Warnings for the U.S. military about innovation and the information age: The Pentagon looks like a minicomputer firm
Here I want to focus on Michael Horowitz’s warnings for the U.S. military in his book The Diffusion of Military Power. They include these:
“The information age may portend a much greater level of risk for U.S. conventional military superiority than some previous authors have envisioned.”
Don’t get too comfortable just because you enjoy current dominance. Horowitz cites the example of Digital Equipment Corporation, which was a power in minicomputers, but failed to understand the emergence of the personal computer market. It had the resources, but lacked the imagination, and so failed to deal with changes in the environment — I would say a bit like our national security leaders in September 2001.
A great danger, especially for mature organizations such as the U.S. military, is investing in “incremental improvements to the last great thing, rather than the next great thing.” So don’t confuse innovations that enhance your current way of doing business with innovations that may require a new way of doing business — but may also produce much greater gains.
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