Stephen Ganyard has a great op-ed in the NYT today on how disasters are local and ‘flat’ training exercises (flat as in zero overhead and broad participation) can generate tinkering activity that can be used to create “$25 solutions to multimillion dollar problems.” I’m as much a fan of Golden Phoenix as anyone, but it needs to be said: this is an inefficient way of solving a broader problem.
Think of each one of these exercises as a point on a timeline, where information transfer takes place that enables that tinkering (key to any kind of success). Any innovation that occurs beyond the actual exercise (Ganyard’s example of Angel Flight West and Project K.I.D.) is residual. You’re much better off seeing a trendline rather than isolated points. (Sure you can connect the dots, but that’s a classic federal government trick to lie to everyone.)
Information platforms actually provide a way to maintain strong information links that enable strong information transfer over time. By building those information platforms from the bottom up rather than top down (i.e. fusion centers that I can’t access for some byzantine reason) we can see this same type of tinkering activity occur as a function of leadership rather than a residual byproduct.