Searching for the "Sweet Spot" in Group Effects
"Free" Network Tools Wisdom from the Dean Blog

Campaign Group "Optimization" in Network-Centric Advocacy Context

Measures of Effectiveness for the Information-Age Navy: The Effects of Network-Centric Operations on Combat Outcomes by Walter Perry, Robert W. Button, Jerome Bracken, Thomas Sullivan, Jonathan Mitchell.

I am not sure why an environmentalist should read Information Age Navy but it does get one out of the day to day grind of watching Bush administration decimate our environment. Millions of tax dollars are being invested into defense thinking …some of it must be valuable to other context.

Actually, Perry and his gang have really worked hard at attempting to develop standards that can be used to evaluate effectiveness of operational networks. (I hope that the future of their work is not classified. ) I look forward to following the completed study and to see if the matrix of standards can be used to refine network-centric advocacy campaign planning.

I would like to explore a few quotes here (others tomorrow). I have stripped and teased them with hope of making the appropriate linkage to the network-centric advocacy context.

Network-centric is generally “thought to be the linking of platforms into one, shared awareness network in order to obtain informational superiority, get inside the opponents decision cycle and end conflict quickly.” It is an interesting perspective on the goal of network operations. It does not surprise me that information awareness is a key part. I also follow the quick conflict thoughts. The point that I have given no thought to is how network-centric advocacy campaigns and a networked movement enables progressives to "get inside the decision cycle" of our opposition.

What does that mean? How do self-organizing campaigns collect and distribute resources in such a way that the actions create more awareness of the opponents decision process and influence it at the same time. Network-centric advocacy campaigns need to add a decision cycle "monitoring" capacity focused on opposition tactics and attempt to "forecast" the steps they may take to neutalize a campaign. I kicked around a related point in old blogs (Web Site Tracking for Advocacy, Speed not Secrets Drive Network-Centric Campaign Success, Crisis Communications - Create a Crisis for Your Opponents. However, the "inside the decision cycle" creates a new goal for network-centric advocacy campaign planners to incorporate as they layout advocacy plans. In our context, I can see campaigns that are launched in response to a "spill" pushing media attention in a way that forces the opposition (industry responsible for the spill) be more transparent in the decision process. The goal would be to foce them to invest more money in the clean up (money could by speed of clean up or best practices and longer term monitoring) or prevention efforts (because of the network response changes risk calculations and costs).

Looking at traditional vs. network operations they “the difference is that in traditional models one must mass force to mass effectiveness because each participant acts independently, whereas in network-centric approach effects are massed rather than force. That is, systems are “optimized” to improve aggregate performance, possibly at the expense of individual unit performance.


This is a great quote. Perry has looked the the perfomance of networks and individual components of the network for "optimization" . This quote resonates with my experience in working with large national group staff that "see" network-centric action as a less efficient use of the resources they have. These large hubs will need to act as part of the connection grid being less efficent units of the movement in order to optimize aggregate perfomance of all the groups working on the issues. Green Group strategy focuses on massing the polticial force of the network rather than connecting the efforts of lots of grassroots directed efforts to create mass effects on policy. Standard engagement at the grassroots level groups consist of large DC groups asking locals to help them in a campaign in DC. It is the exception to the rule for nationals to provide brandless horsepower to a local fight.

It is really hard to appear less then "optimized" performer to funders and supporters. The result mimics the models in the network computaitons done for the Navy. Each unit in our movement strives for individual performance peak often at the expense of aggregate policy impact.