Management Engineering

For a Terrorist Organization


By Jesse W. Brogan

Management Engineer

President, The Management Upgrade Shop



Traditional industrial engineering applies in the production environment.  It contains the expertise that is associated with gaining performance through workers.  The emerging specialty of Management Engineering is the application of the principles of industrial engineering to the work of management.  It promotes a much wider application; it addresses how we gain performance through organizations, and through management systems. 

When applied to common performance organizations, it is applied for the purposes of maximizing organizational effectiveness and efficiency of operation.  It can also be applied in a negative sense, minimizing the effectiveness and efficiency of operations in an aberrant or harmful organization.  This article is directed to creating a negative effect on terrorist organizations.

This application generally validates the anti-terrorism directions taken by the United States to date; and then provides a few new concepts that can enhance and increase the negative effect accomplished.

As a first analytic statement, the terrorist organization does not earn income through delivery of product to customers.  Those working full time in the business of terror are most unlikely to be earning income for the organization.  It is a corporate entity that requires income from external supporters if it is to continue its operations.

One of the most important techniques of management engineering is Product and Customer Analysis.  This is the identification of the value foundation for the existence and continuation of an organized effort.  It addresses what the organization accomplishes, and for whom it is accomplished.

Customer and Product Analysis for a negative application should be directed to both minimize the value of the product to those who receive it, and maximize the cost of generating that value.  I note up front that terrorism is not managed for efficiency, and simply making it less efficient is unlikely to contribute substantially to a solution.

The engineering analytic process continues with identifying the sources for the organization’s income.  In functional terms, this is identification of the organization’s resource base.  By engineering logic, wherever the decision to provide resources is made, that will identify the functional customer.  This functional customer is the one who decides to provide resources because they value what the terrorist organization is able to produce.

In general, any organization without functional customers will cease to exist.  Removal of the customer base is a potent threat to continuation of any organization.

Whatever a functional customer receives, and that induces the decision-maker to provide resources, is the functional product.  This is the Pairing Principle for Management engineering.  Customer and product are always to be paired.  The functional product is what the functional customer values as an output from the operation of the organization.  

This basic engineering logic is applicable to all organizations, both those to be desired and those to be discouraged.  The reality is that there must be functional customers who want something and are willing to pay to get it.


An organization is made efficient and effective as seen by its functional customers, through assuring that the customers receive what they value.  The organization will be put in ultimate distress by denying the functional customer what he or she is seeking.

On the value side, the functional product of a terrorist organization is destruction, pain and disturbance; and it has value when delivered to selected non-customers.

On the cost side, there are two types of working resources that have proven necessary for modern terrorism, operating resources and manpower.  The first is an influx of resources.  Terrorist organizations do not produce value for their customers to consume.  There must be another source of resources to continue central operations and to export terrorism to where it is to be effective.  The second is manpower, which has been a combination of central organization adherents and expendable conscripts. 

Operating funds are provided directly by functional customers.  Terrorist organizations do not typically come into funding through running ancillary businesses (as the American gangsters did in the early decades of the 20th century when it ran illegal businesses).  The modern terrorist organization has to produce and deliver its terror products to non-customers if it is to deliver value to its customer base.

Manpower is either gained through maintaining adherents, usually with funds provided by its functional customers, or through conscripting labor.  Conscripts are available among people we now consider to be “fanatics.”

The definition of “fanatic” is currently non-functional.  To identify these resources more exactly, we need to establish a functional picture of who these fanatics are.  These are people who are willing to destroy themselves if it will cause a terrorist effect.  In functional terms, we are dealing with people that have such low self-esteem that they consider an ideal or concept to be more valuable than their own lives.


Action Direction #1:  Interfering with the income of the terrorist organization so that it cannot support both its own people and the cost of terror will eventually remove its customer base.  Terrorism has to be effective to survive as a stable organization. 

The efforts to freeze or deny assets to terrorist organizations will continue to be effective.  It is a right and proper direction for putting the existence of the modern terrorist organization in threat.


Action Direction #2:  Reducing the manpower available to accomplish terror will interrupt terror activities.  Our efforts to find and destroy or convict terrorist-leaders is an effective action.  The professional terrorist will need to be supported, and forcing them into continual defensive posture puts an economic strain on the terrorist organization. 


Action Direction #3:  The current effort to raise the standard of living and self-esteem for those who have been traditional sources of volunteer terrorists is also an effective direction.  Continued pursuit will be necessary for long-term destruction of the terrorist organizations.  As there will always be a source for such people, this cannot be a final solution.  It is more a matter of reducing the supply (increasing recruitment costs), than of eliminating it. 

If the current ready supply of these potential conscripts begins to dry up, it may be effective to identify recruiting candidates, and to perform interdiction.

Another direction, one that is now only partially pursued, should also be effective.  There should be a plan for bringing self-esteem to those who are traditional sources for terrorism recruitment.  Our efforts in promoting Democracy (where every person gets a voice in government) is certainly a big step in this direction.  It is just a step, an address of a political solution; it will have effect, but not as to social, interpersonal or religious ends. 

Making the average person in the recruitment area stronger, more able, and more in control of their own environment, is an ongoing effort that may be even more effective than promoting political freedom.  This indicates value in promoting education and training of civilians in ways that make them more effective.  We are now performing this in Afghanistan as to police and military personnel.  It will also be effective to actively and positively promote civilian educational institutions and infrastructure.  The more secure and effective the individual citizen becomes, the less likely they are to adhere to any self-destructive philosophy.


Action Direction #4:  We have an area for anti-terrorism activity that is not being effectively pursued, addressed to the functional customers of terrorism.  These are people who provide base funding for terrorist activities.  They decide to continue the existence of the terrorist organization because they value its results.  They generally choose not to be part of the effort because the pay is terrible, and there is a high potential for personal damage to anyone who becomes active in a terrorist organization.

As long as these decision makers see value in funding terrorism, the terrorist organization will be receiving resources to continue its existence and activities.  It will be able to support its core of terrorist workers, and to fund the terrorist actions that will encourage further donations/payments from its functional customers.

In this environment, supporters are functional customers because they are unwilling to become active adherents.  They can be discouraged through taking actions that make them into active adherents instead of customers.  They are far less dangerous to us if they are part of the organization than if they are part of its support. 

The indicated anti-terrorist direction for action is inclusion of funding sources as part of the terrorist organization.  Pursuing them as such will interrupt functional customers in their own business interests, and put them personally in jeopardy.  It will not only disturb their own source of funds, but will discourage others from providing like support to terrorist organizations, even if they are sympathetic to the terrorist cause.

Implementation involves personal attacks, through any means available, political, social legal or otherwise.  The desired result is interruption of the functional customer’s own source of wealth and sense of security.

As can be pointed out, we have pursued this up to a point, but not to the desired effect.  This should be a major part of our anti-terrorism efforts.  The effect is to proclaim each funding source, however effective or ineffective their personal efforts, to be part of the terrorist organization that they are supporting.  Hound them.  Give them no secure place.  Bring the sense of terror they wish on others back upon them.  Force them to either join or abandon the organizations they will otherwise support.


Action Direction #5:  A final direction of action comes from application of the first rule of management engineering.  “Management is an essential; it cannot be improved by replacing it with something else.” 

Management skills are unlikely to be strong in a terrorist organization, and its operations will be wasteful.  This can be exploited, even as it might be in a productive organization.  The inefficiency of its operations should be identified, defined and published to those who might support it.  This is another wedge that can be driven between its funding sources and operating personnel; but the greater effect will be accomplished through the impact on those who provide the resources.  As any investors, they want to get the most effect from their contributions.  Publication of inefficiency in organizational operation increases the likelihood of extraneous customer demands and even interference in the operation of the terrorist organization. 

Having the funding decision-makers assume more charge over the organization can only harm its operation further.  Inefficiency needs a lot more freedom of action to continue than does a well managed effort.

Anti-terrorist efforts may be productive through interrupting central management, or causing it to be less effective in the eyes of its customer base.”



Management Engineering has much value to add to our current anti-terrorist efforts.  We have five directions of actions.  Some of these are being well pursued in our current war on terrorism, others are open possibilities to further our effectiveness.  Management engineering evaluates options using investment logic.


Investment #1:  Reducing assets in general.

Cost:  This is a relatively low expense effort with a great effect.  It is a matter of applied intelligence, identifying funds used by terrorist organizations, and going after them.

Benefit:  Again, terrorism does not produce valuable products that it delivers to customers; it needs external sources of funding.  Any effort set to reducing its available funds goes to its continued operation.  The core officers of the organization are unlikely to allow themselves to starve, but will find other work if they are no longer able to use their organizational positions to support themselves.


Investment #2 & #3:  Support personal esteem in the potential sources for conscript labor.

Cost:  This has proven to be a very expensive undertaking, both in public funds and the lives of our young men.  Even with this, we are primarily addressing the political application.  Some additional expense (more in dollars than personnel) would be required to widen the focus, and include the other sources for increasing the personal sense of worth in potential terrorist conscripts.

Benefit:  We are probably looking at a major increase in personal support for individuals who might otherwise become terrorist-conscription targets.  How much this might actually earn in benefit from the dollars expended is highly speculative, but is probably every bit as potent as the political application, and should be fully synergistic with it.


Investment #4:  Forcing funding sources to be terrorists in fact.

Cost:  The cost is more in intelligence gathering than in any other action.  Pursuit of those who fund terror has been half-hearted at best, and pursued as if these were individuals who were not so much terrorists as sympathizers.  The change in direction is endemic to a new attitude and approach, one that insists that payments to terrorists to deliver their product to other targets is terrorism in fact, and should subject the individual to treatment as such.

Benefit:  This does not increase either the vigor or number of those who oppose peace, it simply identifies them more effectively with the results of their actions.  What it does accomplish is a purposeful pursuit of individuals who will otherwise be seeking opportunities to continue supporting terrorist activities.  Funding is a weak point for terror.  If these people can be forced into the terrorist effort, they will no longer be earning income to use for terrorist purposes.  They become a liability, a cost, instead of a benefit for the terrorist organization.


Investment #5:  Encouraging interference in terrorist organizational management

Cost:  This is a minor communication effort that will have to be backed by a more extensive intelligence gathering effort.  Much of the information should already be available.

Benefit:  A terrorist organization is inherently a corporate enterprise, its investors (functional customers) are not active in running the organization.  The more the investors get involved in running the organization, the more they interfere with its operation for their own purposes.  Destruction of internal trust relations is decidedly damaging to any operating group effort.



Management engineering has much to add to our general understanding of process.  It is even able to address organizations for purposes other than efficiency.  There are ways to expand our anti-terrorism process to make it more effective.