Information Warfare

When we think about information, especially as it pertains to history, we have to remember that history is a matter of perspective. It is about the judgment of the people who are recording the history. As a reader you must consider the source and consider the lens through which the information is being presented.

“Total perspective is an optical illusion.”

-Will & Ariel Durant

Will Durant talks about how the history usually written is very different from the history that is actually lived. He makes the argument that history records include exceptional insights because they are interesting. And interesting things get written down.

Almost 900 years ago, Genghis Khan realized the power of information. While he relied on quality intelligence from the field, he also realized that paper was the most potent weapon in his arsenal. In August of 1221 about a year into a military campaign, Mongol officials reportedly requested one hundred thousand pieces of paper that was famously known from their Korean subjects.

The Mongols used the paper to propagate false reports from the battlefield on the number of people killed. The information warfare spread fear throughout the region well before any warriors had arrived.

I have seen the power of information in construction defect litigation, in real estate acquisitions, and counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan.

While information is power, it helps to understand what is the quality of the information. When you receive reports from your partner, your contractor, your sponsor, think about the lens through which they are sharing the information.

In my experience, the information being reported from the field is not wrong on purpose. It is distorted by all the many perspectives through which it travels.

The next time you receive a report from the field, think about the messenger. What is their perspective? What information are they trying to share? What is their motive? What is their purpose in sharing this information?

How many times have you heard, “everything is going according to plan.” 

Information is power. We are all fighting a battle these days with information. Is it accurate? Is it useful? Is it timely?

Today, more than ever, you need to learn to understand information and the many perspectives through which it is shared.

Information becomes more art than science. You must be able to step back and think about the information. The information is not good or bad. It just is.

The Real Con 013

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