Friday, August 19, 2011

Branding vs. the Flash Mob


In recent times we have seen the rise of the "headless" organized crime group where leaders, if they exist, are more like ringleaders who "activate" group members. The group is driven by ideology - a reverse form of brand:

* Wikileaks - "exposing despicable and underhanded actions of governments (and businesses) the world over"

* Anonymous/Lulz - "Internet freedom"

* Flash mobs - "a random act with the sole purpose of confusing others"
Because these groups move so quickly and often so invisibly it is difficult for traditional law enforcement methods to counter them. By the time the police show up, the flash mob is gone.

What to do?

Basically, use the same tactics these groups are using - to counter them.

Really we are talking about brand-based distributed leadership as a tool for law enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security, for which I work (I do not represent them here) has a campaign going on right now called "See Something, Say Something" encouraging ordinary people to be vigilant and report unusual activity to law enforcement. 

This is the type of thing I am referring to, except I am suggesting that the structure of law enforcement itself be rethought to be more effective at fighting crime. As follows:

1. Locus of control is internal and ideology-based: We are loyal to the concept of keeping our country and our world free and safe from lawlessness.

2. There is no single "star" or hero in this model - everyone is equally capable of helping in the cause.

3. Redundancy - every process and every piece of equipment and every person who is on the job, has a backup who can do the same thing in case they are taken out.

4. Infrastructure - we operate virtually and are not centered on physical buildings. We can communicate instantly and easily across the world and citizens know how to communicate with us as well.

5. We are geographically distributed and not headquarters-centric.

What this means, as well, is that we end the cult of personality. It's not about finding a brilliant leader to follow. It is about finding brilliant followers.

Something to think about - we must act quickly, proactively and aggressively as a nation and a world society if we are to eradicate the organized criminals that keep good people hiding.

Have a good day everyone, and good luck!


Image source here