I was listening to a business plan for a wider web social space and it occurred to me that I'd heard a lot of these ideas before. Actually, I'd had a lot of these ideas.

I went digging through my archives and I found a VooDoo document for a concept that I tinkered with way back in 2012.

Today, I would write this document in a very different way, focusing on how to go to market and with a more thorough design process to refine the ideas. It's still interesting to see what was floating around back then and how similar it is to startups that are poking above the waterline in 2018.

A war room is...

Social: The war room is not a one-person tool or operation. Its main utility is as a facility to enable team-based thinking and decision making. Much of its benefit is to serve as a means for others to quickly gain comprehension and to develop a common frame of reference. It can also serve as an effective tool for team brainstorming.

Spatial: The foundation, on which all else is based on in the war room, is the capture and mapping of the decision making process and logic flow. Effective war rooms graphically capture and lay out this process within the facility. -- "come look at this", "looking over their shoulders".

Real-time: War rooms also serve as effective advocacy tools in which to gain senior management and peer level support. The most effective technique in doing so is to walk someone through the war room. They will find some gaps and flaws. Incorporating their thoughts and enhancements will often serve to gain their interest, participation and support.

User goals

  • Handle and enhance decision making and planning
  • Channel the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information
  • Foster collaboration and decision making
  • Manage information in a time-sensitive environment
  • Develop tactics and strategies
  • Wield influential during press interviews
  • Sell a path forward to upper management
  • Display complex relationships for planning, info, and intel
  • Articulate plans and generate support
  • Visualize and assimilate data and linkages between information that impact multidimensional plans
  • Tour decision makers through information, explaining and gathering feedback
  • Plan and manage intelligence support for a decision
  • Collect incoming field intelligence
  • Sort and store intelligence, information, and data collected
  • Visualize information, enhancing its comprehension and conveyance to others
  • Analyzing the information, thus deducing important findings
  • Evaluate options and choices
  • Provide recommendations to decision-makers

Existing mental frames

  • Network operations center (NOC)
  • Dispatch center
  • Security and surveillance monitoring center
  • City operations centers
  • Event communications center
  • NASA mission control
  • First responder / mass casualty incident emergency response center
  • Tactical response center
  • Political campaign war room
  • Public relations emergency war room
  • Agile programming war rooms


  • Pointing (laser and finger)
  • Secure communication, storage
  • Interview room
  • Press area
  • Maps
  • The Big Board: overview of backbone, theater of conflict, flight path...
  • Clocks (time zones, timers, alarms)
  • Monitor alerts: klaxons and blinkenlights
  • Assignment boards, personnel tracking
  • Audio loops
  • Room audio
  • Consoles (purpose built desks) with screens, role signage (e.g. Health, Navigation, ...)
  • Paperwork inbox on top of consoles
  • Game tables with flags and models
  • Hi-resolution displays
  • Foam boards
  • Reference manuals
  • Audience room (glassed-in back room for watching during press-worthy moments)
  • Magnetic white boards
  • Conference table (group talk and info staging before putting up on walls)
  • Bulletin boards
  • Automated text retrieval
  • Data mining configuration tools
  • Decision modeling
  • Data visualization
  • Data storage and linking
  • Color coded information sections
  • Stand alone, movable presentation panels
  • Graphs, diagrams
  • Lists of: people, processes, status
  • Broadcast television / streaming video displays
  • Broadcast radio / streaming audio players
  • Signage from previous projects/missions (e.g. NASA flight patches)
  • Telephones
  • Lectern for presentations, ceremonies
  • Externally accessible webcam to see who's in the room
  • Stickie notes