17 March 2018

Future Risk: Citizen Soldiers Extinct...

It is not often that we see an editorial article that prompts us to get the scissors out of the drawer to cut it out of the Washington Post.  It remains in the saved articles file from 2009 and is relevant still to this day.

This Opinion written by Matthew Bogdanos, is worth some additional consideration from an "Operational Risk Management" perspective.   He is a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and now an assistant district attorney for New York City.  He writes:
"A nation largely founded on the citizen-soldier ideal finds itself, following Vietnam and the expulsion of recruiters from campuses, with the military and civilian worlds warily eyeing each other across a cultural no man's land. As budgets shrink future forces, veterans will be fewer and the chasm wider -- to our peril.
No one wants everyone to think and act alike. Diversity is a major source of our nation's strength. But this diminishing shared experience leaves us ill-prepared against global terrorism. As the British general Sir William Butler warned a century ago, "A nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."
We will leave it up to the OPS Risk Managers of the globe, whether to agree with Col. Bogdanos and his comments. What is our take away from his words about "Duties That Are Best Shared?" We think it's quite simple:

How can an "Operational Risk Manager" make effective decisions without having walked a few "clicks" in another persons boots?   Effective decision support from the Incident Command Center is far more effective, if the person making those decisions has relevant and first hand on the ground experience.

In the corporate world, asking a new hired employee to take the week long orientation training, without having done it yourself, is not only bad management, it's reckless governance of the organization.

Years ago after the invasion of Baghdad, this OPS Risk manager (Bogdanos) did what we do every day. He adapted, improvised and overcame risks in order to recover stolen artifacts from the museums.  The investigation was successful because not only was he someone that had experienced what it was like to operate in a war zone, he also was a subject matter expert on much of what was recovered.

If you are going to be an effective risk manager in your government organization, startup or Fortune 500 company, you have to train with your troops in the business unit or at the base. You have to know first hand, what you are talking about.

Without these, "we risk a future without all of us working towards the same ends --whatever society decides those ends should be."

You need to "get out of the building" as we say these days.  Solving problem-sets within your agency or with your "Cash Cow" customer, requires getting right in the bulls eye of the issue.  Seeing it, touching it and hearing it first hand.

Without this insight, you lack the understanding, empathy or compassion for the people who experience the problem each day.  You fail to see how a new approach, process or new system will be better.

If you think this is sound reasoning and you are looking for others to assist you in your problem-solving journey, look no further than the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF).  You will find others who are focused on National Security innovation and have definitely been "outside the building."

Maybe even more vital, is their mindset on disciplines such as Design-Thinking, Lean Methodologies and achieving Decision Advantage.  Col. Bagdanos, "Citizen Soldiers" are definitely not extinct.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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