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Five ENTOVATION Principles for Homeland Security

"The kaleidoscope has been shaken.
The pieces are in flux;
soon they will settle again.
Before they do,
let us reorder the world around us."
- Prime Minister Tony Blair (2001)

We’ve had a chance to absorb the tragedy, gain some perspective and begin thinking about what actions we might take as individuals and organizations. For years, I have been writing about the ‘kaleidoscopic change.’1 It is not the speed of change of a variable, nor the speed of change of multiple variables. It is the compounding effect of the speed of change of multiple variables that has created a management landscape unfamiliar to us all.

I’ve had an opportunity to forward my own thoughts to the Office of Homeland Security based upon the following 5 Principles. I offer them here to solicit your own reactions and comments to each. Together, we could crystallize a compelling message for leaders of this new world that is ‘innovating’ before our eyes.

Principle 1: The best defense is an OFFENSE.

When people are wounded - either physically or emotionally - the tendency is to withdraw. This is essential to deal with immediate injuries and to develop some strategies to prevent further injury. However, depending upon the magnitude of the infliction, the results can lead to panic and paralysis. These conditions lead to increased fear, additional downsizing and protectionist actions that exacerbate the problem. Bad economic conditions produce bad economy...produce low morale...produce no risk-taking...produces bad economic conditions...etc. It is a death spiral without a forward agenda to motivate, inspire action. All the innovation (i.e., responsible risk-taking) gets squeezed out of the system...at precisely the same time it is needed.

Principle 2: The battle is an ECONOMIC one, not necessarily military.

Although the attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent apparent biological warfare, we must not forget that the military response is only part of the solution. The heart of was the invasion is on the financial capital of the world and the supporting infrastructure. The damage to human life is evident; the real damage to the quality of life is incalculable: the numbers unemployed, the stagnation of investment, the damage to small, medium and large-scale enterprises across every industry, and the loss of world trade - all have implications far beyond the boundaries of the United States.

Principle 3: KNOWLEDGE (not technology) is the engine of economic prosperity.

We now know that knowledge - in the form of ‘intellectual capital’ - is the most precious resource to be managed; and unlike land, labor and financial capital, it is an asset that multiplies. It is the one resource - in coordination with environmental conditions - that leads to the prosperity of a company or a country. The Knowledge Economy - as opposed to a digital or information economy - affords us a human and humane agenda within which the potential of every person is valued. It is the agenda that had leveled the playing field and enabled all nations - developing and industrialized - to envision modern management policies and practices. Knowledge - in the form of imagination coupled with action - is what enables us to envision a world that doesn’t yet exist.

Principle 4: INNOVATION is the process by which knowledge is created and harnessed.

If knowledge - embedded in the learning capacities of people - is the resource to be managed, then innovation is the process whereby visions are realized. According to Peter F. Drucker, it is the one competence for the future. Therefore, innovation strategy - developing the capability to create, share and apply knowledge - is a process that should not be left to serendipity. Innovation operates on all three economic levels: the profitability or prosperity of an enterprise (micro-economic), the vitality of a nation’s economy (meso-economic) and the advancement of society (macro-economic). It is the one process around which can be created a common language and a shared vision.

Principle 5: Any national strategy must be international and COLLABORATIVE in scope.

Although there are definite implementation boundaries, no strategy - even one for National Defense - can be developed as an ‘island’ in this global economy. We have too much to learn from one another as a way of dealing with the inevitable complexities and uncertainties. The days of developing competitive advantage may finally be dead. Instead, nations will discover ways to leverage the uniqueness of their heritage and culture with strategies to develop new, better standards of excellence. With 9/11, we have an opportunity to shape the vision: "We are building a new economic world order based upon knowledge, innovation, stakeholder success and international collaboration; and this is the platform for world peace, nothing less." (Amidon, 1/20/99)

Before responding you might like to revisit the material from where much of this language came, go to the interview summary found in the Global Momentum of Knowledge Strategy and the 5 MetaViews. You might even be encouraged by the analysis done of the Knowledge Millennium Generation. Now the Global Knowledge Leadership Map includes 100 from 50 nations…and growing!

And so, let us know your own reflections and insights. Perhaps the time has come for our collective voice to be heard.

Always in your Network,


1 “Kaleidoscopic Dynamics,” Chapter 2, Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening (1997).


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