What is Ray Ozzie reading to make sense of a dangerous world? Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy (RAND, 2001). Edited by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, Networks and Netwars argues that terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda are near-perfect embodiments of a networked organization — a form that Ozzie, the programming wizard behind Lotus Notes and Groove, pioneered.
In an email exchange, Ozzie explains how the information revolution, which transformed the way we live and work, must now change the way we fight.
Why this book at this time?
The premise that "hierarchies have a difficult time fighting networks" is very compelling. As the book notes, "It takes networks to fight networks; whoever masters the network form first and best will gain major advantages."
What's the book's core message?
In the battle against small, dispersed organizations, it is unlikely that the massive, centralized organization will achieve success — but neither will the wholly decentralized organization. The winning formula is a combination of the two: an organization that can use tremendous force when necessary, even as it enables specialist groups to work together in a decentralized manner.
How have you applied the book's insights to your own work?
Many of the technologies being leveraged for cross-company collaboration can also be applied to defense and security — restoring a sense of safety and stability to our society.
Find out more about Networks and Netwars (www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1382).
A version of this article appeared in the February 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.