Saturday, February 26, 2011

Professional Foolishness

In my days on active duty as a Navy officer, I spent a fair amount of time keeping abreast of the more significant strategy and policy issues related to military service.  I dutifully read the National Security Strategy, National Military Strategy, Forward From The Sea, the Naval Operating Concept, Joint Operating Environment and other such documents. 

Recently, I spoke with an active duty Navy Commander and asked what she thought of the latest National Military Strategy issued by Admiral Mullen.  She looked at me like I had two heads.  She said she'd not read the latest version, nor any previous version.  She told me it was for people above her paygrade.  I may be alone in thinking this way, but I think it is every Armed Forces Officer's responsibility to read and understand such things.  She didn't mind telling me that I was foolish for thinking that because, she assured me, none of her peers think such a thing.

I hope that is not really the case.

Admiral Mullen says we are at a Strategic Inflection Point (SIP). A SIP occurs when a major change takes place in our operating environment. It could be a major change due to introduction of any number of new technologies. Or, a major change due to confronting radically different fiscal environment. Or, it be a change in the Navy's values, or the values of  this great country. Almost always the SIP hits the organization in such a way that those in senior leadership are among the last ones to notice. Today's SIP is no different.

For more about Admiral Mullen's discussion of Strategic Inflection Points, go HERE.


Sean Heritage said...

Truth is too many of us think too many things are "above our paygrade" (A phrase none of us should utter). As a result, we turn everything into a "Flag Decision." Distributed leadership requires we prepare ourselves to operate both independently and in concert with strategic imperatives, sharing a common operating picture along the way. We (IW Community) speak of such a model in our Navy Unified Cryptologic Operations (NUCO) Strategy, yet the very mindset you highlight is the reason we find forward progress so challenging. We all own implementation/execution no matter our current rank or job title.

General Quarters said...

It boils down to old school personal initiative. 80% of any given group can't find their a$$ with either hand. The 20% who can, shouldn't be surprised at the 80% who can't. Pareto Principle.

Anonymous said...

Sean Heritage,

An individual in the contest for president of the United States uttered those very same words about something being beyond his paygrade around 2 years ago. But the words he uses recently are, winning the future (WTF), does that make up for the earlier bobble.

Very Respectfully,

SWO Bubba said...

Completely agree with your assertion that every officer should be interested in these High Level documents. I've seen a distinct difference between those CDR/CAPTs in staff mode and those who are in leadership positions. The later group have to translate/teach/explain those high level documents to their subordinates are inherently more interested.

Anonymous said...

They are long...repetitive...and they seem to come out with a new one thats 180deg off from the previous one by the time you've got the first one figured out.

Seems to me like they are more a guide for how the Navy is going to blow its money over the next few years until someone else takes over and writes another guide to blowing money.