Saturday, July 24, 2010

"We have burned the boats." Apparently there is no going back on DIVERSITY or INFORMATION DOMINANCE


"Burn the boats," Vice Admiral Ferguson said (in an interview with DIVERSITY INC.), recounting Hernando Cortez's (or Hernán Cortés) order. In other words, "We're not going back," he said. Ferguson said commitment is the foundation of success, and it was a similar statement of commitment that guided the Navy's diversity and inclusion efforts several years ago.


The reorganization is moving quickly, as it should, and will be complete by the end of this year and N2/6, or the Director of Information Dominance, will be the one making the major investment decisions as we compare our 2012 budgets. Someone asked me (Admiral Roughead) this morning, ‘where are you along this timeline?’ and I think the quote from Hernando Cortez applies, “we burn boats, there’s no going back.” "So Jack Dorsett, you’re the helmsman."

As I think about the analogy here, it can be a bit worrisome. Are VADM Ferguson and ADM Roughead telling us "they have burned the boats" for the same reasons Cortez did?

Cortez supposedly burned the boats because:

  • he feared his men lacked the courage to follow him,
  • he feared they would all desert him, and
  • his men were afraid to go any farther
Fear is a powerful motivator. Not the one I would use in this case, however.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunate that there are no links to see the context of the quotes.

The OPNAV N2/N6 reorganization and its downstream impacts still have bumps to get over but the Navy will make it work. Always does, even though this good idea was implemented way too quickly without sufficient planning.

The other subject, that should be of concern, is Diversity. Nice word but the results of the effort have issues:

Piece by Sen Webb:

CDR Salamander blog site:

Anonymous said...

I won't touch the diversity piece, as it is way to flammable.

WRT the IDC and generally speaking, there are far too many self-absorbed careerists in our ranks who many times put their personal agendas ahead of the team's. We see it time and time again, juniors waiting seniors out so they can shift course while they are at the helm and peers sabotaging each other vice working together. This is why we continue to spin circles. The only way to make meaningful progress is to commit to a strategy and build obstacles that make it too difficult for work to be undone. The IDC model is an incredibly positive framework that would not only be undone as soon as a few key individuals retire, but never gotten this far, had it not been for the special authorities given VADM Dorsett as a 3-star and his extended longevity at the helm. The tipping point will be when careerists begin to see the goodness in the model and stop focusing on how it affects them personally.

In essence, yes the motivation to "burn the boats" is the same and for good reason.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that much thought went into using the "burned the boats" analogies. Simply a nautical sounding way to say "there's no turning back."

Especially funny that the quote is used in the context of diversity when some would associate Cortez with genocide.

Anonymous said...

I agree there wasn't that much thought put into the use of the anaology.

As for "I won't touch the diversity piece, as it is way to flammable," that's excactly the point (or the problem). Although I have no argument with the position that the IDC careerists are a problem, it pales in comparison with the issues of diversity and their impact on / to the Navy.

There was an earlier blog discussion about getting toughts to leadership through social networking. This is a topic that needs that open discussion, not avoiding it because it's too hot.