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May 11, 2009
A Minuteman III ICBM test launch from Vandenbe...
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It’s interesting how thoughts get triggered. Here I was, being driven through the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and I noticed the high presence of armed forces. They’re everywhere. A constant reminder that the country is at war.

And from there, my thoughts went to War. How war has changed. It’s not what it used to be.

Used to be, only warriors fought and died in wars. If the conqueror was benevolent, life went on. If not, you got taxed, or raped or lost your home. Sometimes you got beheaded or burned. But largely, civilians i.e non-warriors didn’t feel the effects of war, other than maybe financially.

In the last 150 years, this has changed. Cities are bombed. Select ethnic groups are targeted. Women and children are not spared.

War has become unreasonable. The reasons for war though, continue to be unreasonable.

Terrorism is the new war.

And armed forces, intelligence organizations, in countries that have suffered terrorism have learned that they must change their game. That the rules have changed.

That terrorists don’t give warning. Cannot be seen from a few miles or a few thousand miles away. Attack hard and soft targets. Any time. Any where.  Any how.

Entry barriers to terrorism have lowered. Guns, money, bombs and the means of manufacturing or stealing them, are freely available online.

The large size of today’s armed forces, the ICBMs, nuclear warheads are ineffective against this new threat that strikes within their borders with impunity. They now have to learn to be small, agile and respond quickly in the urban space. They weren’t trained for this.

Intelligence agencies have to be like an always on radar, for a threat that is small, well organized, agile, and has no known signature which doesn’t know what it is searching for! They weren’t designed for this.

And from here, my thoughts jump to organizations.

Disruptive change is here. Pretty much like a terrorist act.

Large, global corporations, very much akin to armies of old. Are under attack, from nimble, agile newcomers, who’re attacking strongholds. Leveraging technology, especially the internet, to leapfrog the older, slower, more encumbered corporations. What Amazon did to book sellers, what online travel bookings have done to travel agencies, how Zappos is doing it with shoes!

And these corporations are realizing that the game has changed. And they’re unable to change as fast as the newcomers who’re birthed with new DNA and are leveraging technology from inception. The brick and mortar, command and control structures of established players slow them down. Legacy mindsets hold them back.

The newcomers have no hierarchy, ideas are king, and they’re fast, nimble and responsive to change. Born in this age.

And yet, as an agent of change, I know that this too will pass. That the new of today, will be the old of tomorrow. And a new challenge, a new world will emerge. Sooner than anyone thinks possible.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2009 4:49 pm

    And what, in some ways, Twitter is doing to blogs!

    War always has an impact I would think. Even in earlier times, a country might have won, but warriors still fell didn’t they? What of their families. But yes, the attacks on helpless innocents has definitely become something of an incidental by-product (if that phrase makes sense!) in the last century.

    On another note, one of my favourite quotes by Stephen Colbert: “The world is changing so fast, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes I feel like a dinosaur.”


  2. dee permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:50 am

    well articulated. and yes, these are changing times … and some changes certainly are more assaulting than what we perhaps are prepared for …

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