2010 - the year for revolutionary change in intelligence?

In the US, the sometimes naive, but always simplistic and politically motivated blame game for missing the failed Christmas Day attack is in full swing. And flogging the analysts at the NCTC seems so easy when you have perfect hindsight! The reality is however that it is impossible for analysts to perform at peak level while the bureaucrats and political appointees fight their turf wars, when there is no agreed protocol on information sharing and when the political will lacks to implement reforms that will make intelligence better. (We here in sunny SA and elsewhere in the world face the same problems, luckily for us with less media coverage!)
Incidents like this makes one realize that evolutionary change in the global and local intelligence community is still too slow. Maybe the likely threat of similar and worse attacks might prompt all intelligence managers and officers the world over to realize that 2010 might offer us a rare opportunity to tackle the complex challenges and weaknesses head-on. But to tackle the issues in the same familiar way will yield the same sad results.
We all know that the intel organizations need to become leaner, flatter, networked, sharing across boundaries, fostering trusting relationships between different command levels, between the investigator and the analyst, between the client and the intel professionals..But how? One way might be to change the way we understand and look at the intelligence organization in these turbulent times.
Director Blair said in his statement that the US IC is "an adaptive, learning organization. We can and must outthink, outwork, and defeat the enemy's new ideas." (Sounds like we might be expecting a new Survivor series!)
This is the first time I'm aware that intelligence leadership have used "adaptive" and "learning organization" in an important message like this one. Only a few scholars and professionals have looked at applying the theories of the complex adaptive system to the intelligence organization. The best is Prof Phil Williams with his take on Complex Adaptive Systems and terrorism. I'm a big fan of Alex and David Bennet's book Organizational survival in the New World: The Intelligent Complex Adaptive System. If you don't have the time for the whole book, look at a 22-page synopsis of the book. Their more recent work focuses on decision making in Complex Adaptive Messes (aha!! sounds familiar?!) They say that "a considerable amount of “new learning” may be involved in rethinking the perspectives of what the organization really is, what complexity means, and how to orchestrate a change in behavior. While learning and understanding are the first step, next comes changing behavior, changing modes of thinking, and changing how you approach problems, which are equally important, and often more difficult. The decision to put resources and time into creating a solution strategy and team which has the capability of quick reaction, flexibility, resilience, robustness, adaptability, etc., is a very tough question for leaders and managers who think predominantly in terms of the bottom line and are unfamiliar with the potential ramifications of complex problems."
I hope that my forthcoming thesis (to be published in March 2010) might help us to better understand the difficulties in managing and leading the "intelligence revolution". Will keep you posted...