McKinsey&Company appointed to advise the Army WEF Jan 16

jim30

LE
Not open-source, but If you're willing to risk your PERSEC then PM me a DII address and I'll see if I can turn up a copy next week.

Can you add me to the dist list too please?


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jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Can you add me to the dist list too please?


Posted from the ARRSE Mobile app (iOS or Android)
Assuming I find it, no problem. (I'm working with the author at the moment, though, which should help - it's a surprisingly small community in defence analysis)
 
Personally I think that the British public will have more tolerance when the end is seen as worthwhile.............so it's more of a gut feeling.
I think you over-estimate how much the average Brit is bothered about the forces, including about casualties. The forces footprint and size is now so small that a large part of the population has no contact with the forces, let alone a direct connection through a friend or relative. Add in the liberal left-leaning stance of much of the media, educational establishment and other opinion formers and you have a situation where much of the public doesn't give a stuff..........until their house floods.......

I appreciate that we are both talking gut feeling here, but there isn't much evidence to suggest that public opinion drove withdrawal. There wasn't a huge anti-war movement and Afghanistan wasn't a huge hot potato in the 2010 election, sitting way below the economy, NHS, Europe and other public services in survey of voter priorities.

It could be argued that the Coalition was able to pull the plug on Afghanistan without much objection because people simply weren't bothered. Had it been a major issue for voters, there would have been debate in both directions.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I think you over-estimate how much the average Brit is bothered about the forces, including about casualties. The forces footprint and size is now so small that a large part of the population has no contact with the forces, let alone a direct connection through a friend or relative. Add in the liberal left-leaning stance of much of the media, educational establishment and other opinion formers and you have a situation where much of the public doesn't give a stuff..........until their house floods.......
I think the analysis in the rest of your post is entirely valid, but I think the enormous support for Help for Heroes suggests that the public actually does care about the armed forces. It's probably not expressed in the most constructive manner in terms of defence priorities, but there's definitely been a strong feeling of 'our boys' among the population over the last decade or so.
 
I think the analysis in the rest of your post is entirely valid, but I think the enormous support for Help for Heroes suggests that the public actually does care about the armed forces. It's probably not expressed in the most constructive manner in terms of defence priorities, but there's definitely been a strong feeling of 'our boys' among the population over the last decade or so.
I would concur with this.
How long it will take to subside post Afghanistan would be interesting.

I think that there is for a substantial part of the UK a warlike streak hidden deep in the psyche.

I agree that PC Ness and a left wing agenda have had their effect, but had the recent Paris bombing been in London I think there will have been a lot of baying for blood.

And a hardening towards religious accommodation.
 
How long it will take to subside post Afghanistan would be interesting.
Young soldiers, for whom the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan (and the associated, well-publicised repatriations of the dead) was a near-constant feature of their adolescence and early adulthood, might well assume that strong, favourable public sentiment towards the armed forces is a given, and an enduring phenomenon..

Older soldiers, and those who have read a little more of the social history of the British Army, will be more acutely aware that Brit public sentiment is both fickle and ambivalent where the military is concerned.

Kipling's Tommy is spot on: any serving soldier who imagines they are now entitled - in the wake of two strategic disasters that look shockingly bad even when compared to the Suez debacle - to bask in the perpetual admiration of the man on the Clapham omnibus, is setting themselves up for serious disappointment.

Best to brace oneself for it being due not very much farther down the line. It'll happen (sure as eggs is eggs) before very long.

May even be happening now: recruitment figures are a good bellweather.
 
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I think the analysis in the rest of your post is entirely valid, but I think the enormous support for Help for Heroes suggests that the public actually does care about the armed forces. It's probably not expressed in the most constructive manner in terms of defence priorities, but there's definitely been a strong feeling of 'our boys' among the population over the last decade or so.
I suspect this is less about the armed forces, and more about the UKs charitable nature.
https://www.cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-publications/caf_wgi2014_report_1555awebfinal.pdf

Interestingly the UK prefers to give money 3 times more the global average, rather than help a stranger or volunteer

One could also argue that since 1997 and the whole "princess of hearts" crap, that the UK public has shown a preference for the emotion of the event rather than the facts ( I have a link somewhere to a rather heated Charlie Brooker rant about Jade Goody and Schrodinger's Cat).

Wootton Bassett repatriations also raise a question on visibility and un related public response. Was the change to Brize Norton as a venue noticeable in terms of attendance from those not in the close family network ( inc regimental)?
 
I agree re Agile. The problem is agile is really a management philosophy, but the IT industry has (wrongly) claimed it and as usual written a very profitable but almost useless methodology around it.

Suddenly Agile Coaches are demanding massive rates, books and courses are being sold and you can be certified as Agile, whatever that means, with a one week very expensive course.

However Agile has nothing to do with software. Its origins go back to japans economic boom of the 1960s. With little understanding of Western market design, and with Deming showing them how to improve quality, Japanese manufacturers were faced with two problems. Firstly as product faults were uncovered and improvements developed, they had to be rapidly incorporated into production lines. Secondly as product demand become apparent designs and even products were changed to suit market opportunities.

From the beginning products were improved during production runs and annual models were released. It is easy to forget now that the mini existed in the same design and with the same faults from 1959 to 1967. Even then it had very minor changes until the 1990s. Mini owners from those early days will recall what happened in heavy rain and why WD40 sold so well....

The Japanese changed the way we think. We now expect faults to be rectified, and we expect new models every year or so. IPhones, cameras, cars, computers, all change and improve every year.

These rapid changes meant a rethink on design and production processes. Designs have to be achieved in months not years, solutions have to be developed in weeks not months. The Japanese achieved this via agile management -something they had to develop to overcome the traditional linear thinking of the culture.

Agile is about lateral thinking, time boxing and cost boxing. Despite what Agile Coaches will insist, it is not about story cards and standups. It is about the maximum capability that can be achieved with a predetermined budget and in a given window of opportunity.

Agile works because of the 80/20 rule. Most cost and time overruns occur because of attempts to achieve that remaining 20% of scope.

The defence forces have managed in an agile manner in the past. Dunkirk being a classic example. Others would be micro examples like the localised armouring of Bedford water tankers in Aden in 66.

But we don't manage it at all well on the macro level. I can only speak from an Australian perspective, where material procurement has been an unmitigated disaster for decades. The problem extends beyond the obvious procurement arena. We are too slow to develop suitable tactics, often in a reactive response to a far more agile foe. Terrorism being a good example.

Back to McKinsey, they strike me as a lot of clever people obsessed with linear thinking and the development of methodologies to deliver such thinking. The military mastered this back in the Napoleonic wars.
 
However Agile has nothing to do with software. Its origins go back to japans economic boom of the 1960s.
I wouldn't argue with much of that, except that Agile didn't come out of the IT industry. Agile's roots may go back to the 50s and Toyota, but only really in that both Agile and Lean are iterative approaches. The real momentum that led to Agile came in the 90s, first with Rapid Application Development. It wasn't until 2001 the the Agile Manifesto appeared out of the Snowbird; to give it its full title, The Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Agile may have taken practices out of lean, kaizen et al, but it took in plenty of ideas from elsewhere and it was always about software.

At its core, Agile is quite different from the lean manufacturing processes. Quoting from Jim Highsmith, one of the original Agile Alliance members, writing in 2001 when the Manifesto was launched:

"In order to succeed in the new economy, to move aggressively into the era of e-business, e-commerce, and the web, companies have to rid themselves of their Dilbert manifestations of make-work and arcane policies. This freedom from the inanities of corporate life attracts proponents of Agile Methodologies, and scares the begeebers out of traditionalists. Quite frankly, the Agile approaches scare corporate bureaucrats at least those that are happy pushing process for process sake versus trying to do the best for the "customer" and deliver something timely and tangible and "as promised" because they run out of places to hide."

No doubt the defenders of the military status quo will be along saying that Agile only applies in e-business and that the Army doesn't need to think about it, but I can think of few organisations that are more adept at "make-work and arcane policies" or that have so many "bureaucrats .......that are happy pushing process for process sake".

On a wider note and addressing your observations about Agile coaches, stand ups, story boxing etc al, Agile often gets hijacked by procedures people who need process and organisation on which to hang their hats. And it regularly amazes me how few Agile experts have actually read the manifesto; its far easier to slavishly follow a process than to understand a philosophy.

Others have noted similarities between Mission Command and Agile. I don't see many parallels between the two philosophies, but maybe that isn't the point. Perhaps there is a parallel between the hijacking of Agile by process people and the Army's long-running struggle to properly implement Mission Command; too many people get hung up on process......
 
I don't see many parallels between the two philosophies,
There is one, and it is fundamental. The delegation of decision making authority to relatively low levels of management, which in turn requires excellent horizontal information flows, all of which threatens silos, and those at the top of them.
 
I think we are discussing two very different areas here, hence the confusion:

1. Agile as a concept and philosophy – mission command.

2. Agile as a process and methodology – agile software development


Agile as a process and methodology

The 12 people who met in the Snowbird Resort certainly didn’t invent Agile. It had been around even in software development since the mid 70s. Nor did they actually address Agile – neither the four key values nor the 12 principles mention the fundamentals of Agile philosophy: time boxing, cost boxing, or governed autonomy.

And yet that is what Agile was sold to the business as – a means of preventing slippage, cost blowouts, and autocratic decision making. And in true IT fashion it has morphed back into bureaucracy and poor delivery, together with “geekiness” with talks of “Chickens” “Pigs” and other such rubbish, storycards, walls and standups, all of which are processes not concepts.

The result has been that Agile is rapidly heading into the same inefficient maze as waterfall. The last Standish report I looked at showed very little change in success ratios, other than for small projects, despite the mass introduction of Agile.

Why? Take my current project. The business estimate it will cost $8 million, I estimate $25m. We will continue to run sprints until the business signs off the UAT and accepts handover – irrespective of the number of sprints, the cost, or the time delay. We are bound to go over budget and time.

My project is stuffed from day one. Neither the business nor the IT team have grasped the Agile concept that you allocate your $8 million, that funds about 20 sprints that covers everything, including training, productionising, handover etc.

Then that’s it. If only 30% of the scope is achieved in those 20 sprints then its tough titty. We only had $8 million.

Agile as a concept and philosophy

Agile as a concept is quite similar to Mission Command. Fixed resources used to constrain coal face decision makers as they achieve high level objectives in the most suitable manner.

Back to the Japanese – they had a release date for a product and a fixed cost allocation for resolving known problems, and/or taking a new design to production. It’s the classic Agile concept of time and cost boxing. The new Toyota must be in the showrooms by mid-July, there is only $100 million allocated to the model, there are 16 serious faults and 70 minor ones, and a complete interior redesign and new colour schemes to be implemented. Pure Mission Command. Junior engineers determine which of the faults can be rectified, which interiors can be incorporated, which colours can be offered. The governance comes via the time box and the cost box.

If it were an IT project it would be all or nothing, and the model would come out 3 years late and cost $300 million.

The Army Experience

The army are like my board of directors. They want 100% of all objectives achieved, by midnight tomorrow, and you have a company minus to do it with. Just like my directors they wont understand when you only clear half of the AO.

My point is Agile is about Lateral Thinking, not Linear Thinking. The army are masters of linear thinking. Lateral thinking is hammered out of junior officers in training and snuffed out by the mindless drudge of bureaucracy. Our foes are masters of lateral thinking. When one tactic doesn’t work they come up with another one very quickly, and we consult the pams trying to find the DS solution.

Mckinsey won’t help introduce Lateral Thinking. In fact bringing in a big management consultancy is a classic example of linear thinking.
 
My project is stuffed from day one. Neither the business nor the IT team have grasped the Agile concept that you allocate your $8 million, that funds about 20 sprints that covers everything, including training, productionising, handover etc.
It is no good trying to achieve significant changes in the achievement of outcomes, by simply changing processes - as your example clearly demonstrates.

'The way we do things around here' is what matters - OK, that is expressed on paper as process maps and RACI grids and any number of other things: but the actual way things are done is not dictated by process maps and charts.

It is dictated by the way the people in the organisation (as a whole) feel about how things should be done - note feel not think

Overlay Agile processes on an organisation that still 'feels' like Waterfall is The Right Way, and Agile will fail. In the same way that British Leyland (Ozzie Osborne's erstwhile employer) failed (while british Datsun prospered) because while the former introduced Japanese technologies, and (nominally) adopted Japanese processes, neither management nor workforce learned to feel, think or act any differently about how they did their jobs. British Datsun took on Jap technologies and processes, but took the trouble to educate their entire workforce in the key elements of the Jap workplace philosophy (fine-tuned, it has to be said, in order to subvert and supplant the Anglo-Saxon work ethic exemplified by Mr Osborne and his co-workers) such that the desired results were (and continue to be) actually achieved, to the ongoing benefit of Management, Workers, and Customers - not necessarily in that order.

The army are masters of linear thinking. Lateral thinking is hammered out of junior officers in training and snuffed out by the mindless drudge of bureaucracy. Our foes are masters of lateral thinking. When one tactic doesn’t work they come up with another one very quickly, and we consult the pams trying to find the DS solution.

Mckinsey won’t help introduce Lateral Thinking. In fact bringing in a big management consultancy is a classic example of linear thinking.
I agree with you analysis, and I'd say your conclusion is a good bet.
 
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I think we are discussing two very different areas here, hence the confusion:

1. Agile as a concept and philosophy – mission command.

2. Agile as a process and methodology – agile software development
I'm talking of Agile as a philosophy; I don't come from the software industry. But the desire of humans to take charge and to hang their hats on process has corrupted the Agile philosophy to the point where many businesses talk Agile without the leadership ever properly engaging with it. The processes and methodologies fall directly out of the philosophy.

From a philosophical viewpoint, I don't see many parallels between Mission Command and Agile. Mission Command is inherently a top down concept; a means of (supposedly) rapidly cascading down commanders' intent and, at each level, providing freedom of action within boundaries for subordinates to exploit that intent. The whole philosophy of Mission Command is all about hierarchy though, whereas Agile is the opposite; at its core, hierarchy is the enemy of Agile.

The parallels are in implementation; few established large businesses have been truly successful in adopting Agile because their leadership is incapable of driving the cultural change throughout the business.

I concur with the observation that McKinsey's won't engender lateral thinking. Turkey's didn't get a vote last week.....
 
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The parallels are in implementation; few established large businesses have been truly successful in adopting Agile because their leadership is incapable of driving the cultural change throughout the business.
Agree 100%. My problem right now is the company are an old established Australian icon that is in the middle of economic quicksand (despite record profits). It is stuck in the 1950s and they don't want to change. As a sop to shareholders they are offering my project as a "we are fixing our problems" contribution. They don't understand tow key issues - THEY must change philosophies and my project will cost 3X+ what they incorrectly think it will.

I found the same problem in the Army. Everything we did seemed to be wasteful, bizarre and outdated - because it was. I remember arguing once about mess accounts, because the army insisted on using single entry accounting - unlike the entire world. The reason for the single entry went back to the British Raj in India, and the use of an abacus by local bookkeeper wallahs. Show them an excel spreadsheet with double entry on it and they had a cardiac arrest.

But it goes further than double entry accounting. We still stood to at dawn because in Africa in 1900 the Boers would use the half light to sneak up on you. My pointing out that these days the enemy would turn up dressed in a burka and trigger a suicide bomb at noon, prior to a mass assault when everyone was at lunch, didn't go down well.

Maybe the real problem is the army has linear hierarchical promotion. If you can stand the mindless bureaucracy, get through the pointless courses and not lose it, you will rise to become a decision maker, by which time you will be fully indoctrinated in the process.

I hate to say it, but maybe we take a bunch of 16 year old COD gamers and get them to tell us how to fight in the 21c.

In the same way, my company needs to junk its entire management tiers ans bring in a flat structure of 20 somethings with business degrees.
 

HE117

LE
Could I just inject an observation or two from a slightly longer perspective..

I have been a Loggie all my life, however I have served mainly in HQs both in G4 and G3.. I also have experience of management theory and methodologies and can cut some mean code (if I really, really have to...!)

The comparison of staff dynamics and civilian management practices is an interesting one, and you can go far back in history with examples of how methodology and technology have been used by both over the years... don't forget that COBOL was developed under the steely eye of (Auntie) Admiral Grace Hopper and that much of modern scheduling methods came out of Rickover's work on the Nautilus programme...!

From my experience, most problems come down to boundary issues; either an inability to reconcile objectives or to communicate requirements. From everything I have seen, the key to success is to define boundaries and ensure that they are effective. It follows that in a hierarchical structure, the role of the "higher" management function is to facilitate the workings of the lower structure by setting their boundaries and ensuring that they are working. Too often, the management focus in higher formations is that of the ignorant direction of the lower level process and micro management. This is what leads to the exponential growth of bureaucracy..

I think there is a fundamental difference in the way military and civil organisations need to work if they are to be successful. The balance of speed of attack/reaction v efficiency v sustainability is rarely the same. I don't want to spin off into Porter etc, but the prerogatives, although similar, have often significantly different outcomes.. competitive advantage is not the same as strategic warfare and we need to remember this - commerce is rarely a zero sum game!

Too often, methodology has been seen as a magical way of overcoming ignorance - I suppose in the past we used to burn chicken livers to determine the outcomes of battles..! Rigorous methods can deliver high quality outcomes, but only when they are applied correctly by experienced operatives and subject to qualified judgement by a balanced and competent audience. What systems and methodology will not do is allow you to employ inexperienced and unqualified staff as a substitute! All this does is to enable an organisation to f*ck up faster..!

IMHO there are three routes to disaster in organisational management: Methodologies, Outsourcing and Consultancy.. Use these well and you can gain, however use them badly and you will catch the organisational equivalent of cancer..!

Commercial organisations fail into bankruptcy or takeover, Military organisations fail into chaos and death - never forget it!
 
In the same way, my company needs to junk its entire management tiers ans bring in a flat structure of 20 somethings with business degrees.
Really? Dodgy degree with no experience of business or even life. Recipe for disaster. The reason the world is organised in the current manner is that overall it has been proved to be the most effective way, not the most efficient.
 
Really? Dodgy degree with no experience of business or even life. Recipe for disaster. The reason the world is organised in the current manner is that overall it has been proved to be the most effective way, not the most efficient.
I was being slightly facetious, but in Australia the lack of business qualifications is a serious issue in senior management. What worked in the 70s and 80s no longer works today. Its a brave new world, and doing what grandad did wont cut it.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
My point is Agile is about Lateral Thinking, not Linear Thinking. The army are masters of linear thinking. Lateral thinking is hammered out of junior officers in training and snuffed out by the mindless drudge of bureaucracy. Our foes are masters of lateral thinking. When one tactic doesn’t work they come up with another one very quickly, and we consult the pams trying to find the DS solution.

Mckinsey won’t help introduce Lateral Thinking. In fact bringing in a big management consultancy is a classic example of linear thinking.
Agreed with a lot of that, apart from this. You are generalising too much. To use some partially random examples:

1. Loggies, Gunners and Signallers quite probably are masters of linear thinking, quite possibly incapable of doing much more, and quite possibly we don't need or want them to.

2. Teeth arms officers (possible exception of AAC) are simultaneously encouraged and discouraged from using lateral thought. Many of the building blocks they are taught are linear. But how they use those is often quite lateral. Any even half-way competent infantry officer in the field tends to display this. Cavalry even more so, even if in their case it is often due to habitual immaturity.

3. Many staff officers are incentivised to become linear thinkers in one way (following processes), but equally even the half-way decent ones adopt very extreme forms of lateral thinking (doublethink and adapting to local culture / whims of influential persons) in order to reconcile contradictory and confusing rules and direction.

4. Int Corps or J2 people require (don't often get it, but even so) a bizarre mix of linear and lateral thought. The analytical side is resolutely linear, the conclusions and application of that analysis requires significant lateral thought.

5. Most J3 commanders at OC and above I have met are totally capable of lateral thought, indeed that is their main mode. That's what the "good ideas club" usually means.

Thing is, all these categories are not exclusive. J3 officers can be - often are if they are WTE - highly linear staff officers who demonstrate the desire and capacity to think laterally while in command. The problem isn't that we have officers who are incapable of lateral thought, or even that we drum it out of them: the problem is we have too much of an overriding culture that prioritises linear, deterministic process where it is unsuitable. The qualities you require of a good Defence logistician are not the qualities you require of an SF OC. While we continue to pretend that they are, and impose one-size-fits-all career systems and organisational structures to suit, we won't get the most out of the genuine potential that exists among and in us.

It is possible that a management consultancy could at least make that point. Whether we can adapt to it is up to us.
 

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