Commanders or mangers Units or budget centre. Just language?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by BuggerAll, Dec 13, 2006.

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  1. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    We seem to be losing Commanders who have authority over Formations and Units and in their stead we have managers and facilitators who have ‘ownership’ of ‘budget centres’ and instead of Missions we have ‘business objective’.

    In one recent Civil Servant/Accountant missive which I read managers and budget holders where asked to make impact statements on the affects on their business, customers and other stakeholders of a forthcoming change. Nowhere did the writer acknowledge that he was addressing a military organisation.

    Perhaps it does not matter if you call a Commander a line manger, but I think this sort of business school language informs (another buzzword, that in this context means infects) the way we think.

    Perhaps it does not matter if you refer to what the armed forces do as ‘business’ as long as you remember that the business is closing with the Queen’s enemies and defeating them.
  2. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    Perhaps a few more commanders should be taking inspiration from one of our greatest soldiers:

  3. Why are the Armed Forces being forced to speak this language? Just listen to any speech from Bliar or Brown - new-Labour, management consultant, newspeak, PC, buzzword loaded, powerpoint formatted mumbo jumbo.

    Or bollox to you and me.

    Unfortunately they seem to be winning, I have read (and heard) plenty of Officers use this language willingly. It didn't make sense to me then and it doesn't now. A previous CDL was particularly bad.
  4. The Armed Forces need Commanders. Those commanders need leadership ability, which involves, variously, command of troops, the ability to manage those troops, their equipment, their funds, the ability to stick up for the troops against the requirements of the Chain of Command etc etc.

    Line managers do not, habitually, ask soldiers to run towards people who are trying to shoot them. Accountants certainly don't.

    Commanders are, obviously, the line manager for a number of people, but it is just one facet of their work. The next time some budgeteer complains to me about the cost of training our soldiers for operations I think I will point out the cost that c. 150 soldiers have paid in the last few years on behalf of our political Line Management in that they have laid down their lives for Queen & Country/ their mates (depending upon your answers to various recent threads).

  5. As a former officer and now businessman (started from scratch and now doing well) I can only agree with all of the comments already made. Close with the Enemy and destroy them - have not heard that for a while but it is what makes the British Army just that wee bit special. On a business note - I would not let anyof the MoD CMA's I met anywhere near my business -its a profit-making organisation an I would very much like it to stay that way! MoD CMA's are reverse Midas types i.e. everything they touch turns to sh1t. I am sure they mean well but for my money they should mean it somewhere else.
  6. IMNSHO these civil service types who write this nonesense are, in fact, failed managers!!

    The reason behind this is that the first thing you are normally taught is to communicate in the langauge your audience understands. Unfortuately the 'them and us' attitude that seems to permiate the ranks of Public Funded managers (see yesterday's thread on NHS managers for further examples), means that everyone is trying to go one up on everyone else, and language is just a part of this.

    I wonder if the secret civil service notes on the 'hostile takeover' of Iraq are lying around anywhere.


    PS just realised that last phrase started life as a military one, and then got hijacked by Wall Street et al.!!
  7. SKNN,

    You make some good points.

    In terms of command authority some formations are certainly losing their ability to influence their AOR as resources, in a direct 180 from 'Next Steps' (itself business speak but about devolving money down to where it could be best spent) are now inexorably being sucked back into the Centre as they try to reimpose control. Problem is that this Soviet type command model is institutionally flawed and doomed to failure - in the meantime we struggle to make sense of poor decisions concerning local problems that have been made by somebody far removed from the problem (and consume more resources trying to find a work-around to mitigate the effects of these poor decisions).

    In terms of busines speak you are spot on, but caveated as follows. Commanders at all levels need to have a grasp of business language iot to defeat the budgeteers and to be able to influence procurement etc. The problem is they then feel the need to use this language in everyday military business instead of simply translating it into mil speak.

    This results in confusion and frustration and I personally start to switch off very quickly at meetings where business speak predominates, in particular those where the people using it have only an elementary grasp
    of what it actually means (and this occurs are on regular basis).

    The effects are also seen in the 100 page Business Plans, Business Continuity Plans etc that flow unabated from those with nowt bettEr to do, and it has also started to effect Op Instructions, OpO and various directives as they, in parallel with Gordon Brown's tax manual, get bigger and more complicated.

    I myself have fallen into this trap of long-windedness, as evidenced by the length of this post. Perhaps we need to start a 'Keep it Simple' campaign.

  8. Its not just the Military this is happening to, its worse in the NHS

    My wife who is a senior sister, oops sorry Ward Manager, came back from a "Management" course in tears because the trainer had called her stupid, apart from my rage at

    a. Calling my wife stupid who was one of the senior nurses on a very specialised ward by some tart whose done a MBA


    b. The unprofessionalism of a trainer to call a student stupid

    what really gripped my shiit was the fact it was the trainer who was stuipd because she didn't research the NHS. The question was"Who are your Stakeholders" in an organisation like the NHS there are many Stakeholders from the patient requiring medical ttention to the MP who slashes the budget. My wife said that and was called stupid becuase there should only be one group of stakeholders

    Thing is she never told the class who she thought the stkeholders were
  9. Management speak comes from the need of big multinational corporations to have all of their staff speaking the same language so that Joe Bloggs in Scunthorpe can communicate effectively with his counterpart in Singapore (for example). Fair enough - absolutely no problem with that.

    The problem is that there are a large number of people who justify their existence by pretending that only by learning the latest transcendental water-cooler neuro-linguistic communications skills will you be able to suceed in business. These trainers like to pretend that they are bringing big company skills to small companies and before you know it every thrusting young exec is talking this boll0cks, and trying to out do their office rivals.

    Take the phrase 'blue sky thinking'. I like this phrase, it's visual and evocative and it refers to thinking that is both creative and limitless. However, people use it when they just mean 'thinking'.

    Management speak just goes to demonstrate that the speaker does not have a sufficient grasp of the English language to convey their ideas. It is an unfortunate symptom of Bliar's 'everyone must have a degree, it doesn't matter what it's in' society and the increasing use of double speak to hide the true meaning of things.
  11. msr

    msr LE

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