Part I: OutlineIntroduction
This section introduced the topic. Particularly, it indicates that the military is not always at war and that this should not mean everything must stop until the next war. Rather, it emphasizes that the peacetime can be an important time for reflection on the failings in the previous wars, the anticipation of trends of future warfare and appropriate innovation. However, the introduction shows, such innovation require the military organization to possess certain elements.

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What Innovations Can be Made during Peacetime: the German Example
This section discusses briefly the types of innovations that military organizations can make during peacetime, citing the example of Germany in the period between the First and Second World Wars.

Qualities for Innovation
These are the two qualities needed to military organizations to be innovative.
Information and Knowledge Management
This section shows how information can significantly facilitate innovation. However, it places emphasis on information timeliness and accuracy, which requires strategic information and knowledge management.
Organizational Culture and Structure
This section shows that effective and efficient information and knowledge management requires the support of a suitable organizational structure, which rests primarily on the premise of flexibility.
This section makes a verdict on what military organizations need to facilitate and enhance innovation during peace times. It places emphasis on the issues discussed above.

Part II: Essay
The military is generally expected to fight wars for their countries. However, it is not always that the military fight wars, for there are also long periods of peacetime. In fact, the US being the exception, many countries’ military forces have not fought any wars for years. However, peacetime does not mean that everything stops. On the contrary, peacetimes offer a blessing of time, during which military organizations can consider the factors that are likely to affect future warfare, how they are likely to be fought, and innovate in anticipation of that future. In this respect, military organizations must have certain qualities to be innovative during peacetime. This paper explores two of these: information and knowledge management; and organizational culture and structure.

What Innovations Can be Made during Peacetime: the German Example
Before looking at innovation and the organizational qualities needed for it, below are some of the innovation-related activities that military organizations can occupy themselves with during peacetime. Learning from history, the peacetime period between the two world wars saw significant innovations that resulted in the development of technologically advanced military tools and organizations. The Germans, for instance, having realized the significance of land warfare during World War I, restored their movement to land warfare through the creation of the Blitzkrieg. They also developed advanced fighters, like the Spitfire.

Qualities for Innovation
Information and Knowledge Management
Innovation means nothing if it is not timely. Organizations must make sure that they are always at par with the times. Central to innovation is strategic information and knowledge management, which includes the harvest and utilization of information. According to Liew, information and knowledge management entails the systematic gathering and management of information and knowledge within all levels of organizations.

The question is not whether there is information (for that is given), but whether the available information can be accessed. In other words, the issue here is the harvest of information. To harvest information effectively, it is necessary to first, know where to get the information (i.e. the source of information) and second, know how to get the information (i.e. the tools for getting the information, as well as creating an environment that makes harvesting information possible).

To be innovative, military organizations must always have access to the right information at the right time. In other words, information must travel fast between the ranks, and analyzed to get the vital knowledge, and which can be used to make important decisions. As it were, information enters the organization from all points. In fact, a great amount of local information comes from the lower ranks. Therefore, there is a great advantage for the organizations that can process information close to its source and utilize it in time. But this can be a problem for many military organizations for various reasons.

The first problem may have to do too much bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is dangerous to information harvesting. Information takes too long to reach the right people, and then their decisions take long to reach the lower ranks and have a vital impact on time. The underlying problem here has to do with organizational structure.

Organizational Culture and Structure
Organizational structure is the key influence on the dissemination and utilization of information and knowledge organization-wide. There are basically two types of organizational structures: horizontal and vertical structures- and others are mainly variants of these two. Horizontal structure is flexible and allows more horizontal movement of personnel. It is based on the premise that every employee, regardless of the level, is important and can make an important individual contribution to the organization. The structure is, therefore, meant to make the most of the individual; that through free interaction, information passes fast and individual can learn from one another. Vertical structures, on the other hand, are rigid and harmful to information and knowledge management.

The military- most military organizations- traditionally operates a rigid hierarchical structure in which every person is in his/her place, and must not break protocol. In other words, in a vertical structure that is common in most military organizations, information from the lower ranks must be passed up through a multilayer hierarchy, await processing and analysis before the results are passed down again through the same multilayer structure. The consequence is that it can take a long time for information to travel from officers of the lower ranks to the top officials, and this can be detrimental to timely decision making. In fact, at times, the information fails to reach the right person not at all. The top management is largely separated from the lower ranks, leading to a major information gap. There are also inter-agency and inter-departmental politics that are hampering the sharing of information. Simply, this rigid hierarchical structure, characterized by bureaucracy, can be a major obstacle to innovation.

Although it might be a good thing, it is doubtful that military organizations would allow a fully horizontal structure. But regardless of what military organizations do, they must focus on two key issues: establishing information and learning culture and this must be accompanied by a focus on information, which entails shortening information paths. Whatever design a military organization chooses- in line with military culture-, the main goal should be to ensure effective and efficient information sharing within boundaries, and this should be cost free, automatic and rapid. This involves removing obstructions. One could say that Germany’s military organizations did not need this structure- which is quite new. However, one must recognize that times have changed, and the dependence on information for competitive advantage may be far greater today than it was back in the mid-20th Century.

  • Lam, Alice. Innovative organizations: structure, learning and adaptation (Paper Presented at
    the DIME Final Conference, Maasctricht, 6-8 April, 2011)
  • Liew, Anthony. “Understanding data, information, knowledge and their
    inter-relationship”, Journal of Knowledge Management Practice 8, no.2 (2007)
  • Murray, Williamson &Barry Watts.Military Innovation in Peacetime, in ed. Allan Millet
    & Williamson Murray, Military Innovations during the Interwar Years. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.