When is LO inappropriate? LO13942

Gerald Burch (gdburch@netdoor.com)
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 11:27:41 -0400

Replying to LO13904 --

I have to agree with Maj.Wilson on his recent post - IMHO, the military is
the victim of many unfair generalizations.

They may not exactly personify a team oriented organization seeking
consensus when faced with real, life threatening situations. That's when
all the training and practice kicks in, the "pre-designated"leaders take
charge of the situation, and the chain of command becomes critical. People
respond quickly and certainly without question their leaders instructions
because they have confidence in their leaders and in each other.

So when does a different perspective of this enlightened organization
emerge. The most obvious place it emerges when the leader s injured and
can no longer lead, and the next person in the chain must step in.
Inevitably, the next person has been well trained, knows the rule of his
fallen superior, and steps up without delay to the challenge to lead his
command forward. How many private sector organizations can claim a
succession planning process anywhere close to this?

Where else does the military model shine in a LO discussion? Let's look at
their peacetime activities where drills, training, practice, adaptation,
questioning, teamwork, and emergent learning occur as part of their
everyday activties. Take for example the National Training Center model
where leaders are constructively evaluated peer to peer in a very
realistic practice session. Every decision of every individual is
documented and scrutinized following the simulation - not just to evaluate
performance but to identify learning needs and improve performance in
preparation for the next time they are called to lead. Maybe we could
claim that knowing that this could be for real the next time is sufficient
motivation to keep people from becoming defensive or even compacent about
this intense training, but I suspect the real reason is because they
understand the organizational goals, and they are able to suppress their
individual reactions and concerns for the betterment of the whole. Again I
challenge, how many private sector companies have successfully implemented
peer reviews or periodic and intense competency evaluations of this
magnitude without a staff mutiny?

I have never served in the military, and I also had a preconceived notion
about the rigidity and hierarchall things militaristic. However, I have
recently had the pleasure of working with and going through MBA school
with several ex-material and current National Guard people. They were
wonderful folks, and I was very wrong with my original perceptions of
rigidity and strict hierarchy in the military model. I believe there is
much to be learned in all our organizations from the way the military
practices LO.

Gerald D. Burch
e-mail: gdburch@vpmep.org
Virginia's Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership
James Madison University, CISAT voice:
Harrisonburg, VA 22807 fax:

"Change is certain, progress is not." E.H. Carr


"Gerald Burch" <gdburch@netdoor.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>