The recent terrorist attacks in the UK made me think of my post on principles vs rules.

The individuals in each terrorist cell are driven by clear principles. They act on these principles the best way they know how, using whatever method or approach that works. Often these are ways most likely to succeed in the local environment because of their local knowledge, and their high adaptability unconstrained by any operations manual or corporate policies.

Acts of terrorism are hard to predict because they don't follow easily recognisable rules. There are no best-practice guidelines for blowing up innocent people. The people involved don't necessarily fit into simplistic profiles. That is what makes it so scary and more often effective than not.

Drawing a parallel with the business world for a moment. Most businesses operate on known rules. Most business behaviours can be predicted relatively easily. Especially if we are talking about big businesses. They have top down hierarchies - take down the leader and a headless chook situation quickly arises. They are highly siloed. No one knows what heir colleagues in another area are doing, let alone contemplate collaboration. Most employees don't have any real understanding of the principles behind their work, nor do they have a sufficient big picture of the goals and visions of their organisation such that they can act with effective initiative. And sadly, most people are selected and hired as replaceable clones, leading to a shortage of significant diversity.

If only terrorist organisations are like the best of the best best-practising companies. That would make them so much easier to "fix"!