"Devolving decision making until you are uncomfortable." Discuss.

Discussion in 'Int Corps' started by CRmeansCeilingReached, Jul 30, 2012.

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  1. Was watching a RUSI lecture by Patrick Hennessey (RUSI - Recruitment and Retention in the UK Armed Forces) and found one of his observations interesting.

    In offering suggestions for improving retention, Hennessey singled out a particular lesson learned from joint US / UKSF operations in Iraq from 2006/7, identified by Gen Stanley McChrystal: the importance of "devolving decision making until you are uncomfortable."

    Not just the generally accepted devolvement of decision making; but "as far as you can go, until you are uncomfortable." (in this context, Hennessey seemingly following established management thinking that increased responsibility = increased job satisfaction = improved retention).

    Just wondered what people might think of this suggestion in the context of the INT CORPS. Good idea? Done already? Doomed to failure? Too many complicating factors? Not applicable to intelligence / counter intelligence operations? Do we think we're good at devolving decision making to the right level? Do we agree with the concept of devolving it "until uncomfortable", or only within controllable confines? Across all disciplines, or only in certain circumstances?

  2. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Apologies for barging into the slime forum but I hope you don't mind if I make a few general observations.

    I'm lazy and will happily devolve as much as I can to avoid having to do any work but I do know some commanders who are uncomfortable allowing their subordinates any decision making at all. Indeed they will attempt to micro-manage to the lowest levels.

    Isn't what he is saying 'mission command'. Something we've been talking about for ever but not always very good at putting into practice.
  3. Sounds more like " give him ( or her) enough rope and they'll hang themselves."

    However that how Shamus, HS, Reb, MV, myself and a good many others operated and survived.

    Sometime there was no one there to delegate things to us, you just got on with it. Some of us swam, and one or two CONCO's* sank. Often through no fault of their own....I'm reminded here of the case of a JNCO going out on a lone meet in Livno (?) being lined up for the high-jump until a couple of crusty LEs ( who happened to be passing the gallows) asked who his supervisor was?

    During the Borneo confrontation one JNCO went round from Kampong to Kampong on his own collecting Int, hiding whenever he heard anyone coming. Apart from locals and bad guys, the only people he ever saw were "them".

    Life 's a circle, I hear about it happening 10 years before I joined, did that stupid thing myself and caught someone else doing it 20 years later. The common thread? a JNCO, with no one to turn to who thought he was doing the right thing, took a risk and had a go.

    Thats what we thrived on and yes, we had job satisfaction **

    We took extra responsibility, we got the job done. The better Commanders asked us questions to let us shine, not humiliate us, at their leaving dos the CoS and the SO3s and during RIP, ruperts quietly told us their soldiers could not do what we did.

    Did we have big egos? I should hope so ;-)

    So is it any different today? was there anything new at RUSI?

    * CONCO = Like COIST but there is only one of you, on your first tour( doing screening***).
    ** job satisfaction: apart from Group Concentration, sticking maps, Sig Sqn parades and painting vehicles.
    *** Screening = a bit like de-briefing but without the training
  4. Hear hear. I understand that the int collection function now requires the operator to wear a "high-vis" jacket while working, in order to conform with a EU regulation. I approve of this; the opposition wouldn't do otherwise. either. (Only joking; law is, of course, the bedrock over which armed conflict temporarily swirls...).

    In the modern commercial world, however, attitudes may be a little different. I've recently experienced another side of the coin, in which major operational decisions are only made either at the very top, or bafflingly, by contractors with no real stake in the outcome. My company recently managed to throw away about $4.2bn by this means, and you can guess what happened to the share prices. They had adopted an East German model of both leadership and management, and strangely, it didn't work. The company is nervously awaiting a takeover as I write...
  5. I was always taught that "I did what I thought was the right thing to do, at the time" was the thing to say.

    As the basis of my defence, of course.
  6. "We took extra responsibility, we got the job done "

    Or in my case I took two months extras as a Lance Corporal because a Corporal was too pissed to do the job and the Warrant Officer who gave me the extras (illegally) was pushing for his commission and wouldn't let anyone stand in his way - I'm so pleased to report that I held up his commission by a full year when the General sided with me - I guess he (the General) based his book "Bunch of Fives" on that little episode.
  7. With projects I've managed I've always held a view that I would delegate everything apart from that which law or goverance required me to retain. Where I've been allowed to do this by far sighted superiors, I've always brought it in on budget and time. Where I've been micromanaged myself and forced to do likewise, I've never brought one in one time.

    As someone once said to me early in my career "Tell people what you expect from them and when, but not how to deliver, you'll be surprised at their ingenuity". It's served me well over the years.
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  8. Seek forgiveness, not permission.
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  9. Bit hard after you've lost troop/ village.
  10. And good luck at the inquest.
  11. A rare post from me, but I always found that in general the WO2/boss was pretty relieved when you were confident enough to be totally adamant that you were right about your area of responsibility.

    "You absolutely sure Cpl...?"

    "Yeah. No worries."

    If you were wrong, then stand by. I have only been in the corporate world for a month, but it seems the same deal.

    If it had been different I doubt I would have lasted as long as I did.