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WalMart and the DoD: Network-Centric Warfare Strategy and Management Goals

Here is an interesting riff pulled from a Google group. Google Groups :

I like this section. It stimulates thoughts about restructuring the progressive movement and our operations.

The revolutionaries went even further, preaching that the potentials of 21st century warmaking technology were being squandered within 19th century military bureaucracies.

The new military forces of production were straining to break out of their archaic relations of production. They viciously compared the Pentagon to one of the old economy corporations "hardwired, dumb and topheavy" that were being driven into extinction in the contemporary new economy marketplace.

Their alternative? WalMart, the Arkansas based retail leviathan. It
may seem odd, to say the least, to nominate a chain store that peddles
cornflakes, jeans and motor oil as the model for a leaner, meaner
Pentagon, but Marshall's think tankers were only following in the footsteps
of management theorists who had already beatified WalMart as the essence
of a "self synchronized distributed network with real time transactional
awareness." Translated, this means that the stores' cash registers
automatically transmit sales data to Wal Mart's suppliers and that
inventory is managed through "horizontal" networks

The work then goes back to focus on warfare but the gem is that the think tanks were making the connection between "live" connections across all elements in evolved in warfare, commerce supply chain and that they have started with the goal to connect these to produce better results.

The heart of network-centric advocacy is to connect the political and advocacy "supply chain" to produce better results (hopefully, wrestle back power from Walmart and DoD among others.)

Creative Design: SpongeBob's Sexual Habits and Focus on the Family

This is too good to let slide.

Link: | 01/31/2005 | Life in the sea is about reproduction, not family values.

SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg, who has a background in marine biology, had to be aware that in creating a cartoon sponge he'd be opening himself up to charge of marine-based immorality. Sponges can reproduce asexually, for example. And if Dobson's followers don't object to that, I'm sure they'll be distressed to learn that sponges can be hermaphrodites, too. Single sponges not only produce sperm and eggs but are broadcast spawners, indiscriminately releasing sperm in such profusion as to turn seawater smoky white

Ohh the horror...fear the Spongebob! It seems like homosexuality may not be the only thing he could inspire!

Evolution is amazing. Mixing in bad politics makes it funny too.

Advocacy @ the Speed of Thought

I am having huge amounts of fun with
Link: Bill Gates - Business @ the Speed of Thought. The book is a fun riff from a true genius at the very edge of reshaping business and integrating technology into a company.

Bill is pretty clear that the big shifts are not technology driven but strategic thinking shifts. I am reading the book to see what translates to the environmental movements, party or advocacy contexts. It is pretty rich in pointing out the places we can improve as a an alliance of groups.

The goal of knowledge management is to increase corporate IQ by sharing history and current knowledge. Executives must lead the way, establishing open communications and proper tools.

Online tools solve training problems. Sharing information is key to recruiting and retaining smart people. Global access to information doesn't mean centralized management. The CEO must foster a collaborative, knowledge-sharing corporate culture, provide the digital tools, and reward knowledge sharing.

The current management and competitive nature of the fractionalized specialty movement actually foster the opposite. Much of the leadership in the movement are hippie luddites that cut their expertise in the 1960s-1970s. there is a pride in technical ineptness.

Knowledge management as I use it here is not a software product or a software category. Knowledge management doesn't even start with technology. It starts with business objectives and processes and a recognition of the need to share information. Knowledge management is nothing more than managing information flow, getting the right information to the people who need it so that they can act on it quickly.

So...How many activists feel that the business objective of the movements leadership at state, regional and national level contains a strategic approach to share information? Which Senators are leaning toward clean air, fighting conservative judges, etc.? What arguments persuade elected officials on the value of clean air standards in Georgia or Washington State? When national group fundraising staff find out that a foundation is interested in more local groups proposals who is that shared? When local groups understand a donor is looking for more professional and science based approach to landscape issues do they feed it to national organizations? (Sometimes..but is there a system? )

The workers in a company with a high corporate IQ collaborate effectively so that all of the key people on a project are well informed and energized. ...

To recruit and retain smart people, you need to make it easy for them to collaborate with other smart people. That makes for a stimulating, energized workplace. A collaborative culture, reinforced by information flow, makes it possible for smart people all over a company to be in touch with each other. When you get a critical mass of high-IQ people working in concert, the energy level shoots way up. Cross-stimulation brings on new ideas-and less experienced employees are pulled along to a higher level. The company as a whole works smarter.

Yeah...the movement could use some of that.

Bill summarizes the lessons of chapter 14 with a few zingers ..

"a company's ability to respond to unplanned events, good or bad, is a prime indicator of its ability to compete."

"Strategically a major function of the CEO is to look for bad news and encourage the organization to respond to it. Employees must be encouraged to share bad news as much as the good news. "

"Reward worthy failure--experimentation."

And then ask three strategic questions that the leadership of the movement should address...(ill edit for this context)

Do your systems enable you to learn about bad news anywhere in the movement and communicate it quickly?

Do your systems enable you to assemble the necessary data and get teams working on the solutions quickly?

Can you put together virtual teams from separate departments and geographies?

The movement fails these test. Groups don't share polling data, data on elected officials, funders or decision makers in office or corporate world. The movement doesn't share insights on reporters or campaigns. Bad news is spun even to other allies in the movement. There are very poor systems that enable collaboration across organizations, geographies and regional focuses.

The bad news is that it sounds like all bad news for the movement if we continue "As is". The great news is that there is a new road map and strategy for us to pursue once we tire of the current results.

Strategically focus on building a network-centric movement. Focus on the connections across the departments of progressive politics and public interest work. build a well planned communications grid among allied interests, a open and transparent reputation system for volunteers and staff and define new more flexible ownership rights around intellectual property, hardware and staff skills.

Google Video Search: Clipping for the Movement

This is cool. Google has just made a video clipping service by searching the text for the hearing impared. Enjoy. Enjoy.

Link: Google Video Search.

KTVU Channel 2 News at Noon
... The ktvu channel 2 news at noon.. New information is just in on the number of people who di in the South Asia quake and tsunami. And parts of Southern California...Are getting hammered by a powerful ktvu channel 2 news at noon starts now. Good afternoon. I'm Mark Curtis. Frank and Tori have the...
Fox - Fox Network - Tue Dec 28 2004 at 12:00 PM PST - 30 minutes

Political Jib Jabbers Kicking Your Membership and Marketing Department's Tail: Will You Reorganize Your Campaign Strategy to be Network-Centric?

Micah L. Sifry kicks out a fantastic summary of the current shifts in advocacy strategy and approaches to organizing on AlterNet.

Network-Centric politics is on the rise for 2 reasons.
1. Failure of leadership to listen and engage the public.
2. The rapid "wiring" of the public.
Since you can't ever listen too much and there is no sign of society slowing down the march of connectivity the question is then when will you realize it is time to change your strategy? Is the movement waiting for a particular event? Are our leaders and key funders waiting for a further decline in political power? More proof that online organizing works? Proof that it is possible to raise money online?

To the first point:

They were replaced by a proliferating array of professionally run, top-down advocacy organizations, like the AARP and Natural Resources Defense Council. "America is now full of civic entrepreneurs who are constantly looking upward for potential angels, shmoozing with the wealthy," Skocpol writes, rather than talking to people of modest means.
But it is also true that insiderism and elitism have recently come under heavy attack, as everyone from Trent Lott to Dan Rather can attest. And it's not just Congress and big media whose hierarchies are being challenged; nonprofits and interest groups are feeling the ground shift too. "Members Unite! You have nothing to lose but your newsletters and crappy coffee-cup premiums," read the title of a recent post on, a blog devoted to fostering this movement. New web-based tools are facilitating a different way of doing politics, one in which we may all actually, not hypothetically, be equals; where transparency and accountability are more than slogans; and where anyone with few resources but a compelling message can be a community organizer, an ad-maker, a reporter, a publisher, a theorist, a money-raiser or a leader.

To the second:

Consider these harbingers:

* About two-thirds of American adults use the internet, and more than 55 percent have access to a high-speed internet connection at either home or work.

* More than 53 million people have contributed material online, according to a spring 2003 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

* More than 15 million have their own web site.

* A new blog, or online journal, is created every 5.3 seconds, according to, a site that tracks the known universe of these easily updated web sites. As of Nov. 1, there were almost 4.3 million blogs, a million more than three months before. More than half of them are regularly updated by their creators, producing more than 400,000 fresh postings every day.

* A well-written blog, Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo, gets more than 500,000 monthly visitors – as many as the entire web site of The American Prospect, the magazine where Marshall used to work, at a fraction of the cost.

* Of the approximately 400,000-500,000 people who attended a political meeting through the social-networking site this election season, half had never gone to a political meeting before. 60 percent were under 40.

*Attendees of Meetups for Democratic Party presidential candidates reported making an average of $312 in political contributions last year.

*A two-minute political cartoon lampooning both Kerry and Bush, put out by this past summer, had 10 million viewings in the month of July – three times the number of hits on both presidential campaign web sites combined – and has since been viewed another 55 million times.

Really the only question to "professionals" that remains is a question about how your resources, talents, expertise and wisdom will participate in the new system of advocacy that is evolving. Are you going to continue to keep your strategy based on the "pull them off and make them members" or shift to a "push our talents and tools out to empower people who are connecting on their own?" Are your sending staff to existing meetups to embed them within a larger group or are you starting your own smaller meetup? Have you asked how many of your members Blog? Ever asked them to coordinate a post on a story or topic? Are you taking viral marketing seriously or do you think it is "brilliant" but really do nothing to experiment with it in your work?

The trends and trajectory are easy to see over the business world and now in political campaigns when we connect our off line bricks more effectively with our online presence as a movement? When will we truly network the movement and adopt network-centric strategies?

Kudos to Micah

Its Not the Government's Money...Its the Blue States'

You just gotta love all the GOP anger mongering about the tax burden. Bush's message that the government's taking all your money should really shift to we are really point the finger at his base in the red state and say you are living large on the creativity, diversity, hard work and innovation of people you generally don't like. How conservative is that?

All taxpayers know that the federal government uses tax and spending policy to redistribute income from citizens with high incomes to those who make little, but citizens are less aware about geographically based income redistribution. Tax Foundation economist Sumeet Sagoo compares the federal tax burden in each state with Census Bureau data (2003) on federal spending in each state. The result is a ranking of which states got the best deal in 2003 from Uncle Sam’s tax and spending policies.

WalMart Hurts Communities But Likes Search Engine PR Tricks

Wal-Mart boosts investments to drive people to corporate public relations site (nice move considering all the ways WalMart short changes women, minorities, destroy's communities and exacerbates sprawl all while they accelerate the out source of jobs to other countries). It is nice to see them pay big bucks for internet strategy for the public relations arm.

Wal-Mart is going on the offensive, and in a small but significant way, it has turned to paid search to help alleviate its woes.

Last week, the retail giant launched to tell its story, backed by a massive print campaign. To help drive traffic to the site, Wal-Mart purchased paid search ads through Overture.

Type "walmart labor" in Google and the top-ranked page is a February 2004 Congressional report called "Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart."

I called Wal-Mart to find out more about their paid search campaign. The representative couldn't answer strategic questions but shed a bit of light in her own way. "We did a media buy," she said. "We bought whatever we bought."

"we bought whatever we bought" ,,sounds like a really nice and friendly public relations person. However, I would be a bit grumpy too if I spent my time defending one of the largest companies in the world that thrived on externalize costs of ethical business.

"We see a downward spiral within the community that is led by Wal-Mart," Miller said at a news conference at his Concord office.

Substandard pay and health care benefits for Wal-Mart workers allow the firm to charge very low prices that force nearby stores to slash their workers' pay and benefits in order to compete, said Miller, ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Wal-Mart the largest employer in both the United States and Mexico, imposes financial burdens on local governments. A certain percentage of its workers must turn to subsidized medical care, free school lunches, housing subsidies and other taxpayer- supported welfare services, Miller said.

Lessons for advocacy groups from this sham Walmart campaign. Wal-Mart is jumping on the defense and using the website as a central campaign hub. (I imagine the minions of Wal-Mart managers and spokesperson pinched between economic security for their families and town activists will use the Wal-Mart campaign site as a training ground and talking points for all those that encourage exporting money from their community)

Wal-Mart needed to be more aggressive as the lawsuits, media criticism, and rumors mounted. The centerpiece is the Web site. Ads lead to the site, and the site provides a central channel to inform the messaging that the company carries out to the world.

Smart campaign strategy. Greedy Family.

Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes

Andy Goodman is on two two cool concepts with his new work on "Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes."

1. He is attacking bad nonprofit and advocacy presentations...Defunct Powerpoint Politics.... Andy continues to encourage folks to focus on the stories that stick with people and move away from powerpoint bullets as the compelling tool of the movement.

2. Andy is distributing the research across the web to the nonprofit community.

You may want to read the new book, Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, but first you have to contribute to the writing of that book. Confused? Here are the details: the book’s author, Andy Goodman, has posted a survey online to capture opinions from people like you on the state of the art of nonprofit presenting — what’s working, what’s not, and why. The survey takes just 10-15 minutes to complete, and once Andy has compiled all the responses, he’ll have the data that will help him write the new book (due out in December 2005).

Take the survey. Get the book when it comes out. (*Andy will send you a free copy of the book as soon as it’s ready as a thank-you for your time. -- This offer is open to full-time staff members of nonprofits and foundations only, and books will be sent free to the first 5,000 respondents to complete the survey. So fill it out today and ensure yourself a copy.)

No more soul sucking presentations! Go Andy Go!

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists - About Free Services Provided by Ethics AdviceLine

The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists - About Free Services Provided by Ethics AdviceLine. seems like a distributed toolset for providing ethics advise from a trusted source. We should look into setting these up for campaign workers and environmental professionals as a mechinism to provide a community "sounding board" for ideas and strategies.

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists is provided as a public service at no charge by the Chicago Headline Club Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It is funded in part by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation. The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists got a call from a reporter who began: "I am about to do a story that may cause something bad to happen." This was one of more than 350 calls Ethics AdviceLine has taken in the last four years from journalists who are struggling to do the right thing. Ethics AdviceLine is a free service to professional journalists who are seeking the correct course of ethical conduct while covering the news. Just call 866-DILEMMA. Calls are usually answered within 24 hours. The service is national in scope. Ethics AdviceLine's goal is not to tell callers what to do. "About two-thirds of the people call because they are really puzzled and are glad there is someone to talk to them," said Dr. David Ozar, director of Loyola University Chicago's Center for Ethics and Social Justice. "What they get is a way of thinking, to think through the problem." Questions often involve conflicts of interest, relationships with news sources and weighing the harm that might come from reporting a story.

Great stuff.

More than Half Ask Not to Be Contacted Again!

This is a little scrap of advocacy in the age of connectivity. The user community across four major organizations dealing with a huge public swarm of aid sees trends that "don't contact me ....I'll find you.

It is OK and a huge success that we are letting non-joiners participate in relief and they actually believe they won't be contacted again. My concern is that the membership and fundraising gurus will store the data and use it for data mining in the future.

A third online giving trend is that more than half of new donors are asking to not be contacted again by relief agencies. “We usually hope to obtain donor information,” says Toby Smith, an Internet strategist with CARE USA, “but we’re looking on the bright side and are happy to see the donations when they’re most needed.”

What are your gut feelings that they won't be pestered again? Maybe a opt-in in the thank you card...Can any nonprofit really leave people alone and respect the public's ability to monitor issues without the nonporfit keeping them on a list?

$350 million donated over the Internet to tsunami disaster relief efforts to date, nonprofit fundraisers are observing four trends in online giving, reports GetActive Software, Inc., a company that provides web-based relationship management services to nonprofits such as CARE USA, Oxfam America and Save the Children USA. GetActive’s clients have raised over $30 million online since the disaster struck Southeast Asia:
1. a large percentage of relief agency financial support is coming via the Internet;
2. a vast majority of gifts to relief agencies are from new donors;
3. more than half of new online donors are asking to not be contacted again by relief agencies;
4. nonprofits of all sizes are collecting relief funds online.
........ Save the Children USA, CARE USA, and Oxfam America – are reporting that 31%, 38%, and 80%, respectively, of total tsunami giving has come via their websites.

Environmental Groups and the Movement has it backwards.. The New Hierarchy


The environmental movement and many of our groups have the customer relationship pyramid almost completely inverse order. We begin by asking for a relationship with the promise of someday providing a deliverable action.

There is an assumption of traction in our work and membership models with little real transactional performance.

It seems like MoveOn model may play with this relationship a little more directly. They engage people directly in the issues that are hot and important to their people. They provide good relations and contact and eventually through house parties and group reputation they become fashionable...(will they emerge as a true partnership or fail to make the final level bond?)

Seth riffs on the concept...

You start with something that does what you say it will. You add value when you provide swift support, but even better, when it becomes clear to a user that there are ways that the product can do even more than they expected. And finally, you win when you create mutually beneficial relationships. These are easiest to imagine in the business to business world (conferences, professional advancement) but you can also see how this could apply, for example, to an iPod. It starts as a music player. It becomes a calendar and photo book. And finally, it's hip jewelry that gets you a date.

Technology Pros and Cons as Related to Democracy

An interesting summary of the role of technology in Democracy and Democratic Systems.

.. technology may help by: * promoting transparency. Once something is online it is out of the box. Power-holders can't control it, and those committed to involving others can spread the word in whatever way appropriate.

* enabling (some) stakeholders to get information, communicate, influence, collaborate more effectively. If activists are prepared to invest some time, effort and funds they can gain substantial influence.

*enabling connections to other interests who may have useful information, ideas and resources. Communities and groups can be parochial. The Net helps people connect with others tackling the same issues, get information and support.

Technology may hinder by:

*disadvantaging those without access, skills and confidence further concentrating influence with those who control the systems
*emphasising particular styles of communication (often textual)

The challenge is to accept those realities and design campaigns and campaign managment systems which work with those dynamics.

"Pile On! " Playground Dynamics and Advocacy

Back in Catholic school we really only had a parking lot for a playground so we passed the time calling out random "Pile Ons". The kids would pick some poor victim and randomly run and tackle the chump. The rest of the playground would then have a non-asphalt landing surface (the pile of initial kids) to swarm and jump onto ...oh the fun.

Seth Godin picks up on the pile on dynamics of the blogosphere and provides the outline of the online dynamic. Politicians and others have been tapping into this cascade for years. In a networked movement, we have a greater opportunity to dog pile an issue increasing our success and "fun". The pile on always offers the smaller guys opportunities to get some licks in on the bullies. in an advocacy context the pile on offers the nonprofit liputians a chance to bog down the giant industries and opponents that work against us so often.

One of the side effects of the massively many-to-many publishing model that is the blogosphere is the following math:
1. controversy is fun to write
2. controversy is fun to read
3. piling on is safe and fun
4. undoing 1, 2 and 3 is no fun, hard work and easy to avoid.

Unfortunately, there are many dynamics that prevent the "pile on" from lots of nonprofits. The way we define the scope of our groups and missions. The way foundations, members, media and the public reward lone actors and punish work that is essential anonymous.

Fat Sprawl...Killing the Planet and your Family

This is an interesting look at the additional costs to society of land mismanagement. It is costing us our landscape and health.

The briefing offered new evidence that individuals living in the areas of greatest sprawl weigh more than those living in the areas of least sprawl. Our briefing speakers pointed out that regions of high density and mixed land use encourage physical activity. The briefing findings also point to the need for adequate public transportation services that support these land uses. Policies that encourage greater physical activity in our built environment can be an important tool for lawmakers as they seek ways to confront the obesity epidemic, which has such profound impacts on public health.
Hey..nice McMansion. Not only does it run all of us an arm and a leg to maintain, eat up the landscape as a bonus you get a few love handles, health problems with that extra bedroom.