Lon Badgett stated:
"IMHO and speaking as a former field grade officer, the U.S. military is
not a superb example . . . Moreover, there is an astounding amount of
evidence that when that individual or the conditions change, so does the
motivation and the excellent performance."
Well, a posting has jogged me out of my lurking status that I have been in
for about a year. This is one I just have to respond to!
As a current field grade officer I disagree with Lon. Certain services
may demonstrate some of the conditions he mentioned, however, I would not
judge the U.S. military by one individual's experience or set of
circumstances. I have experienced high motivation and performance by
teams and individuals, both peacetime and military actions, in all of the
services. I have watched teams make improvements that were far beyond
anything they thought were possible. These improvements have removed days
from the cycle times of the processes they were working on. Not only did
they reduce cycle time, they increased the quality of the process and more
importantly, they increased safety. This new performance level has been
maintained and even improved over time.
The military I have experienced, mostly Air Force and a joint assignment,
does not apply pressure toward "conformity, mediocrity, and apathy." We,
the Air Force, are constantly looking for better ways of accomplishing our
tasks in a more efficient manner always with the focus of reducing cost to
the military and the taxpayers. There is a lot of motivation and
performance excellence exhibited by our young troops. A lot of motivation
and performance excellence is depressed by higher ranking supervisors that
do not understand or support the concept of continuous improvement, the
Malcolm Baldrige criteria, empowerment, etc.. The culture is changing, in
some circles it is changing more rapidly than in others.
The bottom line is that we have an all volunteer force that is motivated
and wants to do the best they are capable of, or at least the best they
are allowed to do. Frustrations arise when they know there is a better
way but are stopped, or slowed, by supervisors that have not made the
culture change. This is no different than in the civilian business world.
In fact, I interface with a lot of civilian businesses and individuals
that understand what the military, or at least the Air Force, is
accomplishing in the areas of continuous improvement, empowerment, etc.,
and admire the actions we are taking and even benchmark us.
Enough of my ramblings on this subject for now. We all have different
viewpoints of the military depending on our experience and observations.
Hopefully, people will listen to all viewpoints and then make up their own
minds despite the bad press of a few on TV or in the newspapers.
Kim Wilson, Major
Chief, Manpower and Quality Office
"Wilson,K MAJ 355WG/MQ" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>