Archive for April, 2008

Here are some of my solutions or if I were asked by the Secretary of Defense Gates, “Don, how should I follow up what I said about Boyd at Maxwell AFB by finding, developing and nurturing the mavericks?”

I would reply with “Sir, my recommendation is in order to create and sustain the type of environment required to support adaptive leaders,

1. Form a task force composed of such people despite the fact that their careers may not appear to be “fast tracked” as reflected in their official files.

       a. The TF advises and recommends to the Secretary of Defense on the necessary cultural changes to support the 21st Century Military, such as a personnel reform bill similiar to what Goldwater-Nichols did for jointness. The personnel reform bill could be the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 2010 (DOPMA 2010)(more on this later or just go to www.d-n-i.net and see my briefing The Revolution in Human Affairs under “People”)

        b. Continues to search for examples of adaptability and innovation

2. Publically praise and award signs of adaptability and innovators

3. Take these people and make them instructors at ROTC and the Military Academies

I must again stress that just praising Boyd publically in the audience was a sign of moral courage, and I applaud the Secretary of Defense for doing that. I am simply looking at how to continue the momentum of his talk and emphasis to the officer corps of being more like Boyd.


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One the principles of an ALM is that “every moment of the day, every task, offers an opportunity to teach adaptability, how to think, in places you never imagined.” (How to Teach Adaptability, page 10). One of the most glaring downfalls of most existing leader-centric programs is that they waste their physical fitness time as an opportunity to develop adaptability.

I conducted an analysis of 39 ROTC programs throughout the United States from September 2004 to May 2005 as part of the “Raising the Bar: Creating Adaptive Leaders to Deal with the Changing Face of War” study. During this time, I also asked and received PT schedules from most leader-centric leader courses. I found that the tasks conducted in physical training are effectively addressing most of the physical readiness components. [1]


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The Next Adaptive Leadership Conference

cover_adaptive_leadership1.jpgWe haven’t scheduled it, yet.  But the last one was such a big success that we’ve had a lot of inquiries about doing another.

If you’d like to get on the mailing list for the next conference, please send an e-mail to Joy Finch at Greenville (SC) Tech.

Filed in Leadership

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4th Generation Warfare requires and will continue require leaders that have resounding strength of character and are adaptaing, and in turn developing their subordinates and units to be the same.

The question I would poise to Secretary of Defense Gates after he honored Boyd, and asked officers to emulate him is the “how-to?”

When Army General Peter Schoomaker assumed the responsibilities as Army Chief of Staff in the summer of 2003, I had hope that he would lead change in the Army culture. I still believe after meeting him and emailing him, that he was sincere in changing the Army culture to adapt to 4th Generation Warfare, but the careerists of status-quo waited him out. In his tenure as Chief of Staff, Adaptability became one of the big buzz words alongside change the culture. I would make many officers uncomfortable when asked to attend conferences and meetings when I would ask “How to?”

How do you propose we develop adaptability and nurture those leaders that demonstrate strength of character? What laws, policies and practices, more so beliefs, do we have to address to ensure we develop adaptability and protect leaders of character? I would never get much of an answer.


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I borrowed this from Chet’s site, Defense and the National Interest.

Background: Chet and I have been working (Chet far more than I) with the Norwegian Naval Academy for the past couple of years. They are using my book Raising the Bar to assist in their evolution toward turning their officers into adaptive leaders. Chet and Bruce Gudmundsson (my favorite military historian) recently did an outstanding visit and lecture to the faculty and cadets there on Boyd, adaptability and leadership (I was originally invited, but was committed to taking the Georgetown University’s John Carroll Scholars to Antietam with my good friend LTC (ret.) Allen Gill who is the Director of the Office of Leadership and Applied Ethics at Georgetown.

Below is the excerpt from Chet.

The Norwegian Navy is doing some interesting work in developing tools to measure how well individuals and groups are able to function under a climate that encourages mission-type orders. The development of such a climate is a component of the Joint Operational Doctrine of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Here is a recent master’s thesis that introduces the SPGR (Systematizing the Person-Group Relationship) methodology. Although this paper is concerned with selection rather than development, it provides an excellent introduction to SPGR and its role in creating a maneuver warfare force.

About the author: Commander Stein Forsdahl is a program officer at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy in Bergen where he leads the candidate selection function.

Selection of the Officer Candidate in a Maneuver Warfare Context (1.4 MB PDF)

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Principles of an ALC as a Learning Organization

First, we demanded that new cadre that came into the program erase their memory of how they were “certified” to teach, or how they thought one should teach. “Come in with an open mind, and be prepared to be shocked,” we would warn them. Instructors of the adaptive leader’s course, today’s Army NCOs and Officers should adhere to a four principles (supported by a lot of “sub-principles”) that we developed over time:


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Over time nations or large organizations like an Army, take one of two evolutionary routes: continue to adapt with changing environmental conditions in order to sustain its core beliefs, or become complacent resting on one’s laurels. If it is the latter it is because its very success has led to its isolation to a changing environment. Choosing the hard right over the easy wrong can dominate. Decisions based on facts and assumptions that led to success become dated. In turn the organization or nation should demand that its leaders conduct critical analysis in order to propose courses of action to stay on course.[i]

The right course of action may force leaders to make hard choices, in turn asking its members to change their accepted habits and even make sacrifices. Facing this realization, the other retort to the demands of the environment by those in power, and the citizens at large is the acceptance of mental security by doing nothing, keeping things as they are while pretending to do something through colorful rhetoric and complicated power point presentations. It is a substitution to accepting and attempting to adapt the current and positive way of life to the unknown problems the future may bring. In order to justify doing nothing or making hard choices a culture adapts the “cheerleading effect.”


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