Self Disruption: Seizing the High Ground of Systemic Operational Design (SOD)


  • Ofra Graicer


Systemic Operational Design (SOD) is the postmodern incarnation of Soviet Operational Art in western militaries. Although low-tech by essence and humanist by character, SOD is another successful Israeli start-up whose inventor, Shimon Naveh, keeps releasing updated versions through experimentation and customer feedback. Like all groundbreaking inventions, two trends follow suit: (1) The ‘Ali Express’ copycats, selling what appears to be the same merchandise but much cheaper; and, (2) Legitimate agents producing generic versions, although all of us know nothing compares to the original. In the past decade it seems everyone is doing design, but many attempts seem like the Telephone Game[1], whereby a word is whispered in a circle of players from one participant to another until eventually, the source is vaguely echoed. The following paper tells the story of Systemic Operational Design from its inception in the Israeli Defense Forces, through its growth in foreign militaries (spearheaded by the US) and coming full circle back to the IDF. It is written from the point of view of IDF’s veteran of Design developing and teaching who is currently employing that philosophy in the highest ranking command course to be exposed to SOD. The paper provides a critical analysis, distinguishing between the three evolutionary phases of SOD, philosophically and pedagogically. As such, it is an open invitation to all novice teachers and students of military design to dig deeper (or go further) in their pursuit of a relevant mode of operation for the senior command. It is the opening shot for an upcoming book under the same name, to be published in 2018.

[1] Also coined ‘Chinese Whispers’ or ‘whisper down the lane’

Author Biography

Ofra Graicer

Dr. Ofra Graicer is an expert in systemic operational design (SOD) and aspiring Generalist a-la Joseph Campbell, working for the past two decades with Militaries and Defense establishments around the globe, towards transforming them into self-disruptive systems.

Ofra co-instructs the Israeli Defense Forces Generals’ Course alongside BG (Ret’) Dr. Shimon Naveh, where they prepare Senior Military Officers for General Staff level of performance, and guide them through the process of devising strategy and operations for the new era. 

Dr. Graicer’s research areas range from Deep Operations to Special Operations and Cyber, where she develops Future Concepts, war-games and simulations. Her book ‘Two Steps Ahead: From Deep Ops to Special Ops - Wingate the General’ has been circulating in leading military command schools since 2009.

Ofra served as a Snipers Officer in the IDF and is educated in Art and Film, Political Science and Security Studies. She lives with her family in Tel Aviv and surfs the waves when the sea is in sync.