Saturday, March 23, 2013

Has your wardroom discussed this?

Collaborative leadership is a powerful tool and in that spirit, we offer the attached document for your consideration. It was written by a group of passionate junior officers and senior enlisted Sailors and is fully endorsed across the IW/CT Community Flag Deck. The words did not originate with us, but our commitment to them will be unambiguous:
  • Cultivate Specialized Expertise 
  • Take Collective Ownership 
  • Invest in Core Competencies 
  • Foster External Partnership 
We expect that our collective actions as a community will be aligned with these guiding principles, as well as the overall culture outlined in the document, and we ask you to hold each of us accountable for the same. The perception of our actions being misaligned with these words would be counter- productive, so we ask for honest, constructive, and regular feedback. Tell us what we need to hear, not what you think we want to hear, and we ask that you make the same philosophy clear to those under your charge . Please make time to read this document and discuss it with your peers, seniors, and subordinates. Don't let this document be a piece of "shelf-ware". We must each do our part to turn these words into meaningful action .

The entire document is available HERE.


Mario Vulcano said...

With the support of CDR Sean Heritage and CID Unit CoC, this document inspired me to develop and execute the “Invest In Tomorrow’s Leaders Today” initiative for students attending the Information Warfare Basic Course (IWBC). Below is the initiative that we have added the course.
• Welcome to the Cryptologic/IW Community (VADM Rogers) (VTC)
• Leadership Perspectives/Insights (leverage key IW officers) (VTC)
o Promote a culture cooperation within the IW community
o Encourage to collaborate
o Encourage delegation and empowering
• Big Four NIOC (VTC)
o Enable CO/XOs to engage IWBC students regarding expectations and command vision
o Allow Training/Placement officer speak to training, qualification and employment
• Master Chiefs Perspective (Senior enlisted from Corry Station)
o Explain the proper relationship between the division Officer and division Chief
o Explain the purpose of the Chief Petty Officer’s mess
o Explain the purpose of the CMC/SEL
o Explain the enlisted advancement in rate process
o Explain divisional operations, such as divisional quarters, work assignment, counseling, evaluations and evaluation rankings, awards and DRBs.
• Detailer/OCM Community Overview (Millington) (VTC)
- Explain placement and promotion process
- Explain the detailing process/special assignments
- Explain education opportunities
- Explain ICD contributions in the Navy and Joint Operations
- Note: Watch OCMs promotion planning video prior to VTC
- Note: Already conducted for each IWBC class.
• FITREP/EVAL writing
- Explain the purpose of FITREPs and Awards
- Explain the senior raters’ perspective
- Student chop/red-line actual FITREP/EVALs. (Discuss feedback afterwards by staff)
- Student chop/red-line actual Award. (Discuss feedback afterwards by staff)
- Students write BIOs/Letters
• Ethics, Critical Thinking and Decision Making with Capstone Case Studies

Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat said...

While I agree with the fundamentals...a lot is left to the imagination:

- What does it mean to invest in core competencies? If CNO, SIGINT and EW are the core, what do we need to do to develop this?

I say this because for SWO/SUB/AIR this is easy: you work as a DIVO, then a DH, then an XO, and a CO, and you've "mastered" your warfare area.

IW is not that easy. We need better guidance as to what makes good CNO, SIGINT and EW expertise. Some tours are better than others, and if you've "maxed out" on SIGINT, there needs to be that feedback so that you move onto a CNO or EW job.

- Collective Ownership is nice, but I'll play devil's advocate. I sadly see that we normally have the 1/3, 1/2, 1/6 rule in most commands:

1/3 of the folks do about 2/3 of the work.

1/2 of the folks do about 1/3 of the work.

1/6 of the folks are worthless and don't do a darn thing.

Don't we want to keep the top third at all costs, and cut out the bottom sixth? And yet, how many times have we let the bottom sixth get away with laziness and continue to promote?

Food for thought, I like the intent, but I think too much of the execution is left to chance.

Mike Lambert said...


All valid points. This is something you all own. You can help further define it, refine it, change it and implement it.

I liked your 1/3, 1/2 and 1/6 rule. I think that less than 1/3 actually do more than 2/3 of the real work, especially on staffs.

We can't get enough people to take ownership and some COs just won't even discuss it with their wardrooms. Some COs rarely talk to their wardrooms as a group about anything.

Sean Heritage said...

Mario's response to this document is spot on (and we are having so much fun executing the action plan he developed as a result of the foundational principles). This was never meant to be a strategy and it surely wasn't written to communicate the HOW. This was written to define the WHY and the WHAT, while empowering the collective (or at least those who care enough) to collaboratively explore the HOW. This was the Ref A to which Mario could point as he took ownership to make IWBC better. This was the Ref A to which NG36B could point when people asked why he was so interested in fixing the reserve IWO qual process. This was the Ref A to which IDC Self Sync could point as we continually find new ways to add value. The very issue highlighted by NG36B is the reason why we felt the community was not ready for a strategy, our culture was (and in many cases is) not ready. As Peter Drucker noted, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Writing a strategy (which by definition includes HOW) with our culture was futile when we wrote this. The execution is not "left to chance", it is left to us and remains a reflection of those who care enough to execute. Some of us should be very proud of the execution we have seen as a result of this document. Many of us should put ourselves on report for waiting to be told HOW to execute. I shared a hard copy of this document with a LCDR on Friday. First heard for this hard charging individual. Not necessarily a poor reflection on the individual, but certainly a poor reflection on us.

How many of us are doing anything with the IDC strategic documents signed by VADM Card and VADM Rogers? Too few! And most of those few are executing only because they were tasked. WE can DO so much better and WE can BE so much better, but only IF we truly want to. We all should ask ourselves how WE as individuals are executing ISO the WHAT and WHY articulated by our most senior leaders.

Anonymous said...

Not discussed since I have been here in Hawaii.

Jim Murphy said...

I know Mario does good work and works hard at it, but this initiative raises many questions. Most of the topics listed in his initiative are not IWBC-specific; they are basic KSAs for a Division Officer in any warfare community. Items like selection boards, FITREPs, the Division Officer - Division Chief relationship, Enlisted A-I-R and the like don't belong, in my opinion, in a formal warfare-specific course-of-instruction. This is not to say the topics lack value because they certainly do not, but why are they in an IW course? Were the topics not being addressed in other professional development opportunities like Wardroom training? In this atmosphere of reduced budgets and pressure on training commands to reduce training time, it doesn't seem logical that non-IW specific topics should be added to the curriculum. Assuming the length of IWBC was not extended, what topics were removed from the curriculum to allow the addition of these? Is the goal/purpose/existence of IWBC to introduce junior officers to Information Warfare, or is the course viewed as division officer training (maybe with a sense of the old CDOC, with less emphasis on Cryptologic and more emphasis on Division Officer Course)?

Anonymous said...

I find it a bit counterintuitive that a community that want to seek "information dominance" over its adversaries openly publishes such a document (to at least a couple of billion people) signed by its top leadership. The apparent unbridled enthusiasm to share seems to overshadow common sense.

Joe Johnson said...

I was ecstatic when this document first hit the street, as it was the first of its kind (that I can recall) since the community began morphing several years ago (e.g., shifting from Cryptology to Information Warfare, disestablishing COMNAVSECGRU, etc.). I was equally ecstatic that the document was inspired and developed from the bottom and then endorsed at the top by our community Flags. While I agree that O5/O6 COs must embrace it to get the traction we need to move forward, we still need active and regular pulsing from our Flags (and the senior officers on their staffs) to ensure movement and synchronization across our widely dispersed community. Some specific thoughts:

- We all have too many things on our collective plate, so the degree of O5/O6 engagement and action will depend upon personalities and background - UNLESS there are specific demand signals by HHQ. It's no secret that non-deliverable requirements are the first to fall off the plate. A bit more direction (and communication of expectations) from above will also help ensure consistency when officers PCS (e.g., my relief won't consider some efforts as my personal "pet rocks" and throw them off his/her own plate). This gets to a previous poster's comment about execution or progress being "left to chance."

- Our Flags and their staffs could help by communicating the various efforts and progress that is being made across the community in executing the plan. This would synchronize efforts, reduce redundancy, and "encourage" further buy-in and action from those commands/orgs that are slower to engage.

- Some of the ideas called out in the document may require shifting of priorities and/or resources. Since not all NIOCs' MF&T are created equal with respect to the combination of SIGINT, CNO, and EW they plan/execute, the priorities should come from HHQ.

- I like the value of "Emphasizing Specialized Expertise" - but do we put our money where our mouth is? Much of the public discussion is about the IDC, and not as much on the IW (Cryptologic) community. We talk about how 18XX competitive FITREPs, future 18XX promotion boards, etc., will make the IDC stronger. The more we focus on IDC and the convergence of our designators, the less we appear to value the very specialization that we need to encourage within our community.

I agree wholeheartedly that we should not feel compelled to defer all decision-making to our seniors, but we still need their continued engagement to communicate priorities (ten "Number 1" priorities = NO priorities), synchronize the efforts of a very diverse workforce (both at NIOCs and embedded in the Fleet), shift resources where necessary, and ultimately hold us accountable for results. Without this type of engagement, we'll get what we currently have: sporadic engagement that is potentially one PCS away from extinction.

-- Joe Johnson

LCDRLDO/6440 said...

"Explain the purpose of the Chief Petty Officer’s mess."

Please do.

Mario Vulcano said...

All great points Jim.

The reason for this initiative is the lack and professional development and mentoring within the IW officer community. We understand this is not the function of IWBC, but there is clear need and we are in a position to influence for the better. A key phrase in the document Mike posted is to “invest in our community’s reliefs by committing a deliberate training continuum that delivers a community of professionals who will be prepared for a career dedicated to shaping the information environment and to lead the IW community.” The flag deck is very clear in their communications and this is why IWBC is taking action to invest in tomorrow’s leaders today! A question I ask the class is “who is planning to become a Commanding Officer”. Normally one or two (out of 20) will admit their aspirations. I then will ask “what you are doing to prepare yourself for the job”. Normally no one will answer this or some will say they haven’t thought about. They have 15 to 20 years to grow into the job and we want to point them in the right direction and connect them with smart seasoned officers who are willing to pour themselves into these JOs.

As a former enlisted Sailor I had plenty of basic leadership training starting with PO3 through CPO. After selecting to CWO2 I went to Mustang U and received a little more – I think. In the officer training pipeline for leadership there is very little, if any available. Sure there is a DH course, but percentage wise, how many actually attend? Most would assume officers receive leadership training during OCS or the Naval Academy, but in reality after talking to several officers, the opposite is true. Some would say this is the function of the wardroom and I would agree; however, because of “other pressing issues,” wardrooms are failing to provide real mentoring and training. Mandatory mentoring assignment does not work – must be voluntary. Three or four classes back we had a LT lateral transfer who never wrote or chopped an eval/fitrep. This is a failure. While I would say this is not typical for a LT, it is norm for all ENSs some LTjgs.

Although not there yet, we would like to directly collaborate with current/former commanding officers and CPOs (active duty or retired) to build a culture of life-long mentorship in order to cultivate a deep trust and confidence between seasoned officers/CPOs and junior officers/CWOs as they grow in seniority and in responsibility. Corry Station is in a unique position; every new accession and lateral-transfer JO/CWO entering the IW community will pass through IWBC. We are in a position to influence future IW leaders. I see you as a wise and mature retired Senior Chief and I believe you can add to this effort.

Valid points regarding cost and not being an official part of the IWBC curriculum, but I can assure you that every course objective is being met and tested! In fact, we just completed a course update and added four new topics plus the new initiative. The ethics, leadership, and professional development initiatives are scheduled during lunch. We like to call it brown-bagging.

We believe the knowledge potential that our collective community can impart to junior officers and CWOs will pay significant dividends that go beyond the satisfaction of the IWBC curriculum and training objectives. It is our hope that they will remember this hands-on, professional knowledge and personal development, and apply it in their careers to strengthen the corps of professional IW officers.