Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hostile Climate

My Zimbio  Ok, it snowed a great deal today.  But that isn't the point of this blog post.

During the past few weeks prominent articles have appeared in national newspapers about the "hostile environment" many commanders foster in the Army.  The memory that immediately pops to mind is standing at attention at mobilization station as a battalion commander, next to my Command Sergeant Major, collectively receiving a shouted "major a** chewing" at 2:30AM because one of my officers had gone to the bathroom (a port-a-potty)... without her flack jacket... in the middle of the night.

"No one wears those to go to the bathroom in Iraq," she had surmised.

Military leaders have been taught to build toughness... with methods tried and adopted across centuries.  Of course, we must be careful to assume the behaviors of remarkably successful people before us contributed to success (or were somehow overcome in a mix of leadership and luck).  I have been accused of "fostering a hostile environment" myself... an accusation that drove much soul searching for me.

We ask military leaders to do much.  The craft must certainly change as the demographic of our Soldier-base changes.  But please remember when you consider the behaviors of a military commander:  through history, the larger Army didn't always win.  Tactics and strategy certainly were decisive, but vivid pictures of success emerge of brilliant leaders in combat...

Joshua Chamberlain, who ordered his Soldiers to fix bayonets and charge without ammunition, routing Grey Coat attackers and perhaps saving the Union.

George Washington, who was able to convince officers considering overthrowing our new Democracy that staying on and supporting it would truly be best.


Joan of Arc, who managed to help crown the French King and send English invaders packing before being burned at the stake... all before she was 20 years old.

Crimes should not be forgiven.  But be careful what you call a crime.  Combat is a strange and unnatural place... one of the premier tests of human leadership there is... forging tough teams that work together in the face of death/dismemberment isn't warm/fuzzy work all the time....

Sunday, February 9, 2014


My Zimbio  This week my copy of "Big Bang Disruption" arrived.  Downes and Nunes argue that "Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation" has changed irrevocably, that Michael Porter's three generic strategies (low cost, premium offering, niche) have been superseded with a new model.  Specifically, an "undisciplined" (Downes/Nunes word) approach that attempts to compete on all strategic dimensions at once, with better, cheaper and customized, provides a much better model for success in today's new world.

I work with people who are moving aggressively to help our customers understand how process, content and work flow can be managed more efficiently in this new world.  Are we (am I?) as agile as we need to be?  How do I insure I am well placed to add the kind of value that will improve my own returns on time and other resources, to insure the best is available for my little girls and others I care about?

Good questions.  More to follow...