Hidden malevolent intent
Surprise attacks are effective because they take advantage of situational dissonance, i.e., actions by one party not anticipated by the other. Without offering much detail of events, I attempted to give this some thought across three media events that caught the headlines yesterday.
- A slap in the face
- Poison served as peace
- Safe harbours no more for employment law pirates.
Here I attempt to talk in terms of all three within categorical parameters I am using elsewhere to described project relationships
v | b | t
Hopefully familiar to anyone reading my blogs regularly, these are the interrelationship variables that represent a shared or separate set of interests namely, visibility | behaviour | trust. In the surprise move, we have:
- One party disguising their intent (visibility | behaviour)
- The other party perceiving no threat from the first (trust)
Additional factors in play
This gives me cause to revisit other factors in play in assessing threat. These are factors I have identified previously in the context of projects. Each seems to apply equally well here.
Influence – as Action Potential
Think of this as the spectrum of possible behaviours of each of the two or more parties. Typically dynamic, and therefore changeable over time. These are matters such as intent, motivation, belief, by which one party may find reason to choose or feel compelled to direct their energy. In neuroscience this is Action Potential. It is measured at cellular or neuronal level, but perhaps is an apt description between situational actors as well.
Right arena, right rules
In each of the three examples here, we have a definable space, and conventions that apply. The examples here:
- confines of a spotlight;
- a banner of truce;
- legal employment frameworks deemed to be breakable rules.
But if we have the wrong arena in mind, we may have the wrong rules to apply. This highlights the importance of perspective or modal clarity.
What this additionally highlights is a threat to one actors safety, enabled because the wrong arena has been assumed. In these examples:
- a single safe spotlight becoming a shared stage;
- a table of negotiators but needing to see a wider arena concealing snipers, poisoners, or media spin:
- a marketplace as a transport operator but finding safe harbour no more
We have the perceived safety of a control environment therefore proved false:
- A comedian’s sanctuary to say anything without reproach;
- Rules of combat that may not prevail under a banner of diplomatic truce;
- Legal rights of employees, legal expectations of ship owner and port authority.
Dynamics of change
To which we can then revisit influence and the appropriateness of control. Perhaps these two factors can be linked as situational awareness. Influence as an observable variable, positively or negatively directional towards self-interest or shared goal. To which the assessment of totality of range of possible behaviours, and appropriateness of controls can then be compared.
v | Behaviour as covert action | t
I need to now extend the range of behaviour. Not only is self-interest vs shared interest now possible. We now have shared interest defaulting to self-interest deteriorating to intentional harm of another. This requires visibility to be intentionally obfuscated and an illusion of trust to be maintained. This means we can have completely the opposite of full information i.e., [-1, 0, +1]
The hidden truth
Together these factors in each arena seem to help explain what was perceived versus what transpired. And how combative aims were concealed. By breaching the perception of trust we have a means to consider a bigger range of action potential as hidden intent.
Accordingly, when there is covert (as opposed to overt) action potential, this is beyond a poorly shared truth. This is concealment, and acting within a lie. Self-serving, self-justifying harm.
Is it too much to suggest in a caveat emptor project world, we occasionally fit this expanded mould?
And what of today’s headlines? Knock-knock Prime Minister. Plenty of eyes are now looking behind your door.