Former Microsoft COO: Intelligence overhaul means crushing 'fiefdoms' - Computerworld "The U.S. intelligence community has "effectively missed the information and communications revolution of the 1990s," according to Bob Herbold, retired executive vice president and chief operating officer at Microsoft Corp. And he said he knows exactly why: Cultural fiefdoms at various intelligence agencies have grown large and powerful, and have even allowed new fiefdoms to grow within them.
According to Herbold, the 9/11 Commission and the U.S. Congress -- both of which have called for a major overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community to help improve information sharing -- are up against a formidable enemy.
Herbold recently completed a book about the topic called The Fiefdom Syndrome, and his comments come as the Bush administration and Congress work to reshape the nation's intelligence gathering abilities.
"Fiefdoms emerge when individuals and groups seek to make themselves as independent as possible and work to protect their turf and reshape their environment to gain as much control over it as is possible," said Herbold. "This behavior stems from the inclination of individuals and groups to become fixated on their own activities, their own careers, their own territory or turf to the detriment of those around them."
Those who create fiefdoms become dangerously insular, losing perspective and awareness of what is happening in the world outside of their own control, Herbold said. "They lose their ability to act consistently on behalf of the greater good, [and] they are determined to do things their own way, often duplicating or complicating what should be done organizationwide," he said."
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