More on dynamic signals

July 16, 2009 — Leave a comment

In the past week there have been three very smart posts on dynamic signal: one from David Armano , one from Skillful Minds, and one from Mark Fidelman.  The dynamic signal is one of the key elements (archetypes, as Dachis Corp calls them) of developing a successful social business (internally, externally, or preferably both); it is an enabling capablitiy whose fate will be decided by an organization’s culture and its employees’ willingness to create a dynamic signal and embrace its potential.

Back in January, I posted on this topic of pushing information to the edge of organizations.  The theory is actually based on the military’s traditional methods of Command and Control and how they are attempting to evolve information flow, much like we’re trying to do with a social business.  Below, given the recent discussion of dynamic signals, is an appropriate excerpt of that post.  If you wish to read the entire post, it is here (actually written around an event incited by David Armano).

Command and control (C2) was the traditional method (and is still widely used today) for organizing military forces.  As a soldier (on the edge) you got your orders only once, from the top (the core).  You followed them, no deviation.  One of the main reasons for this approach was lack of bandwidth.  Chances were, once you got into the field, should an unforseen situation arise there was almost no opportunity to communicate back to the top.  You had no choice but to proceed as planned.  And speaking of unforseen situations, C2 assumed that there wouldn’t be any.  We knew who our enemy was and how they operated (think Cold War); not so true in today’s world (think 9/11).  Resulting from this C2 approach was a very strong/smart ‘core’ and a very weak/uninformed/dumb ‘edge.’  That just won’t work today.

Power to the Edge urges the military to change its approach, to empower, educate & sharpen the edge.  Things do happen in the field and the the front lines need the ability & freedom to operate and overcome those obstacles.  Technology & bandwidth have made information flow to the edge possible; the edge can be smarter and more effective than ever before.  However, there is a foundation that must be in place for Power to the Edge to occur :

• Clear and consistent understanding of command intent;

• High quality information and shared situational awareness;

• Competence at all levels of the force; and

• Trust in the information, subordinates, superiors, peers, and equipment.

So, I think the bullet points above represent key requirements for companies looking to generate a dynamic signal (each bullet probably deserves its own post).  While a dynamic signal could be a great asset to an organization looking to be more effective/efficient/innovative, you don’t just order one from Amazon (or HP).  You have to build it, and it’s not a tool – the tool amplifies the signal, but the tool does not create the signal.  Employees, given the right culture create the signal.  Once you’ve got that, a tool can tap into the signal and distribute it very efficiently.  But, even after you achieve distribution of your dynamic signal, does your company have the culture (or design) to act on it?  To benefit from it?  Are your employees ready for this?  Are those who hold the power in your organization ready for more informed employees?

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