Archive for March, 2008

In any organization promotion and selection, as well as evaluation tools, provide the primary “power levers for changing or maintaining culture.” These critical tools, presented as inherently fair, determine awards and control access to positions of influence and control.” They provide specific instructions when tasking subordinates due to an obsession with certainty. The individual as well as the “system” carefully monitor the execution of their instructions, and track all activities and outcomes with the finest attention to detail. Unfortunately, “professional systems and structures are not very adaptable.”

If any organization is to become adaptive, a “Learning Organization,” it must ensure that its personnel system supports its move to a learning organization, and not the other way around where a retained personnel system limits the evolution to adaptability. The organization must learn to be adaptive, while creating and supporting adaptive institutions. The thread of evolutionary adaptability must exist everywhere. It starts with doctrine and strategic leaders, and filters down to daily activities, threads through policies and beliefs, winding its way from the training base to the those teams deployed in the conduct of an array of possible future missions. An environment must be in place to support and nurture the adaptability an organization says it wants in its leaders and employees.



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Thank you Fred for an outstanding answer(s) to the questions posted earlier! Your insights are more important because you are a leader in an organization that deals with 4GW scenarios on daily basis. I may also say that you have demonstrated moral courage because you have implemented innovative techniques to develop you people’s cognitive ability alongside the emphasis on physical courage, physical training and shooting that most law enforcement focus on (all important, but the tangible is easier to deal with while subordinating the mental development to a “nice to know if we have time to do it”).

What I am going to get into more over the next few weeks as I can post (I am going to be on the road the next three weeks working with Army cadre/instructors regarding adaptability development at three different locations) is the most important, and usually missing from all the theoretical discussions of evolving an organization to be adaptive (or called “Learning Organization”) is the “How To.” I am also looking for excellent insights from others, such as Fred Leland, on actual implementation of Boyd’s ideas (which Dr. Chet Richards does well explaining Boyd’s theories to audiences) to their organizations. Another person recently told me from Fort Sill, OK that what they [the Army] is looking for amongst all the theories of adaptability and decision making (cognitive development) was taking the “theory to reality.” Or, as I say, taking the rhetoric to reality.


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LT Leland gave an excellent summary and well said.

First of all, my hat’s off to anyone that ventures out and participates in something like the adaptability conference. It takes moral courage to admit, “maybe I can get better, let’s see what happens here.” More compliments to the person’s organization if the organization was willing to support and encourage its people to get better. Too many organizations focus on the short term profit and simply don’t want to lose control of its people, don’t take the opportunity to make a long term investment in making its people more competent and confident. These attributes are the hallmark of adaptability.

I use a series of different games and scenario based education to involve the students (or participants) in the discussion about how to evolve adaptability in themselves and in their organization. The students end up doing the talking and usually solving or finding the answers to their questions. Each and every time any group does these exercises, they assume that I, as the facilitator, limit what they can do, like asking question to broaden their assumptions and courses of actions, and that I will always say no if they do ask a question, like “can we have more time.”

I will leave you with this thought, after doing this approach with games and getting similar results from audiences the past 50 times, why do students box themselves in? What does that tell us about ourselves and our organizations, when we always assume the negative? How does this limit our “evolutionary adaptability”?

More later. I’ve got to walk my six dogs before it starts raining here in N.VA. Have a Happy Easter.

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I am proud to announce my first post on my blog that will deal with leadership and leader development. I recently returned from an adaptability conference sponsored by Greenville Technical College in Greenville, SC. I was honored to teach a great group of people with the likes of Dr. Chet Richards (COL USAF ret.), COL Mike Wyly (USMC ret.), and Mr. Dale Stewart. The students or participants were great, and appeared to get a lot of what we had to say regarding COL John Boyd, the OODA loop, how to develop adaptability, and how to evolve organizations to create and nurture adaptability.

I will follow up shortly with a summary of my experiences from the conference.

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