Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wonder why people in the Navy may be afraid to write

The reason Navy writing is horrible is because many naval officers are afraid.  Afraid to say what they mean and share what they think, because they might be criticized for it. Afraid to be misunderstood, to be accused of saying what they didn't mean, because they might be criticized for it.  Or simply afraid to share.  And because of that fear, there is no writing to be criticized, commented upon and improved.  The common thought is that knowledge is power, after all. And shared knowledge = reduced power. So, keep it to yourself.  Quite the opposite is true.  Share your knowledge = increased power for all.

Seth Godin's advice:  Just say it. SHARE IT.  Say it clearly. Say it now. Say it without fear of being criticized and say it without being boring. If the goal is no feedback, then say nothing. Don't write the memo/e-mail/letter/article/note. If the goal is to communicate and share your knowledge/thinking, then say what you mean.  AND PUT IT IN WRITING !!


Brenden said...

Hey Mike, thank you for your service and all that jazz ;). I have a question for you my good man. How much sleep on average does an Information Warfare JO get on average out to sea on an aircraft carrier/small boy? How much hours a week to they typically put in while in port? This seems like one of the few routes the Navy may allow me to go.

Chad W said...

I little late to comment on this; however, I concur.

I think this post should be a direct callout towards JOs (myself included). Our senior leaders already have a legitimate pulpit to articulate and deliver their ideas. Most often these are met with acceptance based on their rank, position, and experience. To have a differing view from a senior officer's experience-based perspective is often perceived as arrogant or pretentious. It takes a savvy communicator to massage delivery enough to avoid this perception. Very few of us, especially JOs, publish our thoughts or suggestions for this reason. This can be the basis for unwanted or misinterpreted professional reputations. Right or wrong, I think JOs are taught to hold our tongues in public forums.

An alternative is to hit up the blogs and electronic mediums such as this to stimulate conversation. An even better alternative are military-centric publications such as MOAA's magazine or even Proceedings. These publications allow for smaller articles from the lesson learned perspective. These are a good starting point for breaking into writing and within unwritten accepted norms.