Executive suite: And the Oscar for net-centricity goes to ...

Mimi Browning

Net-centricity is the power of networks to distribute information instantly and without borders.

In commercial markets, net-centricity drives seamless supply chain management and global media information dissemination. The Defense Department's network-centricity efforts are aimed at transforming the way it conducts warfare.

Yet, net-centricity could vastly improve its effectiveness by paying attention to Hollywood's Academy Awards. With the exception of minor technology awards (visual effects, sound mixing, sound effects), the Oscars are about people, content, collaboration, successful politics, action and the WOW factor.

In DOD, net-centricity too often is about telecommunications, sensors, satellites, weapons platforms, data links, technical architectures, bandwidth, computers and, worse, PowerPoint briefings.

The usual focus of net-centricity is technology, but the traditional focus of warfare is people. To quote General Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, 'Warfare fundamentally is a human endeavor. It is a test of wills. It is a test of things deep within us.'

We need to take a more visceral, knowledge-centered approach to make net-centricity work. Technology should be secondary to the power of individuals and teams in accelerating the transformation to net-centricity. In this light, let us consider some playful Net-centricity Awards (and their criteria) to remind us that human performance, not technology, is the stretch goal for net-centricity.\
Best Picture'This award will go to the project that demonstrates the power of the human mind and spirit to harness technology to provide actionable information to accomplish mission goals. It features strong starring roles from the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and national and international partners, working seamlessly together.

Best Actor'Receiving this award will be the executives'flag officers, Senior Executive Service officials, political appointees or members of Congress'who consistently demonstrate:

  • Leadership rather than systems or technology advocacy as the forcing function for successful interoperability

  • Acceptance of the differences between the services, coalition partners and generations of
  • The positive results of joint acquisition, training and deployment of net-centricity solutions.

Best Supporting Actor'This award goes to soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, civilian workers or contractor personnel who consistently demonstrate:
  • Stewardship, not control, of data across organizational borders

  • Creation of knowledge-sharing environments

  • A collaborative team spirit to accomplish the mission.

  • Best Director'This prestigious award will be given to the strong-willed individual who officially changes Network-Centric Warfare to Knowledge-Centric Warfare.

    Original Screenplay'The winning script shows how situational awareness provides actionable knowledge for military operations. Good guys, bad guys, a little romance and foreign intrigue demonstrate successes such as defeating terrorist cells and saving American troops in harm's way. The script showcases innovative tactics, best practices and well-written procedures to get the job done.

    Lifetime Achievement Award'This award is gratefully given to the courageous individual who has broken down cultural, organizational and political barriers to create a trusted environment providing substantial knowledge to institutional and battlespace warriors.

    Mimi Browning, a former Army senior executive, is a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va. She can be reached at browning_mriiam@bah.com.

    About the Author

    Browning is a former Army senior executives and former Booz Allen Hamilton principal who now leads Browning Consultants.

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