Systemic Operational Design (SOD): Gaining and Maintaining the Cognitive Initiative   [open pdf - 999KB]

"The purpose of this monograph is to demonstrate that Systemic Operational Design (SOD) is a more adaptive approach to designing military operations at the joint operational level than the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP), the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES), and Effects-Based Operations (EBO). Systemic Operational Design gains and maintains the cognitive initiative by enabling the operational commander to recognize and exploit emerging opportunities through its unique process of iterative design. This monograph began as an investigation to determine if either Effects-Based Operations or Systemic Operational Design should replace the traditional Military Decision-Making Process. It soon became clear that these approaches do not accomplish the same functions, are not applicable at the same levels, and are not mutually exclusive. The Military Decision-Making Process originated as a tactical decision-making process, and it remains the most appropriate of the three approaches at that level. It deals with the physical threat on the ground with a decisiveness enabled by an organization of hierarchical authority. Effects-Based Operations is suitable only at the operational level. It takes the time to model the threat as a holistic system and contemplates the desired behavior changes various actions on that system would produce. It exceeds the physical realm of the tactical and explicitly translates strategic directives into tactical effects. Systemic Operational Design is a holistic approach that introduces the discrete element of design to inform planning. It is abstract and conceptual. It creates a cognitive map and continually updates it by the learning that occurs through action. Fusing Systemic Operational Design with the Military Decision-Making Process might be the best way ahead for operational planning and design."

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