Center of Gravity (COG) is a military concept that Dr. Joseph Strange defines as “primary sources of moral or physical strength, power, and resistance.” From a military perspective, this is where we should concentrate when attacking the enemy. As Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz states, “that is the point against which all our energies should be directed.”
In “Center of Gravity Analysis” (Military Review, July/August 2004), Army Colonel Dale Eikmeier describes the framework for COG and how an enemy (your threat) attempts to exploit them, as follows:
· Center of Gravity—the organizations that do the work (e.g. the military/industrial complex)
· Critical Capabilities (CC)—the strengths of the organization—its “primary abilities”
· Critical Requirements (CR)—the supplies that a COG use—the inputs that are their opportunities, if leveraged for future plans
· Critical Vulnerabilities (CV)—the vulnerabilities a COG has—e.g. exposed or unguarded critical infrastructure
From an enterprise architecture perspective, I greatly appreciate this analysis of COG as it aligns beautifully with Albert Humphrey’s famous Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis for organizational strategic planning.
Aside from typical SWOT analysis to develop your organization’s strategy, the COG analysis adds greater offensive analysis to SWOT–like the military, organizations using the COG model can disrupt competitors’ advantages by seeking to weaken them where they are most vulnerable.
For example, EA used in this fashion may lead a company to build a sophisticated online sales site that directs customers away from your competitor’s retail location. Similarly, acquiring a major supplier (i.e. vertically integrating) may disrupt a competitors’ supply capability, and so on. The point is that EA becomes a force for attack rather than a mere planning tool or information asset.
It is at this point that I disagree with the assertion in the article that “Information is not power; it is a tool, an enabler. It helps wield military or economic power. By itself, it is simply information.”
Far to the contrary, information is one of the greatest assets that we have. It is the way that an advanced, intellectually based society competes. Of note, our declining performance in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), which is so greatly worrisome to our leadership, is of concern because it is directly a threat to our competitive advantage, both militarily and economically, in the global environment.
Information, as embodied by the Internet, is now the center of our society. With it, we perform critical tasks of information sharing, collaboration and education. Used effectively, our military has developed robust command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (C4ISR)—all information-based. Similarly, our industry is highly competitive and advanced because of the engineering, innovation, and people behind it.
Enterprise architecture, once a small part of the IT infrastructure, can actually play a far greater role in the information society if we allow it to. We have morphed from the industrial age of the 18th and 19th centuries to a highly advanced information society that creates new sources of critical capability, but also new critical vulnerabilities that must be defended. And we must also leverage the vulnerability of our enemies in order to stay viable. Whether it’s cyber-warfare or economic survival, information is at the heart of everything we are successfully doing today.