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The Pros and Cons of Network Centric Organization -- An Empirical Investigation

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In environments that demand a high degree of flexibility together with rapid and accurate decision-making, network centric command structures have been promoted as “the” organizational solution to meet these demands. Network centric command structures, arguably, enhance the situation awareness and the understanding of the situation. However, our results show that a network centric organization does not necessarily lead to higher perceived situation awareness or better understanding of the situation. In fact, we found evidence of the opposite. Our results indicate that operational and tactical command levels tended to perceive the success and effectiveness of the operation significantly different, and in particular as the structure shifted from a hierarchical structure to a network structure. The cause may be the removal of the buffering and delegation principles that the hierarchical command structure holds. In addition, the self-synchronization processes required in the network structure, seemingly pose a heavy load on the information processing capacities of the tactical level decision makers. While our preliminary findings are in contrast to contemporary writings on the organization of military operations, they still make sense in light of basic theories on information processing in organizations. A main impression from this set of experiments is that many aspects of human interaction have to be managed before a network centric structure may give a full range of benefits in operations. The Pros and Cons of Network Centric Organization -- An Empirical Investigation. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256093970_The_Pros_and_Cons_of_Network_Centric_Organization_--_An_Empirical_Investigation [accessed Apr 10 2018].
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11th ICCRTS
COALITION COMMAND AND CONTROL IN THE NETWORKED ERA
The Pros and Cons of Network Centric Organization
– An Empirical Investigation
Bjørn T. Bakken (POC)
Norwegian Defence Leadership Institute
Oslo Mil / Akershus
NO-0015 Oslo
Norway
Email: btbakken@fil.mil.no
Phone: +47 90196149
Fax: +47 230973771
Thorvald Haerem
Norwegian School of Management
Nydalsveien 37
NO-0442 Oslo
Norway
Morten Ruud
Norwegian Defence Leadership Institute
Oslo Mil / Akershus
NO-0015 Oslo
Norway
Laila Frotjold
SIKT AS
P.O. Box 246
NO-5751 Odda
Norway
Sections
C2 Concepts and Organizations – Network-Centric Metrics – Cognitive Domain Issues
1
Bakken, Haerem, Ruud, Frotjold: The Pros and Cons of Network Centric Organization
– An Empirical Investigation
Abstract
In environments that demand a high degree of flexibility together with rapid and accurate
decision-making, network centric command structures have been promoted as “the”
organizational solution to meet these demands. Network centric command structures,
arguably, enhance the situation awareness and the understanding of the situation. However,
our results show that a network centric organization does not necessarily lead to higher
perceived situation awareness or better understanding of the situation. In fact, we found
evidence of the opposite.
Our results indicate that operational and tactical command levels tended to perceive the
success and effectiveness of the operation significantly different, and in particular as the
structure shifted from a hierarchical structure to a network structure. The cause may be the
removal of the buffering and delegation principles that the hierarchical command structure
holds. In addition, the self-synchronization processes required in the network structure,
seemingly pose a heavy load on the information processing capacities of the tactical level
decision makers.
While our preliminary findings are in contrast to contemporary writings on the organization of
military operations, they still make sense in light of basic theories on information processing
in organizations. A main impression from this set of experiments is that many aspects of
human interaction have to be managed before a network centric structure may give a full
range of benefits in operations.
2
The Pros and Cons of Network Centric Organization – An Empirical Investigation
INTRODUCTION
The types of threats facing defence organizations have changed radically over the last couple
of decades. The change from the threats of the cold war to the threats of asymmetric warfare
together with the technological changes in effectors, sensors and tools for decision support
raises the question of whether the traditional hierarchical structures of the past are appropriate
structures for the future.
Organizational theory agree that the specific changes in the environment combined with the
changes in technology, i.e., the ways operations are run, provide good reasons to question the
traditional ways to organize (e.g. Scott, 2003; Thompson, 1967). In light of these
developments, the network structure of organizing has been advocated as providing several
favourable opportunities and properties. In short, military strategists propose that the network
organization is a more appropriate way to organize modern operations, than the hierarchical
organization (e.g., Alberts et al., 2001). The fundamental question of hierarchy versus
network raises several associated questions. Two such questions have been mentioned in
particular: First, the role of visualization technologies and second; the role of communication
technologies and amount of information.
We have developed a research model to test the relationship between organization structure
(hierarchy versus network) and performance. This model also allows investigating whether
the effect of the organizational structure, i.e. hierarchy versus network, is different between
organizational levels, i.e. the operational and tactical. In addition to the aspect of effectiveness
we have included two factors we have assumed to mediate the effect of organizational
structure, namely situation awareness and perceived task complexity. More models and
relationships are designed and proposed for future experiments and investigations of the
interplay of human factors in a network centric defence organization. To support
experimentation, the NCW Learning Lab was designed, implemented, tested and set in
production during 2003-2005 (Bakken, Ruud & Johannessen, 2004).
METHODOLOGY
The experimental study was supported by the NCW Learning Lab, a simulation environment
that allows the operation of an entire multi-level command system. The inclusion of more
than one level introduces opportunities to investigate relationships that to our knowledge have
not been studied in such semi-controlled environments that a research simulator represents.
More specifically, the NCW Learning Lab supports the manipulation of organizational
structure, for example in term of hierarchical and network structures. We were therefore able
to design studies that investigate the effect of organizational structure on both an operational
and tactical level. The lab also supports investigation of the influence of technological factors,
such as use of different communication media and visualization tools. The NCW Learning
Lab is described in more detail in Appendices B (gaming procedure) and C (software
architecture).
3
The data for this first study was collected from 79 respondents, 9 % women and 91 % men.
All the respondents were enrolled in military activities associated with the Norwegian
Defence. To elaborate; the participants served in the Army (51.2 %), the Navy (41.9%) and
the Air Force (7%). In total, the data was collected from six main runs of experiments during
20051.
OPERATIONALIZATION
Network and hierarchy can be distinguished by the nature of the communication structure in
an organization. Thus structure can be operationalized as ways of observing the
communication channels available for each unit of the structure (Hansen, 1999). The
dimension of authority, as a distinguishing factor of each organizational structure, has been
described in ways of assigning the nature of authority vested in each unit (Stinchcombe,
1959).
In an experimental setting these variables are possible to manipulate in order to test their
respective relevance for performing tasks that requires collaboration within a group. In an
experimental setting, centralized or decentralized communication channels might define the
organizational type (Guetzkow & Simon, 1955).
Furthermore, the organization structure may be obtained through either observation, self-
report or by paying attention to the perception of individuals of authority relationships. Katz
and Kahn’s (1978) concept of perception of authority structure might give guidelines for
making an instrument and obtaining data on perceived authority. According to their theory,
organizations have different degrees of hierarchy that are determined by the level of
differences of perceived and objective control among people on different levels of the
organization. If there is a higher difference in control, a hierarchy exists.
In the experimental settings in the NCW Learning Lab, organization structure is manipulated
in order to test influence or organization structure on task performance. The NCW Learning
Lab allows manipulating command systems in terms of hierarchy and network structures.
In the experiment, the operationalization of organizational structures is done through the
manipulation of communication channels.
Six scenarios were conducted. Preceding the scenarios, the participants where told by the staff
what kind of communication structure they were allowed to use. In three scenarios, the
participants were told that the communication structure was centralized, meaning that the
communication between headquarters at different levels had to follow the hierarchical
communication lines. No verbal communication was allowed. Whereas in the three other
scenarios, following network structures, the players where told that communication among all
players were legitimated and indeed encouraged. The different communication structures used
are illustrated conceptually in figures 1 and 2 below.
1 Detailed documentation of the experiments: theory base, design, measures, procedures and results are found in
Haerem, Bakken and Myrseth (eds.) 2006: Human Aspects of Decision Making in Network Centric
Organization. Research Report, Norwegian School of Management (Oslo) / Norwegian Defence Leadership
Institute (Oslo) / Norwegian Battle Lab and Experimentation (Stavanger / Bodoe).
4
igure 1: Hierarchical command structure (communication strictly along vertical lines)
igure 2: Command structure networked on tactical-operational levels (“all-to-all”)
Strategic
command
Operational
HQ 1 Operational
HQ 2
Tactical
unit 1A Tactical
unit 1B Tactical
unit 2A
Tactical
unit 2B
Strategic
command
Operational
HQ 1 Operational
HQ 2
Tactical
unit 1A Tactical
unit 1B Tactical
unit 2A
Tactical
unit 2B
F
Strategic
command
F
Operational
HQ 1 Operational
HQ 2
Tactical
unit 1A
Tactical
unit 1B Tactical
unit 2A
Tactical
unit 2B
Strategic
command
Tactical
unit 1A Tactical
unit 2B
Operational
HQ 1 Operational
HQ 2
Tactical
unit 1B Tactical
unit 2A
5
RESEARCH MODEL
We have developed a research model that contains relationships between organization model
(hierarchy vs. network), and level in command system (operational or tactical), as
independent, interacting variables. These variables affect perceived situation awareness and
perceived task analyzability as intermediate variables that in turn affect operational outcome.
The outcome variable is a compound of speed in the operation, information sharing, success
in the operation, and effectiveness in the operation. All the components of “outcome” are
currently operationalized as perceived2, that is, participants themselves assess them by
responding to questionnaires (see Appendix A for questionnaire items relating to perceived
outcome).
Hierarchy
vs.
Network
Level in
Command
System Perceived
Situation
Awareness
Perceived
Task
Analyzability
Outcome:
Speed
Info sharing
Success
Effectiveness
Figure 3. Research model
In accordance with reviewed literature, our hypotheses state that network structure contributes
to better/higher:
Situation awareness
Analyzability of the task
Speed in operations
Information sharing
Degree of success
Degree of effectiveness
… as opposed to the hierarchical structure.
2 For details on operationalizations, see Haerem, Bakken and Myrseth (eds.) 2006: Human Aspects of Decision
Making Network Centric Organization. Research Report, Norwegian School of Management (Oslo) / Norwegian
Defence Leadership Institute (Oslo) / Norwegian Battle Lab and Experimentation (Stavanger / Bodoe).
6
RESULTS
We have analyzed the relationship between command structure and the decision makers’
perceived situation awareness, task analyzability, speed in operations, information sharing,
effectiveness and success of the operation. We have also studied how this varies depending on
the level (operational vs. tactical) in the command structure. When interpreting these results it
is important to note that it is perceived measures of operation success, effectiveness, speed
and quality of information sharing which is applied, and not objective measures.
Direct Effects
The results of the Multiple Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) shows that the structure of the
command system influences the situation awareness and task analyzability significantly
(p=.02), while the level of the command system does not seem to have any significant
influence. This is illustrated in figures 4 and 5 below.
Level:
Operational
Tactical
Hiera rchy Network
Perceived Situation Awareness
Figure 4: Perceived situation awareness as a function of command structure and level
Level:
Operation
a
Tactical
Hierarchy Network
Task Analyzability
7
Figure 5: Task analyzability as a function of command structure and level.
The results furthermore show that structure has a significant influence (p=.05) on speed,
information sharing and perceived success. Level in the command structure seems, based on
this analysis, not to have an effect (p=.75). But, as we shall see from the analysis of the
interaction effects below, the effects of the tactical and operational level are opposite of each
other and thereby cancel out the direct effect.
The first main result is the significant difference between the hierarchical command structure
and the network centric command structure, when it comes to perceived situation awareness
and perceived task analyzability. Both measures scored higher in the hierarchical structure
than in the network structure both on the operational and tactical level.
These findings do find some support in the research stream viewing organizations as
information processing systems, although the findings contradict some of the popular writings
n the virtuosity of network centric organizations. In a hierarchical command structure the
and clearly
are equally ion
analyzability is significantly lower in the
o
tasks and responsibilities of each unit and role within each unit is delimited
efined. The communication lines between units, superiors and subordinatesd
clearly defined. This is in contrast to a network organization which stimulates task resolut
processes and resource dispositions on a tactical level, between tactical units and actors, to
facilitate quick response to unexpected situations. Such self-synchronization on the tactical
level generates high demands for information processing and problem resolution. Together
with time pressure and other stress factors these conditions are likely to produce increased
erceived uncertainty. Although the perceivedp
network centric command structure, it is interesting to note that the “objective” uncertainty is
constant since the scenario is constant. This indicates that the organization structure also
influences the perception of uncertainty in operations.
8
Interaction Effects
There is a difference in the perception of speed, and quality in the information sharing
between the operational and tactical level under the network structure. There is no such
difference under the hierarchical command structure. Tactical level perceives the speed in the
operation as higher, and the information sharing as better than the operational level does. This
is in line with main stream theory which argues that a network structure opens for direct
communication lines between the actors and reduces the amount of bottlenecks which easily
arises in a hierarchical structure. However, this difference is not statistically significant with
the sample size we have.
igures 6/7. Interaction effects of command structure and level on speed & information
n average, there is no difference in the perception of success and effectiveness under the two
el
Hierarchy Network
Level:
Operational
Tactical
S peed i n op eration
Hierarchy
Level:
Operational
Tactical
Netwo rk
In f o rma tio n
Sharing
F
sharing
O
command structures. But, there is a surprising difference in the perception of the success
between the two levels in the command structure. In the network structure, operational lev
perceived the degree of success as significantly higher compared to the tactical level. In the
hierarchical structure there were only marginal differences: The perceptions of the
9
effectiveness in operations follow the same overall pattern, but the differences are n
significant.
ot
igures 8/9. Interaction effects of command structure and level on success & effectiveness in
perations
ne might want to explain the drop in perceived success at the tactical level with the drop in
erceived situation awareness and task analyzability. However, the drop in perceived situation
tructure encourages the
ctical level to take responsibility for the problems that arise, not only in their own unit, but
ct
and
ot
F
o
O
p
awareness and task analyzability is also found on the operational level, which perceives an
increase in success. Equally troubling is that the tactical level, in contrast to the operational
level, perceives an increase in speed and quality of information sharing, which one might
assume would lead to an increased sense of control and success.
The best explanation we have for this finding is that the network s
ta
in other units as well. The hierarchical mechanisms, which buffer each individual from dire
negotiation with other units about assistance and request for resources, serve to reduce
uncertainty, focus attention and sets clear criteria for success or failure. In hierarchical
command structures it is the operational level that is supposed to handle the uncertainty
define clear orders for the tactical level. The network centric command structure does n
have this information processing property. In the network structure the tactical level receives
direct requests from other tactical units about assistance and other issues that require
Hierarchy Network
Level:
Operational
Tactical
Success in operations
Hierarchy Network
Level:
Operational
Tactical
Effectivenes s in operations
10
coordination. These findings also find support in studies of command and control at the Team
Effectiveness Lab at Michigan State University (Moon et al., 2003).
In this respect we may say that the network structure requires self-synchronization on the
ctical level. Self-synchronization, in the sense of network coordination, introduces both y
uccess in the network structure may
e caused by the same mechanism. If it is so that the tactical level takes on responsibility to
CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER WORK
In environments which h rapid and accurate
ecision-making, network centric command structures have been promoted as “the”
come.
n
is the indications given by the preliminary results.
ur findings are in contrast to contemporary writings on the organization of military in
n
eive the
uccess and effectiveness of the operation significantly different, and in particular as the e
e
e about such relationships will have great practical relevance for the
evelopment and improvements of existing concepts of operations, planning processes, d
ta
complexity and uncertainty on the tactical level. One reason to lower perceived success ma
be that others’ problems become vivid to the units and individuals on the tactical level and
that these problems become every unit’s responsibility. This is very different from the way
responsibility is delegated in the hierarchical structure.
That the operational level perceives a higher degree of s
b
handle the situations as they emerge by self-synchronization, then the operational level may
perceive fewer requests for resources to handle unexpected difficulties.
demand a high degree of flexibility together wit
d
organizational solution to meet these demands. Our objective was foremost to contribute to a
methodological platform for experimentation with command concepts in the years to
The measurement instruments developed and reported above have been found valid and
reliable (Harem, Bakken, & Myrseth, 2006). This set of instruments and manipulations,
including the NCW Learning Lab, allows us to efficiently capture central aspects of huma
aspects of decision-making in future experiments. Hence, we have contributed to a good
foundation for future experimentation.
The practical importance of this project
O
operations. But the findings make sense in light of basic theories on information processing
organizations. Network centric command structures are argued to enhance the situatio
awareness and the understanding of the situation. But our results show that a network centric
organization does not necessarily lead to higher perceived situation awareness or better
understanding of the situation. In fact, the data show the opposite relationship.
Our results indicate that operational and tactical command levels tended to perc
s
structure shifted from a hierarchical structure to a network structure. The cause may be th
removal of the buffering and delegation principles that the hierarchical command structur
holds. In addition, the self-synchronization processes required in the network structure,
seemingly pose a heavy load on the information processing capacities of the tactical level
decision makers.
Gaining knowledg
d
command structures, in addition to the understanding of intention based management an
improvements in decision-making on an individual, social and organizational level.
11
The results from this series of experiments indicate that Network Centric Warfare (NCW)
different and difficult demands on the decision makers in such a command structure. sets
A main
pression from this series of experiments is that many aspects of human interaction have to im
be managed before a network centric structure may give benefits in operations. Further
experiments are necessary to evaluate the robustness of the relationships uncovered in the
experiments performed in 2005. Until stronger evidence is established we have to settle for
these humble speculations.
12
REFERENCES
Alberts, S., Garstka, D., Hayes, J.J., Richard, E. & Signori, D.A. 2001. Understanding
information age warfare. CCRP Publication Series.
Bakken, B.T., Ruud, M., Johannessen, S. 2004. The System Dynamics Approach to Network
Centric Warfare and Effects Based Operations - Designing a "Learning Lab" for
Tomorrow's Military Operations. Presented at the 22nd International Conference of the
System Dynamics Society, Oxford.
Brehmer, B. 2000. Dynamic Decision Making in Command and Control. In McCann &
Pigeau. The Human in Command: Exploring the Modern Military Experience. Kleuwer, New
York.
Brehmer, B. 2002. Learning to control a dynamic system. Unpublished manuscript, Swedish
National Defence College, Stockholm.
Guetzkow, H., & Simon, H. A.1955. The impact of certain communication nets upon
organization and performance in task-oriented groups. Management Science, 1:233-250.
Haerem, T., Bakken, B., & Myrseth, H.P. (eds.) 2006: Human Aspects of Network Centric
Organization. Research Report, Norwegian School of Management (Oslo) / Norwegian
Defence Leadership Institute (Oslo) / Norwegian Battle Lab and Experimentation (Stavanger /
Bodoe).
Hansen, M.T. 1999. The search-transfer problem: The role of weak ties in sharing knowledge
across organization subunits. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44: 82-111.
Katz, D., & Kahn, R.L. 1978. The social psychology of organizations. New York: John
Wiley & Sons.
Moon, H.et al. (2004). Assymetric Adaptability: Dynamic Team Structures as One-Way
Streets. Academy of Management Journal, 47(4): 681-695.
Perrow, C. 1967. A framework for the comparative analysis of organizations. American
Sociological Review, 32: 194-208.
Scott, R.W. 2003. Organization, rational natural and open systems. Upper Sadle River: New
Jersey.
Stinchcombe, A.L. 1959. Bureaucratic and craft administration of production: A comparative
study. Administrative Science Quarterly, 168-187.
Thomson, J.D. 1967. Organizations in action. New York: McGRaw-Hill.
13
APPENDIX A: Measures of Outcome3
Operational effectiveness of military operations, according to Alberts et al. (2001), is
impacted by several key concepts and the relationship between them. Some of the key
concepts he mentions are; awareness, shared awareness, collaborative planning, and
synchronized actions.
To elaborate, it is stated that in network-centric operations, the power of the network is
manifested by increased richness through increased reach, increased shared awareness and
improved collaboration. Increased richness through increased reach refers to that networks
enable information richness to be increased by enabling information from multiple sources to
be shared, correlated and accessed. Increased shared awareness, on the other hand, point to
that networks contribute to the generation of shared awareness by enabling richness to be
shared. Whereas, improved collaboration indicate that network enable information sharing
which transfer shared awareness into collaborative planning and synchronized actions that
create a competitive advantage.
Together, these processes increase the effectiveness of a military operation. Furthermore,
Alberts et al. (2001) emphasize that quality of interactions and speed in the operation are
hypothesized to influence operational outcome or what they refers to as degree of operational
success and force effectiveness and efficiency (Alberts et al., 2001).
Perceived Operational Effectiveness
We chose to measure perceived operational performance or effectiveness by developing
several items based on the concepts in Alberts et al. (2001). An exploratory factor analysis
was used in order to gather information about inter-correlations among the set of variables
The validity of the scale was tested by using a principal component analysis; the results are
shown in the table below. The Kaiser was sufficient, showing value beyond .7.
Items Components
Success Information
sharing Speed
,93
,82
,72
Success according to targets
Success according to intention
Effectuated a successful operation
Necessary quality of sources to information and
communication
Sources of information and communication have
contributed to distribution of information
Minimized risk
Effectuated within time limits
,84
,82
,73
,82
Table A1. Perceived Operational Performance; Success, Information Sharing and Speed.
Rotated Component Matrix. Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation
Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.
3 Adapted from Haerem et al. (2006).
14
APPENDIX B: NCW Learning Lab – Gaming Procedure
A session with NCW Learning Lab starts with the players reading the scenario description,
which is a narrative describing a fictitious or real security policy crisis situation. The scenario
is usually structured as follows: A background which describes history and events leading up
to the present situation, including any orders or directives issued by NATO, UNSC or other
national or international supreme command authority. Then the operations area (OA) is
defined, with borders of sea, land and air territories. The territory description usually names
geographical areas (nations, regions etc) that are included in the OA, and/or which border on
the OA. Lastly, the resources and capabilities available to resolve the crisis situation are listed
along with key characteristics such as their main function or role, transportation speed, sensor
coverage, combat power and the like.
Attached to the scenario is the mission and intent statements issued by the supreme command
(e.g., SACEUR in the case of an international crisis, or National Strategic Command in the
case of a national crisis). The intent defines (among others) the purpose and objectives of the
mission; the means or methods with which the crisis can be resolved; and the desired end
state. The mission and intent statements may be followed by a plan for “conduct of
operations”, which usually proceeds through four phases (example taken from a NATO led
and UN approved crisis response operation): 1. Preparation and deployment; 2. Establish and
maintain security; 3. Termination; 4. Redeployment. Success criteria for the mission may be
stated as “decisive points”, for example: reduced criminal activity; reduced para-military
activity; neutralization of threats to democratic process.
The mission may contain several tasks to be handled, tasks that may vary in complexity along
the variability and analyzability dimensions.
Examples of tasks are:
National force protection operation:
o Secure and protect military bases (against terrorist attacks)
o Prepare and execute escort operations of allied vessels
o Protect national waters against border violation
o Prevent resource crimes (e.g., illegal fishing)
International crisis response operation:
o Establish and maintain security in deployment areas
o Contain ethnic violence
o Collect illegal weapons
o Arrest persons indicted for war-crimes
o Reduce smuggling of weapons and drugs
The tasks may be presented sequentially to the players in a pre-programmed manner, or may
“emerge” as a function of actions and events occurring through the course of a game. Usually,
the tasks are a combination of pre-programmed and emerging. Even though the initial
situation may be identical between sessions, the actual flow of events may take completely
different turns, making several instances of the same scenario appear quite different.
It follows logically that the “stream” of tasks that constitute the crisis situation may occur
relatively frequently (high variability) or infrequently (low variability). Likewise, the tasks
15
may differ in the degree of analyzability, i.e., whether they may be solved with well-known
procedures and methods, or whether a solution is not well known. This classification follows
the framework developed by Perrow (1967).
A game with NCW Learning Lab is usually played with a group of players forming a
command organization (see figures 1 and 2 in main text for example illustrations).
The lowest layer of the command chain always controls the actual resources (military forces
and other objects representing capabilities) that move within the operations area to
accomplish the tasks that have to be solved; whether pre-programmed or emerging. The
remaining (higher-level) layers are indirectly commanding the forces by issuing plans, orders,
directives and Rules of Engagement (ROE).
The surface complexity of a task is represented by its appearance to the player as presented by
the user interface and the mechanisms for directing objects on the geographical “surface” to
resolve the task. In addition come various indicators of status and progress, as well as a mail
system containing narrative information concerning tasks. Such narrative information may be
pre-programmed by the scenario designer, or ad-hoc messages written by actual co-players.
The deep complexity of a task concerns the relationships between actions that may be taken to
resolve the task, and outcome as a function of how the task has been handled. The most
general outcome property of a task is the degree to which its resolution contributes to
achieving goals defined at superior levels of command. At the most abstract level, this is a
question of escalation or de-escalation of the situation (meaning that the crisis situations
worsens or improves due to actions taken, respectively). Matters are complicated when a
short-term improvement in the situation may be followed by a long-term worsening, or vice
versa. Thus, the player in command, when confronted with a task, must ask him/herself three
questions to guide the decision-making process:
To what degree will the resolution of this task contribute to (long-term) de-escalation
of the crisis?
What resources are needed to resolve the task?
Are the resources available (at an acceptable cost)?
Figure B1: Military officers interact with the NCW Learning Lab using the CODS (Common
Operational Decision System) flatbed high-resolution display.
16
APPENDIX C: NCW Learning Lab – Software Architecture4
The current version of NCW Learning Lab is built around the MindLab framework developed
by SIKT AS (Odda, Norway). The MindLab architecture consists of four main components: a
simulation model, a database, simulation server architecture, and the user interface. Different
simulation models can be used, the only requirement is an implementation of a general
interface for communication with the server. Similarly, different clients can be used, given
that they adhere to the xml-based communication protocol defined by the server. The use of a
database is optional, but typically provides a convenient way to initialise the model with
different parameters.
This way, one can easily apply different parameter sets to different games. Figure C1
illustrates the concept. The current database also contains other data, such as logging of user
activity and results obtained by the different users. The applicability of these features
naturally depends on the model in question and on the interests of the model designer.
A feature recently included in the server part of the architecture is a questionnaire component
that allows modellers to “pop up” questionnaires to the user at specific times of model
execution. The answers provided by the user are then stored in the database, and form basis
for Situation Awareness metrics.
The server currently only supports use of AnyLogic simulation models. Support for Powersim
and Vensim models are planned, and such support can be implemented as the need for it
arises. In order to make a simulation model adaptable to the system, it needs to implement a
generic interface that the server can use for communication. As AnyLogic is Java-based, this
implementation is rather straight-forward, because the model itself can implement the
interface. For other simulation technologies however, a Java-based communication-layer
needs to be constructed.
Figure C1: The MindLab architecture
4 Text and illustrations provided by SIKT AS.
17
Figure C2: Sample screen-shot of user interface
18
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Armed with a general understanding of the concepts of Information Superiority and Network Centric Warfare, enterprising individuals and organizations are developing new ways of accomplishing their missions by leveraging the power of information and applying network centric concepts. Visions are being created and significant progress is being made. But to date we have been only scratching the surface of what is possible.
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Decision making is a central aspect of command and control, yet it has received very little systematic study. One reason for this neglect may be the lack of a conceptual framework with which to guide research. This chapter presents an initial attempt to develop such a framework, one that has been inspired by a frequently cited quotation from the elder Moltke, a well-known 19th-century military commander (Hughes, 1993). Simpkin (1985) provides what I believe is the best interpretation of Moltke’s viewpoint: Moltke maintained that the operational plan should seek to insure that the first contact between the main bodies occurred under the most favourable circumstances possible, and that “no plan survive[s] contact ” After this, it was a matter of responsiveness and opportunism (p 14) The quote suggests two different kinds of military decision making. The first one, planning, is clear enough. But what happens once the plan is put in place, and contact is initiated with the enemy? I propose that at this point, the form of control changes. Specifically, it changes from feedforward control (by means of the plan) to feedback control—where the military must respond to the enemy’s response to its actions. The decision task now becomes dynamic. Viewing command and control from this new perspective—that is, as dynamic decision making—might give us some insights.
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