#60 Changing the Way We Think

A little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to attend a two day session at Johns Hopkins University where the Asymetric Warfare Group was hosting a conference on Outcome Based Training and Education (OBT&E). One of the principle members of the conference was Maj (Ret) Don Vandergriff, the author of the book "Raising the Bar".

In response to post number #59, Don sent me a note the other day and asked me if I would post a link to an article he had written for the AUSA's Institute of Land Warfare. I am happy to do so, and would ask you to check it out at the link below:

For just a moment, I would like to comment on 1 particular section of Don's article, because it seems to me that if you understand what I have been saying with regard to OODA loops, then this paragraph makes perfect sense and validates that teaching or mentoring or getting Soldiers to understand the OODA concept is a critical step to developing the leaders we need - in all walks of life - for the 21st centuy world.

Consider the following from the introduction portion of the article:

"The challenge the Army faces today is not one of over-thinking situations; rather, it
is the failure to think clearly in situations that require sound judgment at junior levels,
and leadership’s hesitation to believe that juniors can or will think clearly. Soldiers
and junior leaders who are trained or conditioned to “look” at the situation—i.e., to
assess, exercise judgment and make decisions—are more decisive, deliberate and
correct in their actions. This is particularly important in the complex environment of
full-spectrum operations. The most important capability needed for the Army Future
Force may well be thinking Soldiers and junior leaders who seek after the “why” of a
situation, task or directive, to understand and make better use of the purpose behind
it. And the future is now."

OODA. Pure and simple. People who are "trained or conditioned to 'look' at the situation-i.e, to assess, exercise judgment and make decisions - are more decisive, deliberate and correct in their actions."

One sentence that succinctly defines why the OODA cycle is critical to leader development. The ability to 'look' at the situation equals both the Observe and Orient portions of the equation. A young leader must be able to rapidly see something happening, process what it's potential outcomes are and why it is occurring and then make a decision that will take advantage of the rapidly changing circumstanes to effect the desired result.

While I thoroughly agree with Don's assessment of both the problem, and the solution being offered, I personally believe that we must start this process with a much more thorough understanding of our personal Orientation. Without developing the individual's ability to see himself/herself accurately and then recognize where that Orientation is actually affecting how they view their environment, I believe we there is still the possibility to create negative outcomes based upon a faulty understanding of the operating environment.

My concerns notwithstanding, what this article points out to the rest of the Army is that OBT&E and the Adaptive Leader Methodology are the way the institution will effect leader training for years to come. It is encumbent upon the Operating Force to learn how this shift in training method will impact them, their units and their expectation of Soldiers. OBT&E breifings and workshops are available and anyone with an interest in creating a dynamic leader development program that translates into increased battlefield capability should avail themselves of these resources.

I want to thank Don for taking the time to read my postings. Along with the folks from the Army Center of Excellence for the Professional Military Ethic, I believe that my place in the discussion is centered around the idea that OODA is a manner of thinking and acting at the individual level that has a place in leader training venues whether they are ethical, tactical, or global. We all live in a complex world. OODA, OBT&E, and ALM are critical ingredients for successful engagement in any forum.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.