Jun 25

As I (Michael C) am wont to do, I alleged in yesterday’s post that the Army doesn’t employ any operations researchers or management scientists. Since I didn’t see any OR people during in Afghanistan or working at a battalion, brigade or group, I assumed they probably don’t exist.

As I wrote this, though, I knew it wasn’t 100% true.

The Army has a handful, but they mostly do work on human resources or weapons testing, in a branch of careers called “Operations Research/System Analysts”. I mean, it’s right there in the title! (In classic Army form, they had to add two letters to the acronym.)

As About.com describes it:

“The Operations Research/Systems Analysis (ORSA) functional area encompasses the application of analytic methods to the solution of varied and complex strategic, operational, and managerial defense issues....ORSA techniques are important decision support tools, and analysis grounded in objective ORSA techniques provides decision makers with a quantitative basis for the evaluation of decision options. ORSA officers frequently bridge the gap among military, science, and management activities.”

The website goes on to describe how ORSA-selected officers work in personnel, combat and general applications of operations research methods.

While ORSA officers exist, they never make it down to the level which needs them the most: operational levels like division, brigade and battalion. The regular Army (think brigades on down) doesn’t interact or incorporate cutting edge research.

Instead, operations researchers exist in the bureaucratic world of the Pentagon, theorizing about hypothetical conflicts with future (possibly fictional) enemies. Look at the list of jobs on the About.com website: “Military Assistant, Deputy Under Secretary of the Army”, “Analyst in Army Materiel Systems Analysis Agency”, and “Analyst in Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM)”. Those aren’t positions helping the troops; they’re positions writing reports in an office buried deep in some wing of the Pentagon.

The gigantic disconnect between cutting-edge Pentagon research and the troops who who could use that research disappoints but doesn’t surprise me. In a few weeks, I plan to start a series on using statistics, Bayes Theorem and other advanced analytical techniques. I can already envision a lot of commenters saying, “But we used Bayes Theorem to crack the Enigma code!” Or, “I had a friend at the Multi-National Corps Headquarters in Iraq who used logistic regression to plan IED sweeps!”

But exceptions don’t disprove the rule: the U.S. Army doesn’t incorporate operations research into its daily garrison and combat operations.

Yeah, the Pentagon has some cool toys and has some operations researchers and management scientists. But regular units--the ones performing 95% of patrols and providing 90% of intelligence and doing 99% of the work--don’t have those tools. I didn’t have (or use) them in Afghanistan.

That’s why I ask where the management scientists have gone. They didn’t disappear from the Army, but they disappeared from combat.

Mar 12

(Last July, Michael C officially left active-duty U.S. Army service. In an attempt to explain why, he started a series about the Army’s culture, its successes and its failures. Read the rest of the “Why I Got Out” series here.

Also, On Violence is now taking on management. To read more management posts, click here.)

When Matt LeBlanc--the productivity expert, not the Friend’s star--enters a Starbucks, stopwatch and legal pad in hand, he doesn’t just want a cappuccino; he wants to measure the productivity of that cappuccino and the coffee shop making that cappuccino.

He times the barista. How long does it take to make a cappuccino? To take an order? To stock the fridge? If it took the barista five minutes to make a drink, why? Was it heating the milk? Was it reaching to get ingredients?

If Matt LeBlanc can decrease the amount of time spent brewing a cappuccino--say by two and a half minutes--than a Starbucks store could make twice as many cappuccinos. Shorter lines mean less waiting, which means more customers. More productivity means more efficiency which means more money.

That’s all great, but why, on a blog ostensibly dedicated to the military and violence, am I writing about a productivity expert who has the same name as the actor who played Joey on Friends?

Because the Army--and the military as a whole--does not value productivity or efficiency, and it shows. I think we should completely overhaul the Army’s culture to emphasize these values, avoiding past temptations to half-heartedly stop “waste, fraud and abuse” in the name of productivity, but continue on as we have for decades.

I’ve never met a productivity expert in the Army. As far as I can tell, the Army doesn’t have any. Or they do, but they never visit line units. Before more people complain about cutting defense spending, before politicians try to buy more overly-expensive, under-performing weapon systems (check out anyone of our On V updaters for an example), the Pentagon should hire an efficiency expert (or a whole team).

Let’s back-up. Matt LeBlanc--who I heard about on NPR’s "Planet Money" podcast--uses Lean Manafacturing to evaluate workers. Like Six Sigma and other efficiency systems, “lean manufacturers” looks for waste. Matt LeBlanc finds waste in seven categories: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over-processing, and “not meeting customer demand”. Sometimes he can cut the waste; sometimes he can’t. Even if his customer cannot fix the waste, at least LeBlanc points it out.

Do any of those wastes relate to the U.S. Army or the Pentagon? Hmm. Transport? (See Air Movement Command.) Motion? (See “logistics in Afghanistan”.) Waiting? (See “hurry up and wait”.) Over-processing? (See the Littoral Combat Ship.) Not meeting customer demand? (See the F-22.)

While productivity experts normally live in the realm of manufacture and sales, that shouldn’t stop the Army from embracing them. In this brilliant 99 percent invisible podcast, a hospital administrator in Virginia, after nearing bankruptcy, went to an unlikely source to save his hospital, Toyota. Embracing the Toyota Production System, the hospital started turning a profit. More importantly, the health of their patients improved along with the bottom line.

The Army needs a new mindset. Every leader should have one priority: how often do my soldiers train on combat or combat-related tasks? How can we train more soldiers faster and safer? How many soldiers are combat--infantry or engineers--or combat support--like intelligence and signal--and how many are service and support--like finance, human resources or logistics? (Short hand--have more combat and combat support and less combat service and support.) Every soldier I know complains that higher headquarters orders lower units to waste time on unneeded tasks. An efficiency mindset would fight the impending drive of bureaucracy and paper.

I recommend that everyone listen to this “Planet Money” episode. Listen to 99 percent invisible too.  Then, someone who can make the decisions, hire an efficiency expert. Hire a team if possible. Have them answer this question, “How efficient is the Army?”

Nov 09

(On Violence is now taking on management. To read more management posts, click here.)

In Ranger School, the students being evaluated during the day dread the time after the platoon tucked in for the night. While everyone else started sleeping/pretending to pull security, they desperately wondered, “Did I pass or fail?”

The Ranger Instructors (RI) couldn’t tell you that so they used code words. (I realize I just launched into a “when I was in Ranger School” story. So our readers know, while most people went to Ranger School when it was “still hard”, I went to the first “easy” class.)

The next day, the RI and the student would wander into the woods and he would preceed to evaluate your performance. (It’s not as sexual as it sounds.) If he complemented your leadership, like “you clearly controlled the situation”, you probably passed. Same if he praised your briefing skills and said your plan was “tactically sound”.

If, on the other hand, he praised your ability to “instill morale”, watch out. You probably failed. Pack your bags. I mean, no one wants bad morale, but if morale was the best you did, well buddy, I feel sorry for you. No one can judge morale. Leaders--and this applied to ROTC evaluations too--only have so much control over morale. Especially when they take over for a period of a few hours.

Like in sports. Teams with “great locker rooms” always win a bunch of games. But teams that win a bunch of games “have great locker rooms”. It feels like a “chicken or egg” conundrum: what came first, the locker room or the winning? Same with morale. Did your patrol go well because of great morale, or do you have great morale because the patrol went well?

As a result, most management advice avoids morale-type issues. Sure, books and articles will say, “improve morale”, but they don’t tell you how. Turns out, being a good leader who values inter-personal communication with their team, will improve your morale. (This kind of reminds me of Michael Scott buying his office ice cream to boost morale. Michael Scott buying his office ice cream is a palliative for the larger sickness that is his terrible management.)

That said, I have one piece of advice to improve morale. (Besides improving your management and inter-personal communication.) If you are on a team or leading it, give your team a nickname. Yep, I just said,

“Give your team a nickname.”

At every school I attended, I tried to give my squad a nickname. ROTC was DEFL. (The meaning of which is secret.) At IBOLC, we were “the fire team of excellence.” (At Ranger School, we were too beaten down to care.) At the MICCC, we were “Awesome Squad.”

Does this sound silly? Sure, but espirit de corps goes a long way. I mean, brigades, battalions, companies and some platoons have nick-names, slogans, flags, logos and mottos for a reason. The Army already does this really well. That’s why I can list team names right next to my unit names. Fourth Platoon. Destined Company. Battle Company. Blacksheep Company. The ROCK (there are no others). Sky Soldiers. The Legion.

Except that too many leaders stop at that level. Take this concept, and bring it to your platoon, squad, staff section or group of people. Try these steps:

1. If you go to a school of any type (Army or academic) and you break down into teams, bring up giving your team a nickname. I am serious, this will improve morale, or at least be the source of a bunch of jokes, which means happy people, which means better morale.

2. If your platoon doesn’t have a nickname, get it one. Don’t do this by yourself. (I am really talking to that eager, young lieutenant here) Take nominations and vote on it. Get your platoon sergeant’s input. I inherited a nickname--The Helldivers, diving into Hell to rescue lost souls--but that was straight from the platoon daddy. And it worked.

3. Get the platoon to buy in. Put it on a t-shirt. Put it on top of emails. Refer to it in conversation. It will catch on. Let everyone know that “BLANK Platoon” is the best platoon. Like in political dialogue, repeat something enough times and it will catch on.

4. Don’t forget your staff sections. The “S1 shop” sounds boring. And when I ran the S1, I hadn’t yet realized the strength of nicknames. I wish I had given us one. A section that believes in itself, will perform like it believes in itself.

5. Use a name you can tell your mother. In the Starbucks on Fort Campbell, I saw a shirt for a Battalion Personal Security Detachment that used the f-word on it. There were kids behind the soldier wearing it, reading the f-word. That will bring discredit on your unit. (This battalion was in the Rakkasans...so yeah.)

Everywhere I employed the nickname technique worked. Even the haters would eventually start emails to the group titled, “Awesome Squad” or “Fire Team of Excellence.” Instructors often called our unit by its nickname. Other squads or team would make rival nicknames.

Positive morale spreading like a virus.

Nov 08

(On Violence is now taking on management. To read more management posts, click here.)

Imagine two fighting positions--trenches, foxholes, et cetera--in the defense. In the first position, the soldiers sit around waiting for the enemy while their position looks like a teenage bedroom. The soldiers only put up one roll of loosely staked-in concertina wire, dug two foot trenches and barely worked on their fox hole. Trash litters the area.

The other fighting position has triple stacked concertina wire with stakes every three meters (My sapper friend will probably chime in with the exact specifications in the comments.), fox holes dug to chest height, and organized, clean trenches. The second position also has natural camouflage the soldiers put up and they are currently digging alternate fighting positions.

How would you judge the soldiers in each of those positions? How would you judge their NCOs? How would you judge their officers?

The first fails at life; the second might get impact AAMs (an award in the Army). Ranger Instructors evaluating patrol bases would fail the first pair and pass the second. So would commanders visiting COPs, FOBs and VPBs in Afghanistan. We evaluate fighting positions on their cleanliness, defensive strengths, and whether soldiers are actively improving them.

Now pause and imagine the desk in your office (or workspace). Does it resemble the good fighting position or the bad one?

In ROTC, one of the NCOs, a grizzled Master Sergeant, who had jumped into Panama, explained to me four words that differentiate good defense from bad defense:

“Improve the fighting position.”

It applies to squads, platoons, companies, battalions and brigades in the defense. First, get local security. Second, dig a small trench. Third, dig a deeper foxhole. Fourth, emplace obstacles and build alternate fighting positions. Fifth, dig a trench connecting the fighting positions. Constantly improve your fighting position. In a defensive battle, preparation replaces movement, so you can surprise the enemy.

Too few officers apply this sound infantry principle to their offices and work places.

When Eric C first showed up in Italy, I told him that we would execute a plan called, “Improving the fighting position”. No, the Germans weren’t invading; we were improving our apartment. It could always look better, or be better organized. It meant never saying, “Good enough”. My wife and I have a folder for our apartment labeled, “Improve the fighting position”. Make every work space or living area a fighting position (figuratively) and improve it.

While this could be taken metaphorically (constantly improve yourself, constantly improve your team), I mean literally improve the fighting position you occupy on a daily basis. A lot of this is based on “Getting Things Done” principles: the less clutter surrounding you, the less clutter clouding your mind. (In Eric C hippy-feel-good-terms: mental clutter actively saps will power.)

As a benefit, you will look more professional. Imagine a high power CEO. Gordon Gecko. Bruce Wayne’s desk in Wayne Enterprises. The CEO pretending to be Jeff Bewkes on Entourage. Their desks are pristine. They projected control and power over their work, and their companies. Do the same for your office. The vast majority of officers and staffs run offices, not fighting positions but they don’t take the care they would out in the field that they should in their S3, S2 or S1 offices.

Improve your fighting position today with these steps (which apply to all business people and manager and knowledge workers, not just military folks):

1. As I mentioned before, read Getting Things Done first chapter. Download the Manager Tools podcast called, “Decorating Your Desk”. And check out this blog post by MT.

2. If you are moving into a new office, take the weekend before to clean it out. During this weekend, don’t do anything related to work. Simply go through everything in the office to determine what you need and don’t. I don’t recommend having the previous officeholder help you; in many cases he is clinging to junk you don’t need. (More on that in a bit.)

3. If you are already moved in--or you already have an office--schedule a weekend on the calendar and go back to step 2.

4. Make a pile of every paper in the office out of every drawer, and off your desk. Preferably, make this pile outside your office. Actually, make it everything in your office short of furniture.

5. Go through everything and ask yourself, do I need this in my office? Compared to corporate America, the Army has more than enough space. If you don’t need/want it, it can probably go somewhere else. Ask yourself, how do I want to arrange my furniture? What do I want to hang on the walls?

6. Throw away the junk. The goals are getting rid of waste and detritus probably accumulated over years of hoarding. Here are examples I have found in my first S1 office, my second S1 office and as a  intelligence officer job:

- Awards dated before 9/11.
- Training videos on...VHS.
- Over a dozen inoperable printers.
- Four versions of the same manual, with the newest one on top.
- So many classified hard drives that they filled up an entire drawer.

That includes finding junk in lands as far away as Afghanistan and Iraq.

7. The most important step: schedule time to clean and maintain your office every week, and every month. Keeping a clean and organized workplace is exactly like maintaining a defensive fighting position. Do it right, then keep it that way. It doesn’t take a lot, some time on Friday to clean it up and have it good for the next week.

8. Brainstorm ways to improve your office on regular basis. Outside of tossing out the junk littering your office, this is the most important piece of advice. Constantly improve. Ask yourself, “Could this move here? Should I put this there? Should your desk be on a wall so that when you counsel soldiers you aren’t distracted by emails? (Yes.) Can you simplify a file system? Can you find a new bookshelf for the books sitting on a chair?”

The most successful people constantly self-critique and self-improve. Do this for your office too. Then judge your own office and staff section’s office. Is it a good fighting position? If not, start at step 1...

Sep 22

Management matters, as I explained yesterday. But--the good reader might ask--this is a blog about violence, the military and foreign policy. What does that have to do with management?

Simple. Bad management can literally get people killed.

Read the passages about General Tommy Franks in Thomas Rick’s Fiasco. Ricks doesn’t really describe an inept leader, he describes an inept manager. This inept management led to a poorly planned post-invasion Iraq. (As an interesting side note, Franks now runs a Leadership Academy in Oklahoma. I don’t know if they cover management.) 

Most people in the Army seem to know that it doesn’t run well. Every memoir Eric C read has a section on incompetent leadership. The Atlantic claims younger officers are fleeing by the boatload, and mentions management. Clearly, I’m not pleased by Army management. A Colonel lambasted ISAF’s PowerPoint culture, got fired, and all the comments on articles about it said, “Yep, I know what he is talking about.” Frankly, if the U.S. Army were a corporation, it would have run out of business (or be bailed out by the federal government) a long time ago.

I don’t think people feel that way because of leadership, though. I think they feel the effects of bad management.

So I’ve decided to start a series of posts on management. These posts won’t just harbor my petty complaints, though. I want these posts to advise, assist and help, to share what I have learned managing soldiers, and to make the military run better by managing its people better.

If the U.S. Army can’t manage itself well enough to win wars--and win them quickly--the side effect is more death, of both soldiers and civilians, often needlessly. I’ve written before about whether waste in contracting was immoral; I could write a similar post about how horrible mismanagement of people, time and resources gets even more people killed. In simple terms, an effective, efficient and well-managed American Army will keep violence to a minimum. An ineffective, inefficient and poorly-managed American Army can drag two different countries into protracted civil wars.

Management isn’t completely new to On Violence either. A long time back, I wrote about management training and PowerPoint. In fact, a particularly painful Command and Staff meeting originally inspired On Violence. While I was sitting in a doner kebab shop in Milan sipping forties (the smallest size of beer the shop served, amazingly enough) venting my frustrations to Eric C about the military, he told me I needed to start writing about this.

Thus, my first run of posts consisted of complaining and whining, and Eric C threw those away. In that mess, though, were a couple good management ideas, which I plan to share for as long as the blog exists. Here are two free ideas for today:

1. Read Getting Things Done by David Allen.

Time management isn’t taught in ROTC. Or in the Infantry Basic Officer Course. Or any Basic course. Or in any meaningful way by TRADOC. Somewhere, at some school, TRADOC probably does have a course on time management, but way more officers go to Ranger School than receive any training on time management. Way more people go to Airborne school than go any time management class.

Time is the one resource even the Army can’t get more of. Once it is gone, it disappears. And no book does time management (or task management/priority management) better than Getting Things Done.

2. Go to Manager-Tools.com. Especially listen to their podcast on Email, Meetings and PowerPoint.

I discovered Manager-Tools.com when I got a new iPod in 2006, right before I started active-duty. Thank the Maker. I used its advice in every job I had. Particularly, Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne’s management trinity has use in every management job. Period. Don’t take my word for it: their podcast routinely tops the most downloads on iTunes and wins the Podcast Awards.

(And believe us, we aren’t making a dime on these endorsements. On Violence doesn’t have a financial relationship with Manager-Tools.com or Getting Things Done, and we no longer have an Amazon Affiliation. They are simply the two best pieces of management advice on/in the Internet/world. We want to get them out there.)

Sep 21

Before you can start down the road to recovery, the addict must admit his problem. If you are a senior NCO or officer, say this with me:

“My name is [your name here] and I am a manager.”

For whatever reason, the Army, the business community, and the entire professional world have decided that “management” and “managers” are dirty words. Managers push paper. Managers create PowerPoint presentations. Managers micro-manage. Managers are...

Bill Lumberg

But we all want to be Leaders. Leaders inspire. Think Patton driving the third Army. Think Vince Lombardi winning the Superbowl. Think Churchill speaking in front solemn crowds during WWII. Think Leonidas leading his Spartans.

Managers go to meetings everyday. Managers spend hours doing email. Managers assemble, or more often, order others to assemble 100 slide PowerPoint presentations. Managers manage numbers, paper and supplies. (Just so you don’t think I’m presenting a straw man, check out this web page that perfectly captures the stereotypical “differences” between leadership and management.)

So here is my question: if you are in the Army, are you the inspirational leader, or the bogged down manager? Everyone wants to be the former, but we spend our time on the latter. We think we lead, but we spend our days doing email, going to meetings and making PowerPoints.

We can’t become better leaders until we figure out that we are managers. Yes, management is a dirty word, but we ignored it and now most officers/senior NCOs/warrant officers can’t manage their time or communications--at the least, few do it nearly as well as they should.

The relationship between leadership and management is symbiotic, like clown fish and sea anenomes. Clown fish fend off other fish that would otherwise eat the sea anemones. Sea anemones protect clown fish from predators. Everyone--post-Finding Nemo--loves and notices clown fish. But without sea anemones literally enveloping and protecting them, they couldn’t exist. Management and leadership go hand in hand in the same way.

We can’t improve until we admit who we are. Most of us aren’t Spartans. But...

WE.

ARE.

MANAGERS.

When the Army embraces management--by embrace I mean acknowledge at the highest level that its officers and NCOs spend more time managing than leading; by embrace I mean the Army decides to train its leaders on management tasks like time management, communication and subordinate development--the productivity gains will be extraordinary. By avoiding management training--on email, meetings, powerpoint, presenting, organizing, filing, mentoring, coaching--we avoid the easiest/biggest target of opportunity to improve the Army.

We don’t need new vehicles, a new rifle or a new helicopter; the biggest target of opportunity is training our leaders to manage better.

We could have the most inspirational set of leaders in the Army’s history right now. But if we can’t figure out the management, no one will ever know. Tomorrow I will explain how I will try to solve this problem.

Sep 30

At some point in the last ten years, many corporate, academic and military leaders decided that the people they present to are no smarter than three year olds. Why else would they use PowerPoint the way they do?

When I was little, I sat on my parent's lap and looked at drawings and words as they read to me. Soon, I could read them myself. As I grew older, the books became bigger and the pictures became smaller. Soon, the books had no pictures at all. Over the last three years, and somewhat back into college, this process reversed itself; the majority of my Army training, meetings and briefings I attend consist of a PowerPoint presentation where the presenter projects a slide with writing on it, sometimes a picture, and then reads it to the crowd verbatim.

When did we become kids again?

When I ask presenters about this, the defense is always the same, “Well, I expand upon the slides.” Anyone who has sat through multiple presentations knows that presenters rarely "expand" upon the slides but simply rephrase the sentence or add one more sentence of detail. The best PowerPoint presentations rely on pictures, graphs or knowledge, not text. The spoken word conveys much more than the written PowerPoint.

I am not against PowerPoint. But we often forget PowerPoint's purpose: to assist an oral speech. It is a tool and, when used well, it is a powerful tool. When I think of the best presentations that use PowerPoint, they are always from our Battalion Intelligence officers. They have to use maps and graphics to tell their stories. As a result, they must use the slide to convey visual information and their words to tell the story of the speech. The effect is powerful and one I call the "documentary" style. The "documentary" style uses visuals aids to assist the presentation; in the "storybook" style the slides are the presentation. So, let’s move away from reading slides as if our listeners were little children.

Here are 5 tips to tell if you are giving a "storybook" PowerPoint presentation or a "documentary" presentation.

1. Font size. If you use a font smaller than 18 your audience cannot read it. Thus, you have to read it to them. The more writing on the page the less likely you are to have a documentary presentation.

2. Timing. After you prepare your slides, read through them as if you were presenting. (I would say, time yourself when you rehearse your presentation but I know how little rehearsals are conducted in both the Army and throughout the world.) If for every minute you read the slide you have less than four minutes of extra material, then you are probably giving a "storybook" presentation.

3. Body Position. Do you face your audience or do you face the projection of your slides? In a "documentary" approach, you will face your audience to tell them your speech. In a "storybook" presentation you have to face the slides so you can read them yourself. If your slides are printed off in front of you, then do you spend most of your time looking down or looking out at the audience? A presentation is all about the audience and a presenter should always face them and project to them.

4. Putting too much on one slide. This is a vital corollary to point number 1 and the documentary approach. Cramming tons of numbers and excel spreadsheets on a PowerPoint take away from the presenter. This makes it very likely that you will have to read the numbers to the audience.

5. Borrowed not created. If you didn't make the presentation yourself, you cannot expand upon it enough. The Army, for example, loves to share PowerPoints and have units use them to train. This creates situations destined for the "storybook" approach. If a trainer didn't make the slides, how can he give a speech on them? Instead, he will read the slides to the crowd.

Sep 16

On about a biweekly basis, my Battalion conducts a “Leader Professional Development” session. An Officer or NCO prepares a power-point presentation and then reads his slides to the assembled officers and senior NCOs of the unit. The topics vary. We have covered various evaluation reports (NCOERs and OERs in Army terminology), maintenance programs, accountability of equipment, and airborne operations.

Yet, we have never covered how to write emails effectively, how to present powerpoint properly, or how to manage time efficiently. In other words, we train on the big picture items and ignore the daily management tasks and habits that dominate our working lives. Frankly, our professional development ignores the daily reality of life in the Army. Like a football team practicing the statue of liberty play before learning how to tackle, the Army has decided that its junior and senior leaders implicitly know good management behavior.

The Army is wrong.

In the modern Army, these skills are combat skills, used everyday by leadership in a deployed unit. During deployment our company commanders spent hour after hour reading emails. Our missions and briefings came in powerpoint--often unclear and never well briefed. Every night our leadership spent at least an hour or more in meetings. Battalion and brigade staffs spent the majority of their time in poorly planned meetings. The result of bad time management and work behaviors is the loss of countless man hours. And more importantly, it makes us a worse fighting force in the field.

Of course, once a unit gets home the problem multiples. For example, in Afghanistan only company leadership and battalion staff had email access. In garrison, platoon leaders and platoon sergeants must use email to communicate. While our effectiveness is a concern upon redeployment, more worrying is the balance of work and home lives that often suffer when email and meetings eat up soldiers and leader's days.

The main reason the Army doesn't train on management is that the highest ranking leaders have never trained on management. If they didn't get taught management, how would they know how to teach management? Our leaders conduct professional development on topics like platoon attack and defense, and Airborne operations. So, when they must train their subordinates, they train them on what they know: platoon attack and defense and Airborne operations. Further, because our highest ranking leadership never trained on management, they are usually quite bad at managing their time and habits.

Training on management is about degrees. Improvements in email will help today, tomorrow and every day after. The potential gains in time saved are tremendous. In a battalion of fifty officers, if each saved ten minutes a day in doing email our battalion would gain 500 man-minutes, or 8.2 man-hours. Proper time management would essentially add an additional officer to our staff. Proper time management is the core skill all officers need to master in the Army, the blocking and tackling drills of the twenty-first century. The sooner we start the sooner we will see the improvement.

  • 1