Innovation in intelligence
Hello and welcome to this episode of the Jane's world of intelligence podcast on this episode. I'm joined by my colleague, cruelty and buy a new colleague is just doing James David Gideon who has come in as a head of innovation Davey. I'll get you introduced yourself get some indication of your background and Innovation happens and how maybe it's become more difficult. If it has since the endemic Spigen and it's harder for people to get together in the same spaces to intelligence as well. That's great to hear bit about your background for the last 10 years or so. I've been sitting at the intersection of Silicon Valley or emerging Technologies and the defense in National Security space both at small startup companies.
At large companies where I was at palantir Technologies and then also in government both as a civilian staffer and then also as a uniformed member of the military role is as the body breacher forcing Legacy organizations to change the way in which they do things using new capabilities new methods of understanding and soliciting I use a feedback and use the problems and then rapid development prototyping and expansion of the capability set.
Recently joined James to take our Legacy sophisticated oceans capabilities. And what does a 21st century or ideally the 22nd century leader in open source intelligence look like from a data artificial intelligence and other emerging technology perspective on a wheel excited to have you on board because I think there's a lot that we can do in terms of innovation gently across the sector. You know now that people are remote not awake seeing each other at World communicating again, I like this online or is it harder to if you haven't got that cultural ready to build it and if you have gout it to actually keep it going what I've seen as a failure in in terms of dealing with this pandemic from an innovation perspective is each team is continues to just be silent because that's how they continue to operate.
And it's easier because you know those folks that the line management and then chain of command go straight up and you're able to tell you no push out working and understand exactly where we're project. I'm moving it harder to manage a cross-functional team can't all be sitting together. You don't know what the developer for the devops person or the intelligence analyst is working on at any given time and it becomes harder to manage these projects and it doesn't help that a lot of folks really only know that their Niche within their organization and can't effectively just go ask questions of perspective.
A couple years ago. I remember talking to somebody at the end of the main building in there long enough to understand how the mod works and uniform for for a long time. He was senior enough to be able to see a very broad set of of organizations within the mod and he he referred to something that he called the 10% rule and I believe we were talking about it the other day and said to 90% of people in an organization need to know the rules follow the rules respect the rules and then you need about 10% who know the rules appreciate the rules and work around them whenever possible to eat too kind of accept that and it needs to be less than 10% because otherwise an organization is ungovernable if it's any more or any less than 10% the organization, stagnates little bit and you kind of go to hire for somebody with that kind of character traits and trust those individuals to to build not just
Understanding the formal structure, but I'm a charity to know how to work a system informally to get things done. And then the other thing you said was that you kind of need a renovation team because he's sick animation without Renovations is counterproductive, you know, whether your Innovation is successful or not you alter the structure of an organization simply by going through the process of innovation so you can have many Innovative projects. But if you want working out how to infuse the rest of the organization with new processes you end up fracture in the organization you get these fault lines between teams like you say that you can teach old teams nutritive know I love that is yeah. It's usually failure always typically Innovation theater.
Really speaks to the operational side, but it's much better turn of phrase. I'm stealing that for your Anonymous individuals who he used to refer to something that he said was press to test or he asked people to go and do things outside of the normal the normal process to approved the process didn't work and when it failed and I said visual inevitably got rapped over the knuckles he'd step in and say no I told him to do that becomes a luxury you can happen to stop and then he was able to to to illuminate a failing process and try and get change driven by by pressing it to test rear brakes. Oh, I like this guy. So I'm at this point.
Believe uniform set up his own company so they could all go work for him afterwards. I love chance you guys but we've already been in the teams within those kinds of organizations, whether it's in the military or government somewhere where the organization itself feels stifling or bureaucratic or resistance to change somehow there's a huge amount of inertia and yet within a team you can have a soda pocket that he's maybe trying to be more worried if it is a slightly contentious fantasy of mine. So I have a fantasy that we hire such strong caliber of cross-functional folks that and have such a strong Spirit occur across an organization that people almost emergently take on those 10% kind of risk-taking fail.
Failure possible High rule-breaking programs on their own and they succeed reason why it's it's it's what I'm inherently saying in that is that you need the entire team to beat NX individuals know people who do their jobs at a 10 X Caliber to the norm and that also inherently in these large organizations. A lot of those people are not going to keep things running right going to be the business as usual characters different fantasy.
But I did I think having a a culture around that 10% is so critical where you want there to be a team of rule-breakers. Now, you also need those rule-breakers to be a high-caliber individuals because maybe she is is incredibly good at the operations to be highly highly qualified highly capable and also because I don't think I've run starts off as highly qualified and highly capable. Thanks. I always look I think I gravitate towards the towards there is 10% in my rolls find
Conspirators as opposed to the operations side of the house, although I understand that are important to what I have found in the past is not the disconnect but the different perspectives that end up developing between those in the the rebels. Should we pull them that look back at the organization and see it is stifling and those individuals who liked the structure for whom the dependability of how things are done as usual allows them to reduce work to achieve within that structure to a very high stand it look at the rebels and go why you disrupting this. So I mean having a culture that bridge is that that allows somebody within that 90% to turn around and say, you know what, I really like this project I believe in it I buy into it. I've seen other similar projects in the organisation failed 10 years ago before these young Rebels took over. I don't want to be a part of it and VY.
Versa for that 10% to be able to have a voice that's heard within the mainstream of the organization getting that. It's right is very hot. Otherwise you end up with an organization that is pathologically resistance to Authority Ferry difficult for leadership to managing and that way lies chaos and there are two things that one I think that's why you need to all know and what you're working for and you know, not everyone needs to be an officer, but you should have enough Chiefs running around who keeping stuff in line as as as well or you know, your quintessential Master Sergeants.
Even though I said you folks too because of the way education has changed a lot of people who've gone to University High School in the last couple years. You have a high level of of Technical Training Innovative people. I've met in government or or or from an older generation who are so sick of the business as usual that they've decided that now they really just robbed his one one individual who remained on the podcast senior executive service to be successful in the end starting his own cybersecurity business, but also is a senior adviser and he looks like he looks like it if Santa Claus was a special forces operator.
Jared white long-haired and built like he can just break you never really see it true surprised surprised. You found that that there's also you know, I I don't think that the Innovation comes probably from from the younger side or even from the technically savvy so I think it comes from because there are those there's three. I see that attack the macaron the operational especially on the macro and the operational folks who've been around who tried that they can often be the best in the best condiments to wish to push Innovations because they they actually they can understand where the
Where will break and then they also understand what has succeeded in the past is innovation require more than just saying actually in a we're going to try something similar again because we think it's difficult going to be different this time. You going to succeed this time. You know what you see any occasions where that's been an issue within an organization of the last decade and you know, the concept of being developed cycle and finally computer and data have gone to such a high fidelity that there's a huge hype and a huge amount of failure. Where are there was a lot of false starts. And so then in the round 2016, you saw people becoming interested in
325 year long in between where folks really weren't that interested. There's a lot of research but not a lot of production and then last two three years now, we've only seen a complete shift if you just look at the kind of company is that better focus on dual-use technology weather that's and the ones I always try to go to your primary recipient data Miner big venture-backed Darlings government, you know, what they got? My clients has been incredibly successful now the reason for that just that been tried to bring the past and it has failed but it's it's acknowledging the macro both changed in that time.
We actually move past the you know, the fetish of the new and into the wild. How does this new thing actually help us operationally and people look at it before and I think so. So to answer your question directly if nothing has changed has the same. The macro situation is the same operational contacts the same then simply trying Innovation again starts looking a lot like that definition of insanity of trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results, even though that's a lot of how you train a AI model but apparently insane but I'll explain in Warrenton additional. Look what about the customer site mean in terms of you know, if an organization is launching something you would want to try something new how much
I need to persuade that customers that this is actually something to buy and tell me if the if it isn't immediately clear that it's going to make them better or false drawer and give them better accuracy of them into that ring site. Excetera. Is there a way to get that buy it from customers if they if I'm not seeing the need for trade away the actual needs they should be thinking about right where we will see in sales ad that widget. Did you got into kind of the 80s with a boiler room style high pressure sales environment around you know pudding.
Bully someone into what you want and we found out that when you have to sell complex sales that doesn't really work and some folks moved into a more concentrated model Socratic asking. Well, what would you like? What would you like you like, but when it comes to Innovation, you're right that you sent and additional capabilities around that may actually be seeing something a little over the horizon. What do you want in a consultative Socratic way you'll come back and say well, I don't know. I'd love it. If you could provide me with this specific analysis or analytic capability.
They're not going to have an opinion about it today. It's up to you to do that and Henry Ford situation. This isn't a New Concept but it's become really a parent when it comes to specifically forward-leaning Innovation Simon talking about things that we be gone today, but maybe that's around uncertain technology capability or a specific type of workflow for a client and we believe that this will be a risk in the future. We believe that this will be a global hotspot in the future or we believe that access to water and he's be more thoroughly maps and overlaid around complex because we think that this is going to be a large area focus in the in the future Wars.
Are willing to interrogate and a willing to be wrong about what we have to stop at that point of view before we can actually fight any contacts and it made me think, you know in the historical context of innovation intelligence and City Ministries Fizz. Was there a point at which it was led more by the the government and Military organizations in the last couple of decades, maybe we've seen that she private sector has been much more intuitive and Sons of technology and advanced capabilities. Are we now in a phase where those things are going to Magic NY government to start who dumped more of the capabilities of the private sector that would have the pipe right side for a sled. So I'll be kind of seen the pendulum swinging back to its government and military organization increasing that their ability to be at The Cutting Edge.
Reason for that has been to one has been governments realizing that they you know, they missed the boat on that maybe two different digital transformation that have happened. So they're trying to get ahead of the Third Kind of automation. But also new technology development military apparatus around dual-use capabilities. So programs like a cute owl the defense Innovation unit afework softworks Naval acts Army Futures command, not a big big Focus around direct engagement with with the technology sector as the government and breaking down barriers to entry providing capabilities for you know phased rollouts product NO phase 1 2 and 3 typically in a small business Innovation research program contacts.
And other similar programs the presidential Innovation fellows program that I was apart of the defense digital service functions 1A provides capital and conduits for a technology to to be better integrated against government to National Security problems and programs into these areas also bring in folks who ordinarily would have looked at the at the government has a stuffy place to work. So, you know, I'm my talents are better served elsewhere, but there's a lot of people who who are incredibly talented want to make an impact your mission driven.
Kunafa, does programs exist between doing similar work or related to work at Facebook. They now have the ability to use those skills at but it's not just because of the government somebody said. Hey, we need to invest and people back into government service in and into the National Security apparatus. And of course, there's people big skill sets but the network and differentiated points of views around and in what way we should be approaching me different problems. And I think that's been the most important Innovations over the last few years when it comes to government work.
has been this shift and focus on
ringing highly talented technologists and folks. I'll be there around that space in in either to uniform into staff bass positions.
That's right. And she don't think this is a thread that's been running through this conversation Rudy. Is that either one you had when we talked about Innovation. I think a lot of people just think about the technology and then she think about the people side the skill side that requires the news that is required to build out the technology that to the end to apply it to implement Solutions effectively. And I think pretty that's where we're going to say. She's pretty soon they can buy in Innovation. Oh my God, I the latest technology or whatever and then that's it. That's not booked staked. You know that I worry about it or as I think it is much more about the people from what you've been told me about throughout this trial this discussion. You know, when I coming on Jane's AS Global head of innovation, my first asks are around people both cross-functionally within the organization as well as externally of people who I want to to drink into the James fold, and that's always been the case.
In startups, it requires a set of capabilities differentiate point of views and cross-functional folks. We need to haul because you're going in the right direction to use the the aphorism but it doesn't have and if you view Innovation as acquisition strategy or innovation as a technology strategy, have you have you ever come across Thomas? Barnett has a fantastic tedtalk OB at 15 years old now, which I'm amazed the it Sage this well, but it talks about let's let's rethink America's military strategy it is.
American Military into a a war-fighting. A sysadmin force and one of his arguments was was really simply about what were the tasks that young corporals and sergeants were being asked to do in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, they were lost to manage a city's water facilities and electricity. They are building their using chat functions to to talk to each other about how to do this. I think my own personal opinion of it is that a lot of failed Innovation is is an innovation that's being pushed ahead of its time is no point pushing flying cars when there's no infrastructure to manage three-dimensional traffic will traffic in a three-dimensional space just it's a great idea. Everybody would love a three-time in a flying car but it's ahead-of-its-time a lot of his discussion. A lot of his talk is about how are the sorts of things that they're being asked to do or ahead of their time and I think when we not
Bound Aegis to the old the idea that the longer you're in a roll the better you get it at the more experience. You got the more you specialize in that role the younger you are the boys got depressed because you haven't had time yet to to specialize to get senior enough that you have specialized until you find people who are innovating of reading looking for different ways to do things that could be done. If there was a Structure their Innovation is just trying to find a different route to that. I think a lot of the Innovation that we're seeing certainly from from the things I being exposed to a chains is a stuff that you think will that should have happened why hasn't happened already was because it's a little bit ahead of its time. We're trying to do things that all things being equal would have been established ways of working five years ago 10 years ago, but the technology is mature enough individuals who are who are senior now or individuals that have grown up trying to innovate and understand how to cut out and played around with it and at school in their spare time.
20 years ago those individuals didn't have that opportunity to slide against a different skill-set. It's a bit. So maybe that goes some way to describing why Innovation happens in the ways, we would describe it during this conversation. I'm just going to listen to Ted Talk. By the way, I like to think about war in the context of war is Joba still think about war in the context of peace and that's a very different mindset and so immediately he's got an Innovative perspective.
Yeah, and I think that that touches on something.
It comes in it it is no prescription for successful Innovation. Just the right people. It's not just the right operations. It's it's sometimes the right frame of reference it sometimes just a change of you of taking something and The Innovation consultancy Fahrenheit 212 calls it the spatula approach you take something and you flip it over and you re-examine it from the other side. That's kind of what war in the context of peace or the military in the context of Peace that's taking it and just flipping it and it can be as simple as that. Now what you do with that obviously and how to tie a 5-4 operationalize that that Innovative thinking obviously
It's simply a change of you and get back to you and you want to give them the opportunity to to share that feel even if you disagree with them or even if it ultimately goes nowhere being able to to have that I think matters I'm going to get out of this conversation cuz it's been really interesting and something we can definitely revisit and future and they didn't know you could specialize mean in a science Central. So be great to have you back on to the podcast to talk about that, you know in a while as well and I'm sure there's lots more topics we can delve into you guys text you as well for a chipping in with it with some of those stories.
For tangential opinion concert is it works better that way?
Innovation in intelligence has never been more vital to ensure organisations are not left behind, which raises several questions: How does innovation occur and how can national security organisations and others innovate in the field of intelligence? How can organisations continue innovating as collaboration becomes more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic? In this podcast episode the Janes Intelligence Unit addresses these questions with Davey Gibian, Head of Innovation at Janes, who describes the crucial elements of innovation and explains why collaboration does not equate to innovation and why failure is essential.