A spot of gardening was just what I needed yesterday to clear my head. Focusing on what is growing around us rather than what is dying. Now, with clear thought of mind, I am reflecting on just that question, what is growing and what is the link between the rise in terrorism and the changes I’m noticing elsewhere in the economy and society.
Common Objective: Terrorists 1 – Europe 0
I do not want this blog to shine a positive light on what is a very sick organisation, but having cleared my head, I see multiple links between terrorist organisations and the subject of collaboration. The goal is a negative one, from our perspective, but the way in which they go about it is something we should be looking to learn from and here is why…..
Over the course of the last year, my blogs have tried to articulate what I believe to be many of the key enablers to a more collaborative society and economy. Perhaps the most important amongst them is the existence of a “common objective”. It seems to me that this is very much the case for them. Kill “infidels”.
Despite the fact that their interpretation of what they claim to defend is highly manipulated and sick, it is certainly succeeding in attracting others to their cause. In contrast, if you look at the current state of the EU this is something which is much less apparent. We all agree on the need to “defeat” them but find it very difficult to collaborate to achieve this goal as national and individual interests prevail.
They enforce their “common objective” through fear. In my mind, this is not collaboration at all. While the UN bicker and debate over how to collaborate, they give orders and for those who follow this “common objective”, they execute with remarkable speed and effectiveness. We don’t enforce anything. What if the UN said to Russia, get in line behind what the rest of the world clearly feels is needed to reverse the situation in Syria or you are out. What would that change?
Decentralisation: Terrorists 2 – Europe 0
The second key point I have been making over the course of the last year is that the ability of mobilise decentralised resources is also a key factor. I am not in counter-intelligence and therefore cannot confirm to what degree decision making is decentralised with terrorists. My very humble opinion is that there seems to be lots and lots of fairly independent cells, all bound by the “common objective” but with sufficient freedom to be able to act in defense of that objective. Again, another sickening irony. By the time UN or Nato troops get deployed anywhere, the damage is very often already done. It is a glaring example of the difference between decision making within hierarchies and empowering decentralised resources.
Community: Terrorists 3 – Europe 1
Unfortunately, these guys are doing very well with this element also. Even after Salah got captured the other day, just a few streets away from where he lived, there were lots of people out on the streets throwing stones at the police. Clearly some of them must have been involved in harbouring him over the last few months as well. Despite the obvious danger to them in being implicated in hiding a dangerous fugitive, they did it none the less. The book “Ego to Eco” describes the need for us to move from having our own interests on top to having that of the common good or community in this case. These people clearly have already made that transition and are willing to sacrifice themselves to help others within their community.
I’ve generously given Europe a goal here also. Once the shit hits the fan and we have a big problem like yesterday, we are a very strong community. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to last and we revert to national interests until the next crisis.
Impact: Terrorists 4 – Europe 1
I advise start-ups and companies on how to build “common goals” and leverage “decentralised” resources to achieve them. I do so as I believe that when the goal is a positive one, the impact can be much greater. The same is obviously true when the goals are negative.
Brussels is yet again in shutdown. Armed police at schools, army deployed, billions of euros in damage and lost business and many people living in fear. That is a lot of impact which at the end of the day, very very few people, have been at the source of creating. We are over 7 billion on this planet but it only takes a few hundred or a few thousand to bring us to our knees.
In contrast, the impact Europe has been able to have on the situation in Syria seems negligible in comparison, particularly given the fact that the resources we have are far greater than them.
So when it comes to common objectives, using decentralised resources, leveraging communities and creating impact, it’s a one-sided match. I feel like a frustrated fan watching my team with huge resources getting their ass kicked by a far weaker side. I’m thinking to myself, what can we learn from them?
Let’s not adopt their strategy of enforcing “collaboration” as I believe that ultimately there are limits to this method. On the other hand, let’s use collaboration as a tool to fight them. The starting point is to accept that the defeat of terrorists is more important that personal and national interests. We may need to do some unpopular things.
I would like to finish with my favourite clip from my favourite film as it reflects very much my philosophy in life. Get busy living rather than get busy dying (Shawshank Redemption)