View Full Version : Strategic Communicaition: Org'z'l Challenge

Ed Jewett
03-09-2010, 10:26 PM
Strategic Communication: The Organizational Challenge (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/)

A strong case can be made that contemporary strategic communications, as ‘synchronized coordination of statecraft, public affairs, public diplomacy, military information operations, and other activities’[1] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftn1), is failing to achieve its potential at the national level due to organizational failings as well as problems within its constituent parts.
Yet, there are specific areas which are immediately recognised as impediments, notably organizational and managerial issues. At a major US-UK conference in late 2005, examining information effects in counter-insurgency and stability operations, senior military and civilian personnel rounded upon the managerial aspects of communications and information:
Participants concurred that “we should all work together,” but recognized that strong organizational challenges remain. Participants agreed that the military needs clear strategic guidance on the proposed end-state and overall information strategy to effectively fight the informational fight. However, this strategic vision sometimes has been lacking, which has meant that, by default, the military was shaping policy through its actions on the ground. Many also thought that overall coordination mechanisms are lacking.[2] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftn2)
http://cb3blog.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/sc-orchestra.jpg?w=450&h=337 (http://cb3blog.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/sc-orchestra.jpg)Do fancy diagrams like this really address the organizational challenge?

Organizational structure and managerial capabilities in civil-military interventions may be seen as being hampering the communication function through their functionality being framed through an industrial warfare perspective:
[T]he traditional kinetic focus of U.S. military operations often jeopardizes communication-based shaping efforts. U.S. forces are trained primarily for kinetic operations and inflicting casualties on an enemy, not for shaping noncombatant attitudes. Both force structure and mind-set can be incompatible with shaping goals.[3] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftn3)
US military doctrine is pervasive throughout most militaries operating in multi-lateral civil-military interventions and thus structures, management and ethos are often replicated.
Corncerns over organizational and managerial issues at the senior levels of strategic communication, have also been raised before. Once again taking the US example, the DSB reported in 2008:
Nevertheless, the task force finds reasons for continued concern. Positive changes within organizations are real, but they depend to a considerable extent on the skills and imagination of current leaders. These changes must be evaluated, and those that work should be institutionalized. Resistance from traditional organizational cultures continues. Resources for strategic communication have increased, but they fall substantially short of national needs. This task force’s primary concern is that fundamental transformation in strategic communication has not occurred at the strategic and interagency level.[4] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftn4)
Within this management challenge is the continuing top-down management processes within the foreign policy process, out of kilter with the contemporary information environment. Faced with a rapidly changing environment, with regard to public diplomacy, Cull claims:
none of these changes is as challenging as the reorientation of public diplomacy away from the top-down communication patterns of the Cold War era[5] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftn5)
Equally, the continuing disconnect between communication efforts and policy, also present an organizational and managerial challenge. This is nothing new, as Edward R Murrow pointed out in the 1960s, famously claiming that communication personnel had to be ‘in on the take-offs of policy’ if it was going to be expected to be ‘in on the crash landings’. As Cull, re-iterates:
[T]he most important link in any public diplomacy structure is that which connects ‘listening’ to policy-making and ensures that foreign opinion is weighed in the foreign policy process.[6] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftn6)
It is therefore seen that there are problems within multilateral communications and many of these are attributed to managerial and organizational issues. An examinination of those specific organizational and managerial aspects of multilateral communicative efforts during civil-military foreign policy interventions is well overdue. This work would not be done without precedent; much has been done in the corporate world, but there is little evidence of deep analysis of communications management or organization against the backdrop of corporate lessons learnt.
[1] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftnref1) Jones,J. B., “Strategic Communication: A Mandate for the United States,” Joint Forces Quarterly, Issue Thirty-nine (Fourth Quarter 2005), p. 109.
[2] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftnref2) Collings, D. & Rohozinski, R., “Shifting Fire: Information Effects in Counterinsurgency and Stability Operations” , US Army War College (2006), p.12
[3] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftnref3) Helmus, T.C., Paul, C. & Glenn, R.W. “Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation” , (2007), p.17
[4] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftnref4) US DoD, “Task Force on Strategic Communication: Report of the Defense Science Board”, (2008), p. xi-xii
[5] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftnref5) Cull, N., Public Diplomacy: Seven Lessons for its Future from its Past in “Engagement: Public Diplomacy in a Globalised World”, (2008), p. 25
[6] (http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/strategic-communication-the-organizational-challenge/#_ftnref6) Ibid (2008), p. 20

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CB3 Communications are specialists in issue and crisis management, strategic communications and public diplomacy, providing exclusive and bespoke communications services to public and private sector organizations operating in a turbulent geo-political international environment.

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What we’re reading

The following is a list of some of the publications which have informed CB3’s approach to communications:
‘Skyful of Lies’ and Black Swans: the new tyranny of shifing information power in crisis – Gowing, 2009
War 2.0 Irregular Warfare in the Information Age – Rid & Hecker, 2009
Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide – Jenkins, 2006
Marketing Warfare – Ries & Trout, 2006 (20th Anniversary Ed)
Risk Issues and Crisis Management – Regester & Larkin, 2005
Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation – RAND, 2007
The Utility of Force – Smith, 2006
A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas: From Simplistic Influence to Pragmatic Complexity – Corman, Trethewey & Goodall, 2007
Task Force on Strategic Communication: Report of the Defense Science Board – US DoD, 2008
The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy – Hill, 2005
The New Public Diplomacy – Melissen (Ed), 2005
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness – Thaler & Sunstein, 2008
Strategic Reputation Risk Management – Larkin, 2003
Excellent Public Relations and Effective Organizations – Grunig, Grunig & Dozier, 2002
Toxic Sludge is Good for You – Stauber & Rampton, 1995
Rethinking Public Relations – Moloney, 2006
Integrating Instruments of Power and Influence in National Security: Starting the Dialogue – RAND, 2006
Human Terrain Team Handbook – Human Terrain System, 2008
Changing the Army for Counter Insurgency Operations – Alwyn-Foster, Military Review, Nov-DEc 2005
Public Diplomacy – Leonard, Foreign Policy Centre, 2002
Discourse Norms in Public Diplomacy: Necessary and Artificial Faultlines – Gregory, George Washington University, 2006
Shifting Fire: Information Effects in Counterinsurgency and Stability Operations – Collings & Rohozinski, US Army War College, 2006

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Home link: http://cb3blog.wordpress.com/

David Guyatt
03-10-2010, 11:18 AM
If I understand the general drift of the above, it is that everybody is so captured in their own importance to have the time or inclination to talk to others to reach broad agreements.

But I may be wrong because every time I try to read the whole thing my eyes droop, or I start staring out the window.

But I did notice that there really is a whole different language in use at the Pentagon isn't there:

[T]he traditional kinetic focus of U.S. military operations often jeopardizes communication-based shaping efforts.

In plain English:

"We shoot the fookers first, ask questions later."

Magda Hassan
03-10-2010, 11:27 AM
I like what Bill has to say here

Informed consent

About half the states in the US require that a woman seeking an abortion be told certain things before she can obtain the medical procedure. In South Dakota, for example, until a few months ago, staff was required to tell women: "The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being"; the pregnant woman has "an existing relationship with that unborn human being," a relationship protected by the U.S. Constitution and the laws of South Dakota; and a "known medical risk" of abortion is an "increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide." A federal judge has now eliminated the second and third required assertions, calling them "untruthful and misleading." 1
I personally would question even the first assertion about a fetus or an embryo being a human being, but that's not the point I wish to make here. I'd like to suggest that before a young American man or woman can enlist in the armed forces s/he must be told the following by the staff of the military recruitment office:
"The United States is at war [this statement is always factually correct]. You will likely be sent to a battlefield where you will be expected to do your best to terminate the lives of whole, separate, unique, living human beings you know nothing about and who have never done you or your country any harm. You may in the process lose an arm or a leg. Or your life. If you come home alive and with all your body parts intact there's a good chance you will be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Do not expect the government to provide you particularly good care for that, or any care at all. In any case, you may wind up physically abusing your spouse and children and/or others, killing various individuals, abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and having an increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide. No matter how bad a condition you may be in, the Pentagon may send you back to the battlefield for another tour of duty. They call this 'stop-loss'. Your only alternative may be to go AWOL. Do you have any friends in Canada? And don't ever ask any of your officers what we're fighting for. Even the generals don't know. In fact, the generals especially don't know. They would never have reached their high position if they had been able to go beyond the propaganda we're all fed, the same propaganda that has influenced you to come to this office."
Since for so many young people in recent years one of the determining factors in their enlistment has been the economy, this additional thought should be pointed out to them - "You are enlisting to fight, and perhaps die, for a country that can't even provide you with a decent job, or any job at all."
"I fear for us all, but I especially fear for those already poor. How much lower can they go without being cannon fodder or electric chair fodder or street litter or prison stuffing or just plain lonely suicide?"
- Carolyn Chute, novelist, Maine USA
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word ... like "bribery"
I really did not know that I could still be so surprised, even shocked, by corruption in the Congress of the United States. I thought my coating of cynicism was already more than thick enough to be impervious to any new revelations. I was wrong. Consider the following.
Seven members of the House of Representatives steered hundreds of millions of dollars in largely no-bid contracts to clients of a lobbying firm, PMA Group. In fiscal year 2008 alone, the seven lawmakers sponsored $112 million worth of "earmarks" (construction and other projects paid for by the government) for PMA clients while accepting more than $350,000 in contributions from the firm's clients and lobbyists.
Such behavior should be investigated by the House ethics committee, should it not? And it was. The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct issued a report stating unanimously that the Congress members had not violated any rules or laws. "Simply because a member sponsors an earmark for an entity that also happens to be a campaign contributor does not, on these two facts alone, support a claim that a member's actions are being influenced by campaign contributions."
Ethics watchdogs issued sharp denunciations, citing portions of the report that showed that the private companies themselves thought that their donations helped them win earmarks.
One of the seven Congress members investigated was Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.) The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a government agency not composed of members of Congress, which conducts preliminary reviews, found probable cause that Visclosky sought contributions in exchange for steering federal contracts to contributors. The OCE was in possession of e-mails suggesting that Visclosky's fundraisers were specifically targeted toward PMA's clients who were seeking earmarks. Even though the OCE recommended that the more powerful House ethics committee subpoena Visclosky and his staff to answer questions under oath about his earmarking practice, the members of the House committee chose not to subpoena Visclosky or any of the pertinent records.
Wait, it gets better - The FBI actually raided the PMA offices as part of an investigation into whether the company had directed illegal campaign contributions to lawmakers who helped clients obtain earmarks, and in 2009 a federal grand jury issued subpoenas to Visclosky, one of his former aides, and his political committees.2 But nothing - apparently nothing - could move the members of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the United States House of Representatives to condemn their comrades.
This is the kind of Congressional corruption that drives so many Americans - on the right and on the left - to think of forming a new party. At times, the thought hits me as well. But two factors interfere. One, the overwhelming role played by money in American electoral campaigns can trump the best of intentions. Wealthy elites have no need for any other party. The Democrats and Republicans serve their needs just fine, thank you.
And two, ideology. Gathering together a lot of people who are turned off by Congressional venality and amorality sounds good until the ideological shit hits the fan. There will undoubtedly be a wide range of ideological leanings in any such group because people who are serious about third parties like to be "non-sectarian" or "non-exclusionary", but this typically leads to serious friction, disputes and splits. Even if you specify something like "the United States should get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible", that can still take various conflicting forms; people's politics are complicated, not to mention confused. To those who like to tell themselves and others that they don't have any particular ideology I say this: If you have thoughts about why the world is the way it is, why society is the way it is, why people are the way they are, what a better way would look like, and if your thoughts are at all organized, that's your ideology, even if it's not wholly conscious as such. Better to organize those thoughts as best you can, become very conscious of them, and consciously avoid getting involved with a political party that is incompatible. It's like a bad marriage.
Things are indeed polarizing in America. There's The Tea Party on the right and The Coffee Party on the left. On the face of it, The Tea Party scarcely makes any sense. A seemingly burgeoning new movement semi-hysterically marching and screaming that their beloved free enterprise is threatened by the "socialist" Barack Obama. (What next, that he's a committed "Marxist" or "communist"? They've probably already said that; if you're going to be dumb you may as well go all the way and be retarded.)
A group of more mainstream conservatives gathered February 17 at a Virginia estate once owned by George Washington and called for a return to the principles of Washington's time to fight the political battles that lie ahead. They produced a declaration, "The Mount Vernon Statement: Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century". It is a short statement, a mere 546 words, yet the idea of "limited government" or "self-government" is referred to seven times. These people, no less than the Teapartyers, are obsessed with the idea that government intrusion into society of virtually any kind is harmful, or at least much inferior to what could be derived from "free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions", as they put it. This is standard and familiar conservative doctrine to be sure, but now feeding and powering a whole new generation of right-wing activists.
To counter the arguments of these activists, progressives need to present their own doctrine about the role and value of government in people's lives, a concise summary of which I just happen to have prepared in my essay: "The US invades, bombs and kills for it ... but do Americans really believe in free enterprise?" It was written several years ago, as the examples I use make clear, but this matters not for the ideological principles have not changed. The essay concludes: "Activists have to remind the American people of what they've already learned but seem to have forgotten: that they don't want more government, or less government; they don't want big government, or small government; they want government on their side." 3
Paraguay, Honduras and Barack Obama
During his campaign for the presidency of Paraguay, former bishop Fernando Lugo promised to bring health care to the millions unable to afford it. A month after Lugo took office in August 2008, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPBS) gradually began to make some public health services free, waiving fees for office, outpatient and emergency room visits. Later, hospital admission fees were eliminated, along with charges for intensive care, post-op incision care, treatment in an infant incubator, oxygen therapy, surgery and other services. In 2009, fees were removed for diagnostic tests in all specialties, and for dental and ophthalmological services. Almost all public health services in Paraguay are now free of charge. "What we are doing is making health care a right, regardless of a person's ability to pay," said the director general of the MSPBS.
After 61 years of rule by the right-wing Colorado Party, the Paraguayan left needs to institute various reforms to make sure that free health care is sustainable in the long term.4
So what would it take for free health care to reach the shores of the world's only superpower? Well, a president who believed in it and who had some backbone. But every passing day brings us fresh evidence that the man has no backbone. The Republicans, or certain Democrats, or a powerful lobby, or Israel applies a little pressure and the man buckles. Like a shack in Haiti during a quake.
As to his beliefs ... In May of last year I wrote in this report: "The problem, I'm increasingly afraid, is that the man doesn't really believe strongly in anything, certainly not in controversial areas. He learned a long time ago how to take positions that avoid controversy, how to express opinions without clearly and firmly taking sides, how to talk eloquently without actually saying anything, how to leave his listeners' heads filled with stirring clichés, platitudes, and slogans. And it worked. Oh how it worked! What could happen now, as President of the United States, to induce him to change his style?"
How long before Fernando Lugo lets slip some critical remarks about the behemoth to the north that tosses Paraguay into the ODE (Officially Designated Enemy) dumpster along with Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, et al.? Undoubtedly, there are any number of old-time right-wing military officers in Paraguay who are just itching to duplicate what happened in Honduras. I can hear them now - "We don't need no stinkin' socialist government with its stinkin' communist free health care" - and just waiting for someone at the Pentagon to casually nod his head. And if that happens, the Obama administration will embrace the Paraguayan caudillos just as they've done with the Honduran golpistas, the latest show of support being the announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the resumption of aid and her urging Latin American countries to recognize the new Honduran government, despite its serious and daily violations of human rights. 5
Help wanted for an animated political cartoon
I have written a script for a short video - estimated 5 to 10 minutes long, to be shown on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet, tentatively entitled "Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country." We need a cartoonist to draw the images and a technical person to create the movement using Adobe flash or other software, and to add the narration. Could be one person for both functions. The persons should be in basic agreement with the political ideas expressed in the script, which is available for a confidential reading upon request. Halfway decent pay. Write to: bblum6@aol.com (bblum6@aol.com)