Friday, September 28, 2007

Hybrid C2 Structures: Between Hierarchies and Edge Organizations

I am going to start working on a new research project with Sumit Roy (LINK). Our project was recently funded through a grant from the Center for Edge Power, [sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (OASD-NII)], Naval Postgraduate School. Broad Agency Announcement NPS BAA-07-001.

Here is a brief description of the project:

In order to design the ideal command-and-control (C2) structure we consider two ingredients – information and the network. Information is the glue that holds the organizational structure together. Information is generated throughout the organization and must be dissipated by the network via routing across network entities (nodes/peers) to destinations where it is needed. Networks determine the paths that information traverse, and the consequent processing and decision-making by intermediate nodes. In this proposal, we take an inter-disciplinary perspective to the study of hybrid C2 by examining information networks through multiple lenses by drawing on our collective expertise in the fields of information science, organization science, telecommunications network theory, mathematical statistics, and network simulation.

Drawing on these multiple disciplines, our first objective will be to define performance metrics for organizational socio-technical networks. Such measures are plentiful in the telecommunications network theory - such as throughput, scalability, robustness, transfer rates, etc. These are an ideal starting point but need to be customized in the context of socio-technical systems. The most important of such system variables relate to the fact that network nodes can be either human agents or electronic entities (e.g. sensors). For example, socio-technical networks for sense-and-respond operations can be comprised of 80% technical entities (e.g. traditional sensors to monitor changing conditions in the environments and information aggregators that summarize information collected), and 20% human nodes that make sense of this information and relay actions back to the agents and objects in the environments. Consequently, we must account for the (wider) human-centered variations in cognitive and processing capabilities, error tolerances, social theories of interaction etc. Clearly, new models are required to incorporate a) node affinities, b) robustness to interference, c) conflict resolution and error tolerance to characterize the dynamics of our proposed hybrid C2 networks. Accordingly, we propose to draw on decision theory and probabilistic modeling and simulation to develop enabling node and node-clique level properties (micro-level) and study their impact on aggregate network metrics (macro-level). The second objective will be to design and test multiple network structures on the performance measures. Here we will begin by describing broad features of two extreme networks – the pure hierarchy and the pure peer-to-peer (edge) organization.

The proposed research takes a fresh look at the dichotomy between random and scale-free information networks from an inter-disciplinary perspective:

  • We will construct performance measures for socio-technical information, and knowledge, networks by building on telecommunication networking theory.
  • We will construct tiered networks of modest scale and then proceed to study their properties. The fundamental issues of interest will be what parameters of the tiered network drive the trade-off between connectivity and robustness. The emphasis of this work will be constructive, i.e. relative the network topology (i.e. # tiers, nodes/tier and their connectivity distributions) to structural properties that are predictive of important features such as robustness-connectivity tradeoffs.

I am looking for graduate students at the University of Washington who are interested in working on issues of information networks, multi-criteria decision-making problems, information economics, information theory, information dynamics, and agent-based modeling. If interested, please send me an email.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

University campus news & notes

A brief note about my recent visit to Slovenia for the Bled Strategic Forum can be found in the University Week.

EUROPEAN CHALLENGES: Kevin DeSouza, assistant professor in the Information School and director of the UW Institute for National Security Education & Research, was a panelist in the second annual conference of the Bled Strategic Forum "European Union 2020: Enlarging and Integrating," Aug. 26-27 in Bled, Slovenia. The conference brought together politicians, EU officials, private sector leaders and others to discuss key challenges that Europe is facing.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Luncheon Keynote Address: Tennessee State University

I gave the luncheon keynote address for the Fall Intelligence Colloquium held at Tennessee State University. My talk focused on the information management challenges facing the intelligence community. Specifically, I addressed challenges in recruiting adequate and capable human sources, evaluating sources of information in dynamic environments, cultural impediments to interpretations, and challenges in coordinating actions among agencies within the IC and across allied intelligence agencies.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Technology and Power-Shifts: Innovation and Security

I finished giving two lectures at Tennessee State University ( this afternoon. The lectures were attended by students at the College of Business ( My talk focused on how one must understand the changing nature of technology and the impacts on traditional power structures of developed societies. I focused specifically on the discontinuous aspects of technology-enabled innovation and the role of technology in the national security space.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Read the Highlights...eVenturing - Kauffman Foundation

September Collection Sneak a Peek
Aug 29, 2007

"The most important resource of all is time," said Kevin Desouza, PhD. And, how true it is. His suggestion for entrepreneurs both seasoned and new is to try and spend your (precious) time on value-added tasks--those tasks that generate revenue, position your company strategically better than your competition, and bring out innovation. Dr. Desouza stated that "entrepreneurs should not spend their time processing payroll, making travel plans, etc., but should rather spend time building new products and services for strategic gain for their firm. The former is a dangerous activity for entrepreneurs as they view strategic sourcing (outsourcing) as a COST rather than an opportunity cost of saving TIME--time you could spend on your core competencies." The complete article and collection on "Strategic Sourcing" will go live in early September on the eVenturing site.


Desouza Profile [LINK]

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Kaufmann Foundation collection on Strategic Sourcing: A New Way to Think about Outsourcing

I was interviewed for the lead article for the Kaufmann Foundation collection on Strategic Sourcing: A New Way to Think about Outsourcing.

A summary of the collection:
Using a combination of theory, practice, and real-life stories of entrepreneurs like you, this Collection surveys how outsourcing can best serve today’s entrepreneur, president, or CEO. Which functions make the most sense to outsource? How can you use the practice as a strategy? What pitfalls and possibilities do you face when you turn over important business operations to an “outsider”? Entrepreneurs and experts supply answers to these essential questions and others. Smart entrepreneurs now think about the practice as “strategic sourcing”: It can be an invaluable investment that reduces opportunity costs and leverages the primary skills and talents that truly drive the business. Key point: Outsourcing should now be on the inside at entrepreneurial companies, occupying a seat at the growth strategies table.

See the following: Desouza, K.C. “Outsourcing and Opportunity,” [Lead Article] in Strategic Sourcing: A New Way to Think about Outsourcing, Kansas City, MO: Kauffman Foundation, August 28, 2007.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Keynote Speaker: Tennessee State University

I will be the luncheon keynote speaker for an Intelligence Community (IC) event at Tennessee State University on September 21, 2007. The event is organized by TSU’s Pilot Center for Academic Excellence in Intelligence Studies. My talk will discuss the information management challenges facing the IC. I will lay the foundation for a more engaged approach to managing information within, and across, the IC. My talk will draw heavily on my current research project which examines information disconnects and organizational fragmentation within the IC. This project is being conducted with my long-time colleague, Tobin Hensgen.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Off to the UK

I am off to the UK for two weeks. My travels will take me to York, Wigan, Cambridge, and London. I am looking forward to my second visit to the UK this year...

Courses for the Autumn Quarter

I have completed preparing the syllabi for the courses that I am teaching this Autumn Quarter…

IMT 583: Finance and Accounting Foundations for Information Professionals [Link to Syllabus]
IMT 581: Information and the Management of Change [Link to Syllabus]

Link to the syllabi will only be available to students enrolled at the University of Washington. If you would like a copy of the syllabus, please send me an email.