al Qaeda’s Innovation Cycle

A discussion on Robb’s site touches on something I give a great deal of thought to – why has al Qaeda not transitioned into a Global Guerrilla entity – my answer is based on an understanding of innovation.
The very basic but very easy to read Innovation – Getting Out of Your Box (PDF)
Theory of Constraints (Wiki)
A Fresh Look at Incremental and Radical Innovation in the Entrepreneurial Firm (PDF)


This type of innovation is a step forward along a trajectory in an attempt to garner more output for less input, or in other words, to become more efficient at a given task set to achieve a given goal.

The perception or reality of the US possessing moral/technical superiority in Iraq provided constraints for the insurgency. This led to rapid innovation cycles on the part of anti globalization forces and eventually led to the adoption of open source warfare.

Our efforts to secure the homeland have been sub par to say the least. Lucky for us however, our target rich environment in conjunction with our inability to effectively attack the enemy is not conducive to innovation.

al Qaeda has shown itself to be extraordinarily creative within the confines of their 4GW framework. It has not yet achieved the potential of its current tactics. Incremental increases in ability are enough to achieve goals. For now.


This type of innovation on the other hand is an attempt to completely revamp an organization in order to achieve given goals with new task sets rather than the same old same old.

As the frequency and intensity of terror attacks increase our efforts to quell terrorism will increase in severity.
Theoretically al Qaeda will lose the ability to exploit our societal structure (which may involve losing the freedoms we so proudly display) and this will cause the potential of the current tactics to decrease.

When potential is achieved, or the point of efficiency reached, the innovation cycle will complete. Constraints will drive innovation. al Qaeda will evolve into a GG network and focus on attacking global connectivity.

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