  • Creativity in the Workplace, links to resources

  • Creativity for Life, living creatively

  • The Innovation Journal
  • American Creativity Association
  • European Association for Creativity and Innovation (EACI)

Emotional IntelligenceBack to Top BrainstormingBack to Top
  • See also Kipling for six places to start - what, why, when, how, where, and who

  • Jonah Lehrer: The Science of Insight Creation, 40 min. video from Jonah Lehrer - contributing editor of Wired and author of How We Decide
    • "Science is getting harder. Finding notable, new facts is getting harder. So how can we increase our capacity for breakthroughs and insights? What can new disciplines like neuroscience teach us about the innovation process? Jonah Lehrer explores creativity from a scientific perspective and discusses questions such as why we have our best ideas in the shower."
    • talks about the "feeling of knowing" such as the tip of the tongue phenomenon
    • spiffy talks about why brainstorming doesn't work - cites studies showing that allowing criticism leads to 7 times the number of useful ideas 24 hours later after folks have had time to think on their own outside the group
    • we can all imagine more, if only we know how

  • Brainstorming Techniques (local copy), from the CDC

  • Rules for Brainstorming (local copy), from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • The Idea Center, with IdeaFisher software, commercial brainstorming tool, with modules for strategic planning, speeches/presentations, conflict resolution, and creative writing
Memory SkillsBack to Top Concept MapsBack to Top Cognitive SkillsBack to Top Cognitive BiasBack to Top
  • See also fallacies in logic

  • Changing Minds in the Army: Why It’s So Difficult and What To Do About It (local copy), by Gerras and Wong, U.S. Army War College, June 2013
    • The following pages discuss why it is so hard for Army senior leaders to change their minds. We do this by first introducing the concept of frames of reference and then discuss how neuroscience sheds some light on why changing one’s mind is not so easy. We then examine the role of organizational variables on this process. Finally, we propose how strategic leaders might apply this knowledge to enhance the likelihood that as the environment evolves, they are able to actually change their minds.
    • In large hierarchical organizations such as the Army, consistency of thought is the norm, and not the exception. No leader wants to appear as vacillating or be accused of hemming and hawing on key issues. Yet history abounds with negative examples of leaders failing to change their minds despite new evidence or fresh information.

  • Thinking in a Foreign Language Makes Decisions More Rational, by Keim, in Wired online journal, Apr 2012
    • A series of experiments on more than 300 people from the U.S. and Korea found that thinking in a second language reduced deep-seated, misleading biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived.
    • The researchers believe a second language provides a useful cognitive distance from automatic processes, promoting analytical thought and reducing unthinking, emotional reaction.

  • Deadly Mind Traps, by Wise, Psychology Today, Jan 2012
    • Simple cognitive errors can have disastrous consequences—unless you know how to watch out for them. [The article has specific examples of each of the errors below.]
      • Redlining. Anytime we plan a mission that requires us to set a safety parameter, there's a risk that in the heat of the moment we'll be tempted to overstep it.
      • The Domino Effect. "In stressful situations, you see a failure in the working memory, which is involved in inhibiting impulses," says Sian Beilock, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago. "People lose the ability to think about the long-term consequences of their actions."
      • Situational Blindness. Full situational awareness requires incorporating outside information into a model of your environment, and using that model to predict how the situation might change. If all you're doing is following the line of the GPS, and it turns out to be wrong, you'll be completely clueless about what to do next.
      • Double or Nothing. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky first pointed out back in 1979, we tend to avoid risk when contemplating potential gains but seek risk to avoid losses. For instance, if you offer people a choice between a certain loss of $1,000 and a 50-50 chance of losing $2,500, the majority will opt for the riskier option, to avoid a definite financial hit.
      • Bending the Map. Such errors of overconfidence are due to a phenomenon psychologists call confirmation bias. "When trying to solve a problem or troubleshoot a problem, we get fixated on a specific option or hypothesis," explains Kring, "and ignore contradictory evidence and other information that could help us make a better decision."

  • Heuristics and Biases in Military Decision Making (local copy), by Williams, in Military Review, Sep-Oct 2010
    • Fortunately, some have come to see the shortcomings of the classical MDMP process. It is illsuited for the analysis of problems exhibiting high volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
    • When combining hindsight bias and retrievability biases, we potentially fail to guard against an event popularized euphemistically as a black swan.
    • Instead of the usual striving toward a “best practices” methodology, which is also full of potential heuristic biases, reflective practice calls for “valuing the processes that challenge assimilative knowledge (i.e. continuous truth seeking) and by embracing the inevitable conflict associated with truth seeking.”

  • Ben Goldacre: Battling bad science, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they're right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry."

  • Criminal Investigation Failures: Avoiding the Pitfalls (Part One) (local copy), by Rossmo, in Law Enforcement Bulletin, Sep 2006 - discusses various types of cognitive bias

  • spiffy Curing Analytic Pathologies: Pathways to Improved Intelligence Analysis (local copy), by Cooper, CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence, Dec 2005
    • The Analytic Pathologies framework yields four insights that are crucial both to accurate diagnosis and to developing effective remedies. First, the framework enables analysts to identify individual analytic impediments and determine their sources. Second, it prompts analysts to detect the systemic pathologies that result from closely-coupled networks and to find the linkages among the individual impediments. Third, it demonstrates that each of these networks, and thus each systemic pathology, usually spans multiple levels within the hierarchy of the Intelligence Community. Fourth, the framework highlights the need to treat both the systemic pathologies and the individual impediments by focusing effective remedial measures on the right target and at the appropriate level.

  • Cognitive Biases listed at Wikipedia

  • spiffy spiffy Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (local copy), by Heuer, 1999, for CIA
    -- very good examination of many elements of critical thinking, with examples (PDF version)
    • Check out Part III - Cognitive Biases

  • Countering Terrorism: Integration of Practice and Theory (local copy), overview of conference at FBI Academy, Feb 2002
    • from Appendix 8: Psychology of Bias
        These investigators found that there is a general bias, based on both innate predispositions and experience, in animals and humans, to give greater weight to negative events or attributes. This is evident in four ways:
          (a) negative potency (negative entities are stronger than the equivalent positive entities),
          (b) steeper negative gradients (the negativity of negative events grows more rapidly with approach to them in space or time than does the positivity of positive events),
          (c) negativity dominance (combinations of negative and positive entities yield evaluations that are more negative than the algebraic sum of individual subjective evaluations would predict), and
          (d) negative differentiation (negative entities are more varied, yield more complex conceptual representations, and engage a wider response repertoire).
        The authors review this taxonomy, with emphasis on negativity dominance, including literary, historical, religious, and cultural sources, as well as the psychological literatures on learning, attention, impression formation, contagion, moral judgment, development, and memory. They suggest that one feature of negative events that make them dominant is that negative entities are more “contagious” than positive entities.

Baloney DetectionBack to Top

Psychological BiasBack to Top

  • See also cognitive bias

  • Tali Sharot: The optimism bias - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side -- and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial."

  • Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness."
    • "Widely regarded as the world's most influential living psychologist, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in Economics for his pioneering work in behavioral economics -- exploring the irrational ways we make decisions about risk."

SensemakingBack to Top

Failure & Being Wrong - Why They WorkBack to Top
    This was the pivotal insight of the Scientific Revolution: that the advancement of knowledge depends on current theories collapsing in the face of new insights and discoveries. In this model of progress, errors do not lead us away from the truth. Instead, they edge us incrementally toward it.
    — Kathryn Schulz, in Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

    Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.
    --- General Stanley McChrystal

    Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating 10 more
    --- George Bernard Shaw

    Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
    --- T. S. Eliot

    The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself. Instead of turning away in denial when you make a mistake, you should become a connoisseur of your own mistakes, turning them over in your mind as if they were works of art, which in a way they are. … The trick is to take advantage of the particular details of the mess you’ve made, so that your next attempt will be informed by it and not just another blind stab in the dark.
    — Daniel Dennett, in Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking

  • Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we're wrong about that? "Wrongologist" Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility."

  • Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems -- and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error. In this sparkling talk from TEDGlobal 2011, he asks us to embrace our randomness and start making better mistakes."

  • Adapt: Why success always starts with failure, video by Tim Harford (book by the same title is on the Air Force Chief of Staff's 2012 Reading List)
    • Tim's Principles of Failure:
        #1 - Be willing to fail ... a lot
        #2 - Fail on a survivable scale
        #3 - Spot a failure and fix it, early

  • Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast-changing world - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "The world is changing much more rapidly than most people realize, says business educator Eddie Obeng -- and creative output cannot keep up. In this spirited talk, he highlights three important changes we should understand for better productivity, and calls for a stronger culture of “smart failure."

  • Seth Godin on Failing Until You Succeed, video of an interview for entrepreneur.com
    • taking risks, challenging status quo, starting a business

Ignorance - a valuable resourceBack to Top
    Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.
    --- James Clerk Maxwell

    In an honest search for knowledge, you quite often have to abide by ignorance for an indefinite period.
    --- Erwin Schroedinger

  • see also failure and being wrong

  • Stuart Firestein: The pursuit of ignorance - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "What does real scientific work look like? As neuroscientist Stuart Firestein jokes: It looks a lot less like the scientific method and a lot more like "farting around ... in the dark." In this witty talk, Firestein gets to the heart of science as it is really practiced and suggests that we should value what we don't know -- or "high-quality ignorance" -- just as much as what we know."

Red Teams, Red Teaming, Red Team ThinkingBack to Top

  • spiffy University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS)
    • The University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS) at Fort Leavenworth is an Army-directed education, research, and training initiative for Army organizations, joint organizations, and other government agencies.
    • Red Teaming is a structured, iterative process, executed by highly trained, educated, and practiced team members that provides commanders an independent capability to fully explore alternatives to plans, operations, concepts, organizations, and capabilities in the context of the operational environment and from our partners’ and adversaries’ perspectives.
    • UFMCS educates Red Team Leaders, Members, and Practitioners; researches best practices for Red Teaming tactics, techniques, and procedures; and develops a reach-back capability to provide commanders and staffs alternative perspectives. Graduates of Leader and Member courses receive an additional skill identifier (ASI).

    • UFMCS Red Team Handbook, Apr 2012 (local copy)

  • Reflections from a Red Team Leader (local copy), by Craig, in Military Review, Mar-Apr 2007

  • Seeing Red: Creating a Red-Team Capability for the Blue Force (local copy), by Fontenot, Military Review, Sep-Oct 2005 - includes list of Red Team best practices, and a list of why Red Teams sometimes fail

Critical ThinkingBack to Top Science and ReasonBack to Top
    You want to have a mind that’s open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains fall out.
    — Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic Magazine

    Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached.
    — Werner Karl Heisenberg

    This was the pivotal insight of the Scientific Revolution: that the advancement of knowledge depends on current theories collapsing in the face of new insights and discoveries. In this model of progress, errors do no lead us away from the truth. Instead they edge us incrementally toward it.
    — Kathryn Schulz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error

  • See also critical thinking

  • spiffy How Science Works (local copy), by Goodstein, in Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition, Federal Judicial Center, 2000 - compares Francis Bacon’s Scientific Method, Karl Popper’s Falsification Theory, Thomas Kuhn’s Paradigm Shifts, and more

  • Steps of the scientific method (from CDC site)
    1. Name the problem or question
    2. Form an educated guess (hypothesis) of the cause of the problem and make predictions based upon the hypothesis
    3. Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment or study (with proper controls)
    4. Check and interpret your results
    5. Report your results to the scientific community

  • Baloney Detection Kit, by Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic Magazine
    • ten questions for assessing believability

  • Scientific Method Man, article in Wired, Sep 2004 - discussing "verifier approach" to problem solution, as used by Gordon Rugg
    • With the verifier approach, Rugg begins by asking experts to draw a mental map of their field. From there, he stitches together many maps to form an atlas of the universe of knowledge on the subject. "You look for an area of overlap that doesn't contain much detail," he says. "If it turns out there's an adjoining area which everyone thinks is someone else's territory, then that's a potential gap."
    • His approach is built on the observation, noted as far back as the 1970s, that experts tend to cut to the chase. In their zeal to get to an answer, they make many little mistakes. (A recent study of work published in Nature and British Medical Journal, for example, found that 11 percent of papers had serious statistical errors.) Experts unknowingly fudge logic to square data with their hypotheses. Or they develop blind spots after years of working in isolation. They lose their ability to take a broader view. If all this is true, he says, think of how much big science is based on flawed intuition.
    • spiffy The verifier method boils down to seven steps:
      • 1) amass knowledge of a discipline through interviews and reading;
      • 2) determine whether critical expertise has yet to be applied in the field;
      • 3) look for bias and mistakenly held assumptions in the research;
      • 4) analyze jargon to uncover differing definitions of key terms;
      • 5) check for classic mistakes using human-error tools;
      • 6) follow the errors as they ripple through underlying assumptions;
      • 7) suggest new avenues for research that emerge from steps one through six.

  • Additional resources on the Verifier Approach

Socratic Method & Asking QuestionsBack to Top Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO21)Back to Top
  • AFSO21 Fact Sheet

  • For more AFSO21 guidance/handbooks/tools/reference/etc. go to the AF Portal and do a search for AFSO21

  • Air Force leaders emphasize AFSO21, by Bergquist, Air University Public Affairs, 28 Sep 2009

  • AFSO21 adopts 8-step problem solving model, by Todd, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander's Action Group, 10 Mar 2008
    • Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21, has adopted a new 8-Step Problem Solving Model to achieve continuous process improvement. This model is based on the OODA Loop and will make it easier for Air Force members to eliminate waste in the workplace.

  • Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century - Playbook, May 2008 - over 300 pages of tools for improvement, including the 8-step problem solving process
    • The eight steps are expanded starting on page B-1 (pdf page 15)
        (1) Clarify and Validate the Problem (Observe)
        (2) Break Down the Problem and Identify Performance Gaps (Observe)
        (3) Set Improvement Targets (Orient)
        (4) Determine Root Causes (Orient)
        (5) Develop Countermeasures (Decide)
        (6) See Countermeasures Through (Act)
        (7) Confirm Results and Process (Act)
        (8) Standardize Successful Processes (Act)

  • USAF 8-Step Problem Solving Process template (AFD-090716-101.pdf) with expanded sub-steps and reference to additional tools

Process and DesignBack to Top
    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
    — Albert Einstein

    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
    — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  • See also art of design on military theory page

  • Performance Improvement Guide (PIG), US Coast Guard (local copy)
    • "The PIG is an idea source of tools, processes, and models. Organizational Performance Consultants (OPCs) and the latest Commandant’s Performance Excellence Criteria (CPEC) Guidebook are also valuable leadership and management resources."

  • Design: Thinking not Process, by McCauley, Small Wars Journal, 15 Oct 2011
    • Senior officers capable of critical and creative thinking are needed more than ever to plan and conduct operations in strategic and operational environments that offer ever-changing uncertainties in increasingly complex conditions. Officers who have a broad body of knowledge gained through experience and extensive study and capable of identifying and evaluating potential military response options within the context of a grand strategy are necessary to achieve the goals of the nation. The development of such officers requires a shift in their extensive focus from the operational and tactical environments to the strategic environment. This is a tremendous undertaking given that by far one spends the majority of one‘s career at those lower levels of war and promotion to senior ranks relies upon excellence in tactical thinking and execution. The aim of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, is to educate strategically minded officers with the ability to view military affairs in the broadest context.
    • This essay posits that integrating design as a process within JOPP is a shortsighted attempt to legislate thinking whereas the more appropriate option would be to develop officers capable of design thinking. To develop senior officers who possess the requisite worldview, critical and creative thinking must underpin the concept of design. Senior officers must understand the role constraints play within design and how the strategic environment is affected. Two accepted approaches in design thinking, analysis/synthesis and conjecture/analysis, could provide senior officers with the unique perspectives necessary for planning at all levels of war. In addition, the unique skills that specific personality types possess that make strategic-thinking and design thinking more inherently natural must be recognized and promoted.
    • Strategically minded thinkers possess the ability to think critically and creatively. To think critically, one needs the ability to break concepts or objects into simpler parts and understand the relationship and organization of the parts relative to the whole. To think creatively, one needs the ability to rearrange the components or ideas into a new whole; in other words, to produce something through imaginative skill. Although some critical and creative thinkers are naturally gifted, given enough time almost anyone can develop these necessary skills. Unfortunately, for the majority of senior military leaders, time is something that is not in vast supply. In fact, given the relatively short duration of time that senior officers spend operating in the strategic environment and the even shorter periods they serve in any one position, it is a natural desire to attempt to develop a checklist or shortcut that will guide these officers through the wicked problems rife within complex environments.

  • "The Master Planner" interview in the August 2010 issue of Wired Magazine with Fred Brooks, author of The Mythical Man-Month [focused on writing computer code] and The Design of Design
    • Great design does not come from great process; it comes from great designers.
    • The critical thing about the design process is to identify your scarcest resource.
    • You have to make sure your whole team understands what scarce resource you're optimizing.
    • You build a quick prototype and get it in front of users to see what they do with it. You will always be surprised.
    • Edwin Land, inventor of the Polaroid camera, once said that his method of design was to start with a vision of what you want and then, one by one, remove the technical obstacles until you have it.
    • ... I once argued that every member of a team should be able to see the code of every other member, but it turns out that encapsulation works much better.

  • DoD resources

  • USMC Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Guidebook (local copy)

  • US Navy Pacific Fleet's Handbook for Basic Process Improvement (BPI) (local copy)

Problem SolvingBack to Top Wicked ProblemsBack to Top
    Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.
    — Laurence J. Peter

  • See also sensemaking

  • Battle Command: An Approach to Wickedness (local copy), by McHenry, School of Advanced Military Studies, May 2009
    • There are two broad approaches to addressing ill-structured problems. First, a problem-focused approach which prioritizes a robust knowledge of the environment from which the problem has emerged. Second, a solution-focused approach that emphasizes the power of proposing solutions as the vehicle to gain understanding of the ill-structured problem. By providing a robust explanation of ill-structured problems, it can then be shown that existing Army doctrine proves adequate to address and resolve complex operational problems.

  • Command at the Edge of Chaos (local copy), by Schwartz, Naval War College, 28 May 2007
    • Traditional hierarchical military staff organizations at the operational level of command remain suited for executing status quo and slowly evolving military operations focused on simple problems. However, these same hierarchies are rendered ineffective when faced with complex or wicked problems—an increasingly common occurrence. Replacing traditional staff structures with flat, self-organizing networks at the operational level of command and war will allow commanders to efficiently synchronize vast resources and more effectively attack rapidly evolving, complex and wicked problems. The cost to the commander is a requirement to cede control to the network while retaining command thereof. This paper looks at the limitations of hierarchical organizations, the advantages of leveraging self-organizing networks in a contemporary military context, and how such networks should be created and commanded. Finally, the paper provides recommendations to operational commanders concerning when and how to employ self-organizing networks within operational level staffs.

  • How to Think: Wicked Problems, Reflections from Dr Jack, Combined Arms Center Blog, 11 Nov 2008
    • "The term “wicked problems” was coined by Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber in 1973 to describe problems in planning that defy analytical methods for solutions"
    • includes Rittle and Webber's 10 criteria for defining a "wicked problem" - with a brief description of each
    • "There are a number of key implications from the concept of “wicked problems.” One issue is that there must be constant framing and reframing of a wicked problem to identify the second and third order effects of a plan or operation. A great plan may be only treating a symptom and not the underlying causes of the problem – potentially making the situation worse. Constant reframing and assessment are necessary to identify this throughout planning and operations."
    • "Another issue with “wicked problems” is that there are frequently multiple problems and issues within a problem set. The tendency to identify a problem as a familiar and simple problem – looking for simple cause and effect relationship – may mask multiple problems and lead to wrong solutions."

  • Wicked problem, entry in Wikipedia - includes descriptions of several strategies to cope witih wicked problems, and includes the following list of characteristics (from Ritchey, referring to Rittel and Webber)
    1. There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem (defining wicked problems is itself a wicked problem).
    2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
    3. Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but better or worse.
    4. There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
    5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a "one-shot operation"; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly.
    6. Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
    7. Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
    8. Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
    9. The existence of a discrepancy representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem's resolution.
    10. The planner has no right to be wrong (planners are liable for the consequences of the actions they generate).

  • Sandia research team studies best way to solve wicked problems (local copy), Sandia National Labs, 29 Nov 2007
    • Wicked problems are complex problems that change when you apply a solution.
    • What’s the best way to solve a wicked problem — by working in a large group sharing ideas via the intranet or as individuals? That’s the question George S. Davidson and his research team at Sandia National Laboratories attempted to resolve this summer.
    • ...
    • “We were amazed at the length and quality of the responses, both from the people working as a group and those working individually,” Dornburg says. “People were very engaged, often writing long, detailed responses.”
    • She adds that what was most interesting is that the quality of ideas from the people responding as individuals was “significantly better across all three quality ratings.”
    • Dornburg says the finding that individuals are more successful than groups in computer-mediated brainstorming suggests a time- and cost-saving potential for companies. Generally, when electronic group brainstorming is compared to face-to-face brainstorming, it is touted as having the advantages of shorter meetings, increased participation by remote team members, better documentation via electronic recording, and cash savings. But the Sandia research suggests that people working to solve problems on their own might involve less time and, thus less expenses, than electronic group brainstorming.
    • While individuals working alone nominally faired better in this study, Davidson says, the research also indicates that group on-line brainstorming can be effective when ideas are needed from large numbers of people.

  • Pakistan’s FATA – A Wicked Problem (local copy), by McMahon, U.S. Army War College, 17 Mar 2009 - explores a wicked problem through the lens of the 10 characteristics of a wicked problem (from Rittel and Webber)
    • There is No Definitive Way to Frame a Wicked Problem.
    • We Cannot Understand a Wicked Problem without Proposing a Solution.
    • Wicked Problems Have No Stopping Rule.
    • Solutions to Wicked Problems are not True-or-False, but Good-or-Bad.
    • There Is No Immediate and No Ultimate Test of a Solution to a Wicked Problem.
    • Every solution to a Wicked Problem is a “One-Shot Operation.”
    • Wicked Problems Do Not Have an Exhaustible Set of Definable Solutions.
    • Every Wicked Problem is Essentially Unique.
    • Every Wicked Problem is a Symptom of Another Problem.
    • The Cause of a Wicked Problem can be Explained in Numerous Ways.

  • What Are Wicked Problems? (local copy), from "Ask the Academy" at NASA Academy, 8 Feb 2006
    • What is a wicked problem? Conklin draws his definition from the work of the late urban planner Horst Rittel, who coined the term over thirty years ago:
      1. You don't understand the problem until you have developed a solution.
      2. Wicked problems have no stopping rule. You simply run out of time or money.
      3. Solutions to wicked problems are not right or wrong. They are "better," "worse," "good enough," or "not good enough."
      4. Every wicked problem is essentially unique and novel.
      5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a "one-shot operation."
      6. Wicked problems have no given alternative solutions.
    • So where does that leave the project manager? The short answer — what Conklin calls "the Holy Grail of effective collaboration" — lies in "creating shared understanding about the problem, and shared commitment to the possible solutions."

  • Defining and Coping with Wicked Problems: the Case of Fort Ord Building Removal (local copy), by Luckey and Schultz, Naval Postgraduate School, Mar 2001

Analysis of Competing HypothesesBack to Top Root Cause AnalysisBack to Top Decision Making and AnalysisBack to Top Paradox of ChoiceBack to Top
  • Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices -- and how we feel about the choices we make. At TEDGlobal, she talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions."

  • Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied."

  • Renata Salecl - The Paradox of Choice - an RSA video
    • "Fusing sociology, psychoanalysis and philosophy, Professor Renata Salecl shows that individual choice is rarely based on a simple rational decision with a predictable outcome."

  • Baba Shiv: Sometimes it's good to give up the driver's seat - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about human nature: That sometimes, having too much choice makes us less happy. This may even be true when it comes to medical treatment. Baba Shiv shares a fascinating study that measures why choice opens the door to doubt, and suggests that ceding control -- especially on life-or-death decisions -- may be the best thing for us."

Assumption-Based PlanningBack to Top Game TheoryBack to Top Uncertainty & RiskBack to Top Complex vs. ComplicatedBack to Top
  • Eric Berlow: Simplifying complexity - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Ecologist Eric Berlow doesn't feel overwhelmed when faced with complex systems. He knows that more information can lead to a better, simpler solution. Illustrating the tips and tricks for breaking down big issues, he distills an overwhelming infographic on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to a few elementary points."

  • Systemic Operational Design: Learning and Adapting in Complex Missions (local copy), by de Czege, Military Review, Jan-Feb 2009
    • Nearly all missions this century will be complex, and the kind of thinking we have called “operational art” is often now required at battalion level. Fundamentally, operational art requires balancing design and planning while remaining open to learning and adapting quickly to change. Design is not a new idea. Command has always entailed responsibility for designing operations while penetrating complexity and framing problems that planners have to solve. Individual ability to learn effectively, adapt rapidly and appropriately, and to solve problems has always been self-evidently valuable to commanders. Yet, collectively, a command’s overall quality of design, learning, and adaptation is what determines results. Military leaders may value individual creativity, critical thinking, continuous learning, and adaptability in their staffs and subordinate commanders, but individual traits do not necessarily add up to collective abilities needed for the best outcomes.

    • Complicated versus complex systems. Merely complicated systems are composed of numerous parts and structures, all logically separable from their environment. An example would be the system for deploying units on a time table for an operation like D-day. Such a schedule could be accurately analyzed in the abstract. Complex systems are made up of dynamic, interactive, and adaptive elements that cannot be separated from interaction with their environments. The significant elements of complex systems are human beings and their relationships. An example would be the action-reaction interplay of the various actors in cooperation and contention on D-day. Analysis could never predict the relationships that were the most important part of the flow of events.

      Where merely complicated systems require mostly deduction and analysis (formal logic of breaking into parts), complexity requires inductive and abductive reasoning for diagnostics and synthesis (the informal logic of making new wholes of parts). Because the elements of complex systems we care most about are human ones, making sense of relationships requires hypothetical synthesis in the form of maps or narratives. Such maps and narratives evolve as informal products that reflect a dimly perceived truth at a moment of understanding in time. To make the best sense of human relationships, interactions, trends, and propensities, military commands have to adopt a habitually skeptical approach to such non-deductive conclusions. Such habituation implies a new intellectual culture that balances design and planning while evincing an appreciation for the dynamic flow of human factors and a bias toward perpetual learning and adapting.

  • Adding to the Toolkit: Three Conceptual Tradeoffs (local copy), by Austin, SAMS paper, AY10
    • This monograph shows how understanding three conceptual tradeoffs of complex versus complicated, complexity at large-scale versus fine-scale, and exploration of potential problems versus exploitation of known solutions can help the military practitioner better learn, anticipate and adapt to difficult problems. It does so by defining the three conceptual tradeoffs and then applying them to Operation Iraqi Freedom for the United States in 2003 and the Israeli incursion into Southern Lebanon by the Israeli Defense Forces in 2006. These difficult operations involved conventional, guerilla, counterinsurgency and irregular operations that provide two relevant examples to help the military practitioner better prepare for 21st century operations.

    • Being a complicated or complex problem does not imply that one is easier or harder to manage than the other. They are just different. Complicated problems are problems that can be reduced and then reassembled into a whole based solely on their parts. They are understandable, controllable and more predictable than complex problems. Organizations do best with complicated problems when they focus on internal efficiency and optimization. Complex problems are not as predictable due to interdependencies and feedback. Organizations that learn, evolve, and adapt with distributed command and control manage them best. Although the ends may be the same, the ways and means to solve complex versus complicated problems are different.

    • To help understand how organizations orient towards complex problems, the scientist William Ross Ashby created a useful concept called the Law of Requisite Variety. It states that a problem can only be controlled if the variety of the controller matches the variety of the situation to be controlled. Put another way, the complexity of a task must be matched by the complexity of a system trying to perform the task effectively.

    • Much as hierarchically controlled organizations are able to focus on efficiency and optimization, the more distributed the command and control of an organization, the less efficient it becomes, despite its potential ability to manage more complexity. Hierarchical and distributed command and control systems therefore involve important tradeoffs, each bringing its own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Complex SystemsBack to Top
  • See Chaos & Complexity on Theory page

  • TED videos
    • Eric Berlow: Simplifying complexity - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Ecologist Eric Berlow doesn't feel overwhelmed when faced with complex systems. He knows that more information can lead to a better, simpler solution. Illustrating the tips and tricks for breaking down big issues, he distills an overwhelming infographic on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to a few elementary points."
    • George Whitesides: Toward a science of simplicity - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Simplicity: We know it when we see it -- but what is it, exactly? In this funny, philosophical talk, George Whitesides chisels out an answer."
    • Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
      • "Economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems -- and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error. In this sparkling talk from TEDGlobal 2011, he asks us to embrace our randomness and start making better mistakes."

  • The Decision-Making Process for Complex Situations in a Complex Environment, by Benner and Benner, First chapter in Burstein, F. and Holsapple, C.W. (Eds). Handbook on Decision Support Systems. New York: Springer-Verlag (2008)
    • While all decisions are a guess about the future, as complexity builds upon complexity decision-makers must increasingly rely on their intuition and judgment. This chapter explores the decision-making process for complex situations in a complex environment (complex adaptive messes) in terms of: laying the groundwork for decision-making, understanding and exploring complex situations, discussing human additive factors, preparing for the decision process and mechanisms for influencing complex situations. Laying the groundwork introduces the concepts of emergence, the butterfly effect, the tipping point, feedback loops and power laws. Mechanisms for influencing complex situations include structural adaptation, boundary management, absorption, optimum complexity, simplification, sense and respond, amplification, and seeding. The authors forward that decision-makers may be able to construct a strategy that guides problem resolution through a sequence of decisions and actions leading toward an acceptable solution.

  • Leading Complex Projects in the DoD (local copy), by Meier, in Defense AT& L, May-June 2013 [AT & L = Acquisition, Technology & Logistics]
    • There is a quote from Albert Einstein that is very relevant to complex projects: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. ... It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” In many cases, it is organizations, agencies, and senior committees that make projects bigger and more complex than they need to be. My hope is that this article will provide leaders of complex projects with the data and the courage to reduce complexity and deliver complex projects within scope, cost, and schedule.

  • Leadership and Systems Thinking (local copy), by Reed, in Defense AT& L, May-June 2006 [AT & L = Acquisition, Technology & Logistics]
    • The Department of Defense is a large and complex social system with many interrelated parts. As with any system of this type, when changes are made to one part, many others are affected in a cascading and often unpredictable manner. Thus, organizational decisions are fraught with second- and third-order effects that result in unintended consequences. “Fire and forget” approaches are rarely sufficient and are sometimes downright harmful.
    • Peter Senge submits, in The Fifth Discipline, that systems thinking provides just the type of discipline and toolset needed to encourage the seeing of “interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static ‘snapshots.’” Senge argues that this shift of mind is necessary to deal with the complexities of dynamic social systems.

  • Complexity, Conflict Resolution, and How the Mind Works, by Jones and Hughes, in Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Summer 2003

  • New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI)

  • MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI)

  • MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)

  • Overcoming the 90% Syndrome: Iteration Management in Concurrent Development Projects, by Sterman

Abductive, Deductive, and Inductive ReasoningBack to Top
  • See critical thinking above

  • See Holmes' comments above

  • Peirce, Pragmatism, and The Right Way of Thinking (local copy), by Campbell, Sandia National Labs, Aug 2011
    • Peirce is known as the founder of the philosophy of pragmatism and these lectures, given near the end of his life, represent his mature thoughts on the philosophy. Peirce’s decomposition of thinking into abduction, deduction, and induction is among the important points in the lectures.

  • Adaptive Peircean Decision Aid Project Summary Assessments (local copy), by Senglaub, Sandia National Laboratories, Dec 2006
    • Abstract - This effort's objective was to identify and hybridize a suite of technologies enabling the development of predictive decision aids for use principally in combat environments but also in any complex information terrain. The technologies required included formal concept analysis for knowledge representation and information operations, Peircean reasoning to support hypothesis generation, Mill’s canons to begin defining information operators that support the first two technologies and co-evolutionary game theory to provide the environment / domain to assess predictions from the reasoning engines. The intended application domain is the IED problem because of its inherent evolutionary nature. While a fully functioning integrated algorithm was not achieved the hybridization and demonstration of the technologies was accomplished and demonstration of utility provided for a number of ancillary queries.
    • Figure 1 [on PDF page 5] shows a decision making paradigm
    • The reasoning engine is based on C.S. Peirce’s model of scientific inquiry. This philosophical construct provides the foundation for how we as humans reason about situations new to us. This model consists of three reasoning capabilities; Abduction, deduction and induction. A crude way of looking at this suite of logic is abduction provides plausible hypotheses to explain an observation, deduction provides a basis for selecting from that set of hypotheses, and induction is the means to validate the hypothesis selected.

  • Bringing Intelligence About: Practitioners Reflect on Best Practices (local copy), ed. by Swenson, Joint Military Intelligence College, 2003
    • Reasoning: The ability to reason is what permits humans to process information and formulate explanations, to assign meaning to observed phenomena. It is by reasoning that analysts transform information into intelligence, in these three ways:
      • 1. Induction: Inductive reasoning combines separate fragments of information, or specific answers to problems, to form general rules or conclusions. For example, using induction, a child learns to associate the color red with heat and heat with pain, and then to generalize these associations to new situations. Rigorous induction depends upon demonstrating the validity of causal relationships between observed phenomena, not merely associating them with each other.
      • 2. Deduction: Deductive reasoning applies general rules to specific problems to arrive at conclusions. Analysts begin with a set of rules and use them as a basis for interpreting information. For example, an analyst who follows the nuclear weapons program of a country might notice that a characteristic series of events preceded the last nuclear weapons test. Upon seeing evidence that those same events are occurring again, the analyst might deduce that a second nuclear test is imminent. However, this conclusion would be made cautiously, since deduction works best in closed systems such as mathematics, making it of limited use in forecasting human behavior.
      • 3. Abduction: Abductive reasoning describes the thought process that accompanies “insight” or intuition. When the information does not match that expected, the analyst asks “why?,” thereby generating novel hypotheses to explain given evidence that does not readily suggest a familiar explanation. For example, given two shipping manifests, one showing oranges and lemons being shipped from Venezuela to Florida, and the other showing carnations being shipped from Delaware to Colombia, abductive reasoning is what enables the analyst to take an analytic leap and ask, “Why is citrus fruit being sent to the worldwide capital of citrus farming, while carnations are being sent to the world’s primary exporter of that product? What is really going on here?” Thus, abduction relies on the analyst’s preparation and experience to suggest possible explanations that must then be tested. Abduction generates new research questions rather than solutions

  • Essays and Arguments: A Handbook on Writing Argumentative and Interpretative Essays, by Johnston, May 2000, in public domain
    • spiffy Section Five, Deduction and Induction

  • spiffy Manual of Job-Related Thinking Skills (local copy), Department of Homeland Security - including deductive reasoning, reasoning with sets, inductive reasoning about real-world events, and statistical reasoning - includes quizzes throughout

  • spiffy Statistics and Trace Evidence: The Tyranny of Numbers (local copy), by Houck, in Forensic Science Communications, FBI - discusses induction and deduction and their application in establishing evidence - see especially the section "How Do We Know All Ravens Are Black?"

  • quick definitions at an NIH site listing desired job skills
    • Deductive Reasoning - Able to apply general rules to specific problems to come up with logical answers, including deciding whether an answer makes sense.
    • Inductive Reasoning - Able to combine separate pieces of information, or specific answers to problems, to form general rules or conclusions. This includes coming up with a logical explanation for why seemingly unrelated events occur together.

  • Janusian Thinking and Acting (local copy), by Paparone and Crupi, in Military Review, Jan-Feb 2002
    • The authors maintain that the current U.S. approach to military operations-strategic, operational, and tactical-is too linear for today's contemporary operating environment. They argue that future warfighters must move beyond linear thought and action to a realm of thinking and acting that recognizes and accepts paired yet opposite ideas and actions
    • "Instead of ruling out alternative hypotheses, Janusian thinking calls on us to embrace contradictions as naturally occurring phenomena. When we create insights for thinking and acting from the Janusian framework, we achieve remarkable explanatory power over the nature of human information processing."

  • The seats of reason? An imaging study of deductive and inductive reasoning, by Goel et al, Dept of Psychology, York U., North York, Ontario, CA -- abstract posted by National Library of Medicine

      We carried out a neuroimaging study to test the neurophysiological predictions made by different cognitive models of reasoning. Ten normal volunteers performed deductive and inductive reasoning tasks while their regional cerebral blood flow pattern was recorded using [15O]H2O PET imaging. In the control condition subjects semantically comprehended sets of three sentences. In the deductive reasoning condition subjects determined whether the third sentence was entailed by the first two sentences. In the inductive reasoning condition subjects reported whether the third sentence was plausible given the first two sentences. The deduction condition resulted in activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 45, 47). The induction condition resulted in activation of a large area comprised of the left medial frontal gyrus, the left cingulate gyrus, and the left superior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 8, 9, 24, 32). Induction was distinguished from deduction by the involvement of the medial aspect of the left superior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 8, 9). These results are consistent with cognitive models of reasoning that postulate different mechanisms for inductive and deductive reasoning and view deduction as a formal rule-based process.
      PMID: 9175134 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • Deductive Logic, by St. George Stock, posted by Project Gutenberg

Counterfactual ReasoningBack to Top
  • Counterfactual Reasoning: A Basic Guide for Analysts, Strategists, and Decision Makers (local copy), by Hendrickson, The Proteus Monograph Series, Oct 2008
    • Counterfactual reasoning is the process of evaluating conditional claims about alternate possibilities and their consequences (i.e., “What If” statements). These alternatives can be either past possibilities (e.g., “If the United States had not abolished the Iraqi army in 2003, then the Iraqi insurgency would have been significantly smaller in 2005”) or future possibilities (e.g., “If Iran had nuclear weapons, then it would provide this technology to Hezbollah”). Counterfactuals are essential to intelligence analysis because they are implicit in all strategic assessments.
    • Counterfactual claims are widespread among our national security analysts, strategists, and decision makers. Unfortunately, this is not widely recognized. Furthermore, there is no comprehensive model of counterfactual reasoning to which anyone may turn if they do become aware of the ubiquitous nature of counterfactuals within intelligence and national security. Instead, there are several fragmented approaches in philosophy, logic, history, political science, and psychology. To make matters worse, none of these approaches has been applied to the unique challenges of intelligence and security. In response, this work seeks to demonstrate both the structure and the significance of counterfactual reasoning. It offers not only the first complete system of counterfactual reasoning (of which this author is aware), but the first one specifically designed to address the domain of intelligence analysis and national security. Furthermore, this work proposes three major claims about the place of counterfactual reasoning in analysis and strategy. Therefore, this work is not only intended to serve as an education in counterfactual reasoning, but also as an exhortation to counterfactual reasoning.
    • First Major Proposal (The Strategic Presumption of Counterfactuals): All strategies (and analyses of them) are grounded in a series of counterfactual claims about alternate possibilities, their consequences, and the relationships between them.
    • Second Major Proposal (The Systematic Potential of Counterfactuals): Major extant methods for assessing alternate possibilities, their consequences, and the relationships between them may be viewed as ultimately not distinct, but as aspects of a single process—counterfactual reasoning.
    • Third Major Proposal (The Structural Priority of Counterfactuals): All assessment of alternate possibilities, their consequences, and the relationships between them should ultimately be conditional (as it is in counterfactual reasoning).

Dialectical ReasoningBack to Top

Fast and Slow ThinkingBack to Top

  • See also intuition

  • Dual process theory, Wikipedia article

  • spiffy Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Kahneman, 2011
    • Book review of Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Kahneman (local copy), review by Babetski, in CIA Studies in Intelligence Vol. 56, No. 2
      • Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work with Tversky on prospect theory, also highlights the best work of other researchers throughout the book. Thinking, Fast and Slow introduces no revolutionary new material, but it is a masterpiece because of the way Kahneman weaves existing research together.
      • System 1, or fast thinking, operates automatically and quickly with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
      • System 2, or slow thinking, allocates attention to the mental activities that demand effort, such as complex computations and conscious, reasoned choices about what to think and what to do.
      • Kahneman focuses much of the book on the interactions of System 1 and System 2 and the problems inherent in those interactions. Both systems are “on” when we are awake. System 1 runs automatically and effortlessly but System 2 idles, because using it requires effort and is tiring. System 1 generates impressions and feelings, which become the source of System 2’s explicit beliefs and deliberate choices. System 1, when it encounters something it cannot quickly understand and did not expect (in other words, a surprise), enlists System 2 to make sense of the anomaly. The alerted System 2 takes charge, overriding System 1’s automatic reactions. System 2 always has the last word when it chooses to assert it.

  • Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy -- and our own self-awareness."
    • "Widely regarded as the world's most influential living psychologist, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in Economics for his pioneering work in behavioral economics -- exploring the irrational ways we make decisions about risk."

  • Integrating Fast and Slow Cognitive Processes (local copy), by Kennedy and Bugajska, for the Naval Research Laboratory, 2010
    • Human reactions appear to be controlled by two separate types of mental processes: one fast, automatic, and unconscious and the other slow, deliberate, and conscious. With the attention in the literature focused on the taxonomy of the two processes, there is little discussion of how they interact. In this paper, we focus on modeling the slower process's ability to inhibit the fast process. We present computational cognitive models in which different strategies allow a human to consciously inhibit an undesirable fast response.

  • Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. New York: Little, Brown, 2005

IntuitionBack to Top
    The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
    We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
    — Albert Einstein

  • See also fast and slow thinking

  • See also creativity and innovation

  • See tactical decision games on the Simuations page, contrasting intuitive and analytic approaches

  • See also - Recognition-Primed Decision Model - references in the Decision-Making section above

  • See also situation awareness

  • Todd Landman - Rational Intuition: Strategic thinking & gut instinct for successful leadership, video of speech plus Q&A, given at the RSA

  • Developing Intuitive Decision-Making In Modern Military Leadership (local copy), by McCown, Naval War College, 27 Oct 2010

  • Strategic Decision Games: Improving Strategic Intuition (local copy), by DeFoor, Joint Advanced Warfighting School, 23 Apr 2007

  • Reforming Pentagon Strategic Decisionmaking (local copy), by Lamb and Lachow, INSS, Strategic Forum No. 221, July 2006

  • How We Decide (local copy), by Schmitt, in Designing TDGs: A Tactical Decision. Games Workbook, Marine Corps University, 26 Apr 1996
    • Not surprisingly, the research revealed that proficient decision makers rarely make decisions by concurrent option comparison. Instead they use their intuition to recognize the essence of a given situation and to tell them what appropriate action to take. In fact, separate studies by Dr. Gary Klein and others conclude that decision makers in a variety of fields use the analytical apaproach to decision making less than 10 percent of the time and employ intuitive techniques over 90 percent of the time.

  • Lee’s Mistake: Learning from the Decision to Order Pickett’s Charge (local copy), by Gompert and Kugler, Defense Horizons number 54, Aug 2006

  • Custer in Cyberspace (local copy), by Gompert and Kugler, Defense Horizons number 51, Feb 2006
    • When conditions are complex and dynamic, time is short, and critical information is available, the key to making good decisions is to blend intuition with reasoning—more specifically, reliable intuition with timely reasoning.

  • From "The Personal Relevance of Great Campaigns" - by Bird, 22 Feb 2001, Command and General Staff Officer's Course
    • Carl Von Clausewitz explains that events in warfare are surrounded by uncertainty, and that there are few universal truths. Because of this, leaders must sort through this “fog” to find the truth, often a daunting endeavor that’s permeated by chance. The commander must sift through this information and decide what pieces are relevant and require action. Clausewitz specifically refers to the capability of the mind to discriminate information allowing quick, correct decisions. He describes this ability as coup d’oeil, “the quick recognition of a truth that the mind would ordinarily miss or would perceive only after long study and reflection.”2 Napoleon faced such a scenario in the battles of Jena-Auerstadt. With limited information, he turned an entire field army in place to seek decisive battle with the Prussians and won the day. [2Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 100-102. ]

  • Coup D'Oeil: Strategic Intuition in Army Planning (local copy), by Duggan, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), Nov 2005

  • Command Decision-Making: Experience Counts (local copy), by Wolgast, Army War College paper, 2005

  • Intuition: an Imperative of Command (local copy), by Rogers, in Military Review - examines relevance of intuition to decision making in the context of warfighting on the modern battlefield

  • Tactical Intuition (local copy), by Reinwald, in Military Review, Sep-Oct 2000

  • Intuition: An Instantaneous Backup System?, by Mrazek, in Air University Review

  • Decisionmaking Theory (local copy), Marine Corps Doctrine Publication 6
    • "the intuitive approach is more appropriate for the vast majority of typical tactical or operational decisions-decisions made in the fluid, rapidly changing conditions of war when time and uncertainty are critical factors, and creativity is a desirable trait"

    • Note 18. Intuitive decisionmaking more appropriate for the vast majority of tactical/operational decisions: A 1989 study by Gary A. Klein (based on 1985 observations) estimated that decision makers in a variety of disciplines use intuitive methods 87 percent of the time and analytical methods 13 percent of the time. Evidence now suggests that this study was actually biased in favor of analysis. More recent studies estimate the breakdown at more nearly 95 percent intuitive to 5 percent analytical. G. A. Klein, "Recognition-Primed Decisions" in William B. Rouse (ed.), Advances in Man-Machine System Research (Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 1989); G. L. Kaempf, S. Wolf, M. L. Thordsen, and G. Klein, Decision Making in the Aegis Combat Information Center (Fairborn, OH: Klein Associates, 1992); R. Pascual and S. Henderson, "Evidence of Naturalistic Decision Making in Command and Control" in C. Zsambok and G. Klein (eds.), Naturalistic Decision Making, forthcoming publication (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates); Kathleen Louise Mosier, Decision Making in the Air Transport Flight Deck: Process and Product, unpublished dissertation (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1990).

  • Decision Making Theory (local copy), Naval Doctrine Publication 6, Naval Command and Control
    • "The intuitive approach is clearly more appropriate for the fluid, rapidly changing environment of combat, when time and uncertainty are critical factors."

  • The Warning Process and the Role of Intuition (local copy), course module from NOAA

  • Intuitive Policing - Emotional/Rational Decision Making in Law Enforcement (local copy), by Pinizzotto et al, in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 2004

  • Cultivating Intuitive Decisionmaking (local copy), by Krulak, in Marine Corps Gazette, May 1999, as posted on the USMC Commandant's Page

  • War in the Pits: Marine-Futures Traders Wargame (local copy), NDU Strategic Forum 61, by West
    • Marine generals and colonels vs futures traders in decisionmaking wargame
    • "The traders' OODA loop, executed at much higher speed, is ISAA: Information, Sort by Priority, Act, Assess"
  • Virtual Stress (local copy), in Marines Online, senior Marines vs futures traders in decision making wargame

  • Intuitive people worse at detecting lies, by Young, NewScientist.com, 18 Mar 2002
    • People who think of themselves as being intuitive make worse lie detectors than those who do not trust in a "gut instinct", according to new research.
    • One possible explanation is that intuitives in fact rely on common misconceptions about how to spot a liar, he says.

Situation Awareness, Situational AwarenessBack to Top Ye Olde Brain, and Its WorkingsBack to Top
    The destiny of every human being is decided by what goes on inside his skull when confronted with what goes on outside his skull.
    — Dr. Eric Berne

    I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    — Alan Greenspan

  • Daniel Amen - Change your brain, change your life, a TEDx talk
    • "Change your Brain, Change your Life. Revelations based on studying 63,000 brain images across 90 countries over 20 years. How Brain imaging can change paradigms and our understanding of healthy life, no matter where we live."

  • Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu: A mouse. A laser beam. A manipulated memory - a TED talk (you may need to watch it on YouTube if TED videos are blocked)
    • "Can we edit the content of our memories? It’s a sci-fi-tinged question that Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu are asking in their lab at MIT. Essentially, the pair shoot a laser beam into the brain of a living mouse to activate and manipulate its memory. In this unexpectedly amusing talk they share not only how, but -- more importantly -- why they do this. (Filmed at TEDxBoston.)"

  • spiffy From Bench to Bunker: How a 1960s discovery in neuroscience spawned a military project, by Bardin, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 9 July 2012
    • The man has a machine strapped to his head, an array of electrodes called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, which is recording his brain activity as each image skips by. It then sends the brain-activity data wirelessly to a large computer. The computer has learned what the man's brain activity looks like when he sees one of the visual targets, and, based on that information, it quickly reshuffles the images. When the man sorts back through the hundreds of images—most without structures, but some with—almost all the ones with buildings in them pop to the front of the pack. His brain and the computer have done good work.
    • That display was a demonstration of a new technology being developed through a collaboration between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military's research arm, and a private company called Neuromatters, which was founded by a team led by the Columbia University bioengineer Paul Sajda. The hope is that, in the near future, military analysts might use the technology to eliminate worthless images in seconds, speeding up their review of satellite images by orders of magnitude. By the looks of it, it's working.

  • Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try monotasking, a talk from TED.com - if TED site is blocked, you may be able to watch it on YouTube or one of the other sites
    • People aren’t just cooking anymore -- they’re cooking, texting, talking on the phone, watching YouTube and uploading photos of the awesome meal they just made. Designer Paolo Cardini questions the efficiency of our multitasking world and makes the case for -- gasp -- "monotasking."

  • Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are, a talk from TED.com - if TED site is blocked, you may be able to watch it on YouTube or one of the other sites
    • "Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success."
    • "Amy Cuddy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions."

  • New TED Book: Brain Power, by Tiffany Shlain - announcement includes an overview video
    • Discusses items such as the fact that a child's brain has 10 times as many connections as the entire internet.

  • Shifting Your Brain: Anders Sandberg at TEDxTallinn - video - turning technology inward to change ourselves

  • spiffy Left-Brain/Right-Brain (local copy), from Army ROTC "Foundations for Success"

  • Iain McGilchrist: The divided brain - a "Best of the Web" talk featured by TED
    • Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist describes the real differences between the left and right halves of the human brain. It's not simply "emotion on the right, reason on the left," but something far more complex and interesting. A Best of the Web talk from RSA Animate.

  • Scott Fraser: Why eyewitnesses get it wrong, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Scott Fraser studies how humans remember crimes -- and bear witness to them. In this powerful talk, which focuses on a deadly shooting at sunset, he suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create "memories" they could not have seen. Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum."
  • Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Tan Le's astonishing new computer interface reads its user's brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications."
  • Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other's minds, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions."
  • Kwabena Boahen on a computer that works like the brain, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Researcher Kwabena Boahen is looking for ways to mimic the brain's supercomputing powers in silicon -- because the messy, redundant processes inside our heads actually make for a small, light, superfast computer."
  • Diane Benscoter on how cults rewire the brain, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Diane Benscoter spent five years as a "Moonie." She shares an insider's perspective on the mind of a cult member, and proposes a new way to think about today's most troubling conflicts and extremist movements."
    • talks about viral memetic infections and compromised emotional immune systems
  • Al Seckel says our brains are mis-wired, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "Al Seckel, a cognitive neuroscientist, explores the perceptual illusions that fool our brains. Loads of eye tricks help him prove that not only are we easily fooled, we kind of like it."
  • Steven Pinker on language and thought, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "In an exclusive preview of his book The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds -- and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize."
  • Keith Barry does brain magic, a talk from TED.com (but you may need to watch it on YouTube if the TED.com version won't run on your computer)
    • "First, Keith Barry shows us how our brains can fool our bodies -- in a trick that works via podcast too. Then he involves the audience in some jaw-dropping (and even a bit dangerous) feats of brain magic."

  • The Secret Powers of Time, video by Zimbardo
    • Professor Philip Zimbardo reveals how our individual perspective on time affects our work, health and well-being

  • Mind Reading Machine on CBS Reads Your Thoughts - (10 out of 10 at guessing what a scanned person is thinking about) – also reading/assessing “intentions” and being able to assess if you’ve been somewhere before (for example, when you were robbing the house) and neural marketing – and brain patterns indicating various emotions

  • Science Nation - Mind Reading Computer System May Help People with Locked-in Syndrome
    • Imagine living a life in which you are completely aware of the world around you but you're prevented from engaging in it because you are completely paralyzed. Even speaking is impossible. For an estimated 50,000 Americans this is a harsh reality. It's called locked-in syndrome, a condition in which people with normal cognitive brain activity suffer severe paralysis, often from injuries or an illness such as Lou Gehrig's disease. Boston University neuroscientist Frank Guenther works with the National Science Foundation's Center of Excellence for Learning in Education, Science and Technology (CELEST), which is made up of eight private and public institutions, mostly in the Boston area. Its purpose is to synthesize the experimental modeling and technological approaches to research in order to understand how the brain learns as a whole system. In particular, Guenther's research is looking at how brain regions interact, with the hope of melding mind and machine, and ultimately making life much better for people with locked-in syndrome.

  • Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
  • MIT CogNet: the Brain Sciences Connection

  • spiffy Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (local copy), by Heuer, 1999, for CIA -- very good examination of many elements of critical thinking and mental processes, with examples (PDF version)

  • Complexity, Conflict Resolution, and How the Mind Works, by Jones and Hughes, in Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Summer 2003

  • Semiotic Fundamentals of Information Processing in Human Brain (local copy), by Perlovsky, Air Force Research Lab
    • The paper discusses a mathematical nature of signs and symbols, and relates it to information processing and understanding, structure of the mind and brain, learning, and pattern recognition.

  • Quantum Theory and the Role of Mind in Nature (local copy), by Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  • On Quantum Theories of the Mind (local copy), by Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  • A Quantum Theory of the Mind-Brain Interface (local copy), by Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  • The Evolution of Consciousness (local copy), by Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  • Values and the Quantum Conception of Man (local copy), by Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  • additional work by Stapp

Videos for Thinking & InnovatingBack to Top
    Many videos from the following sources are scattered throughout this website. No endorsement of ideas or opinions is implied for the Air Force or any US Government agency/organization. These are for your personal interests and education only.

  • TED talks - over 1,200 videos, from 3 minutes to 25 minutes, by leading thinkers and developers in many fields of study
    • "TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader."
    • if the TED website copy of the video doesn't play on your computer, cut and paste the title of the talk into a search engine to find the YouTube copy or other copy which may play.

  • The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce)
    • "an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges"
    • over 400 videos, animations, shorts, and more
    • RSA Animate takes select speeches and adds entertaining animation effects

  • 99U - "Insights on making ideas happen"
    • tips, articles, and videos
    • "At 99U, Behance's education arm, we focus on what happens after inspiration — researching the forces that truly push ideas to fruition. Our profiles of proven idea makers, action-oriented tips, and annual conference are all designed to help you transform ideas from vision to reality."

  • PopTech videos
    • "We’re a global community of innovators, working together to expand the edge of change."

  • MIT Technology Review videos

  • DARPA TV on Youtube

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