What systemic issues would you change in the MOD or in the single Services?

Maybe. There isn't an obviously better way of doing it though, which is why pretty much all western armies use broadly the same system of 2-3 year posts. You've got to have some kind of career progression to allow the organisation to function and if you don't have a war to kill people off then there isn't much choice but to move people through posts at about that pace.

I'm pretty confident the average tenure of command positions for both the US and UK in WW2 was significantly less than our peacetime 2.5 years so it's not the tenure that causes issues per se.
The average tenure of an S&P500 company is 5.2 years. The average tenure of those on best performing CEOs globally is around 15 years and current thinking is that they produce their best in the last 5 years of their tenure. This article from the Harvard Business Review The CEO 100, 2019 Edition makes interesting reading.

Now, we could argue that there are big differences in what constitutes best performance from a corporate CEO and what constitutes best performance from a General. It’s also much easier to judge the former as we have the numbers. But I wonder if it that is relevant.

I suspect, using the language of the article, that the military leadership cycles from the honeymoon period to sophomore slump and back when the next leader takes over.

I also suspect that the sophomore slump is exacerbated by the fact that both the commander and commanded always know the second year leads to the end of tenure. There comes a point at which both sides cease to invest in the relationship because it is lifed.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
How is Abbey Wood mis-managed exactly?
compare it to the IDF version.

shame they can't be deployed, they are an expeditionary force in themselves.
 
The average tenure of an S&P500 company is 5.2 years. The average tenure of those on best performing CEOs globally is around 15 years and current thinking is that they produce their best in the last 5 years of their tenure. This article from the Harvard Business Review The CEO 100, 2019 Edition makes interesting reading.

Now, we could argue that there are big differences in what constitutes best performance from a corporate CEO and what constitutes best performance from a General. It’s also much easier to judge the former as we have the numbers. But I wonder if it that is relevant.

I suspect, using the language of the article, that the military leadership cycles from the honeymoon period to sophomore slump and back when the next leader takes over.

I also suspect that the sophomore slump is exacerbated by the fact that both the commander and commanded always know the second year leads to the end of tenure. There comes a point at which both sides cease to invest in the relationship because it is lifed.
All that without even without a mention of the pernicious institutional blight impsed by leadership churn on many, probably most, possibly all major procurements under uniformed leadership, which not only imposes avoidable cost and delay, and seldom results in optimum results, yet reinforces toxic behaviours by - unintentionally - rewarding individuals for them.

Joseph Heller coulda written it.
 
The average tenure of an S&P500 company is 5.2 years. The average tenure of those on best performing CEOs globally is around 15 years and current thinking is that they produce their best in the last 5 years of their tenure. This article from the Harvard Business Review The CEO 100, 2019 Edition makes interesting reading.

Now, we could argue that there are big differences in what constitutes best performance from a corporate CEO and what constitutes best performance from a General. It’s also much easier to judge the former as we have the numbers. But I wonder if it that is relevant.

I suspect, using the language of the article, that the military leadership cycles from the honeymoon period to sophomore slump and back when the next leader takes over.

I also suspect that the sophomore slump is exacerbated by the fact that both the commander and commanded always know the second year leads to the end of tenure. There comes a point at which both sides cease to invest in the relationship because it is lifed.
I know more than a few senior Officer who are there for 3+ years in position.

And again, drawing on business examples is fine as long as we are completely honest in not comparing apples and apples. It is easy for a non-bottom fed, highly mobile jobs market to sustain both growth in experience (both depth and breadth) in the lower levels of management, whilst also having a head in place for 10+ years. I don't think that is possible in an Armed Force.
 

Mr_Relaxed

War Hero
The average tenure of an S&P500 company is 5.2 years. The average tenure of those on best performing CEOs globally is around 15 years and current thinking is that they produce their best in the last 5 years of their tenure. This article from the Harvard Business Review The CEO 100, 2019 Edition makes interesting reading.

Now, we could argue that there are big differences in what constitutes best performance from a corporate CEO and what constitutes best performance from a General. It’s also much easier to judge the former as we have the numbers. But I wonder if it that is relevant.

I suspect, using the language of the article, that the military leadership cycles from the honeymoon period to sophomore slump and back when the next leader takes over.

I also suspect that the sophomore slump is exacerbated by the fact that both the commander and commanded always know the second year leads to the end of tenure. There comes a point at which both sides cease to invest in the relationship because it is lifed.
But they only remain in place as CEO in companies where the metrics work - whether that be dividends or share price.

How do you translate that into the military?

Because the 3/4 year cycle is one you see in industry as well. One place everyone knew that the Group was a stepping stone for the CEO, as he was on the fast track to greatness, whilst he ripped up everything in sight so he could add "Change manager" to his narrative and wake up a sleepy company. He was a PITA to work for but he was a bundle of energy and demanded the subsidiary MD's be the same.

Just because someone is in post for 15 years doesn't mean they are constantly innovating - in my experience, it means they are less likely to rock a very successful boat, so gentle hands on the tiller. And when it goes wrong, they won't generally be dynamic enough to fix it.

And the military like dynamism - politicians I would argue feed off it.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
compare it to the IDF version.

shame they can't be deployed, they are an expeditionary force in themselves.
Thats not explaining anything. Please explain how Abbeywood is mismanaged?

And by the way they can be deployed, I have DE&S staff supporting some of our ships at sea today and in the Gulf on operstionsl ships.
 

Mr_Relaxed

War Hero
All that without even without a mention of the pernicious institutional blight impsed by leadership churn on many, probably most, possibly all major procurements under uniformed leadership, which not only imposes avoidable cost and delay, and seldom results in optimum results, yet reinforces toxic behaviours by - unintentionally - rewarding individuals for them.

Joseph Heller coulda written it.
Businesses do the same though - an MBA from this school, a degree from that University. There's an accountancy mafia that make the Rifles look like amateurs.

Let's face it, we recruit people like us. We spend 30 minutes on interviews when we made our minds up in the first five. I saw an article some time ago that said interviewers spend the next 25 minutes justifying their decision.

We do the same thing with people we meet. Husbands of your wife's friends is a good measure of this if you think about it. Do you like them all? Or do you gravitate to the blokes with a similar outlook on life as yourself?
 
compare it to the IDF version.

shame they can't be deployed, they are an expeditionary force in themselves.
There were plenty of DE&S deployed to HERRICK.

Likewise they are routinely deployed to the Middle East for both RN and RAF. I would presume there are some on nearly all of our operations.
 
But they only remain in place as CEO in companies where the metrics work - whether that be dividends or share price.

How do you translate that into the military?

Because the 3/4 year cycle is one you see in industry as well. One place everyone knew that the Group was a stepping stone for the CEO, as he was on the fast track to greatness, whilst he ripped up everything in sight so he could add "Change manager" to his narrative and wake up a sleepy company. He was a PITA to work for but he was a bundle of energy and demanded the subsidiary MD's be the same.

Just because someone is in post for 15 years doesn't mean they are constantly innovating - in my experience, it means they are less likely to rock a very successful boat, so gentle hands on the tiller. And when it goes wrong, they won't generally be dynamic enough to fix it.

And the military like dynamism - politicians I would argue feed off it.
I’m not suggesting it’s either possible or desirable to have senior military leaders in role for ten or more years. I’m more drawn to the analysis of performance over the first two to three years. Recognise it’s an inevitable fact of short tenures and manage it.

Read the article; it’s analysis is that CEOs actually become more productive and innovative after the ten year point. The have something of an Indian summer.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
So, what's the answer then? Send the commanders home on half pay until the French start getting uppity again, or loan them to the Ukranians so that they stay current....?
I don't think there is one really. At least, not an easy one. I think we have to accept that peacetime armed forces won't produce a Nelson and we should acknowledge that there's more to being a peacetime commander than tactical acumen.

Personally I'd like to see a more explicit separation between tactical command, higher command, and staff, with officers specialising more in the stream that suits them. That approach might create more problems than it solves though.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Please explain how Abbeywood is mismanaged?
It's probably not mismanaged and there's some real talent among the civilian staff but, as @Stonker points out, the two year posting cycle for military personnel doesn't combine well with major capability projects that take decades to deliver.

I think there's also far too much process around the procurement of more minor items of kit. In a previous job in a fairly technical field I found DE&S essentially useless for procurement because the pace of technical advance outstripped their ability to deliver kit to the user.
 
A very basic, but absolutely pivotal change I would make, is this. Introduce an element of accountability.

At the moment - stand fast the Duty Holder chain (and even that only kicks in at OF-5) - there is little accountability for poor performance except for OJAR / SJAR.

We all know the stories of the guy who crashed his frigate into Westminster Bridge, and then got promoted out of it, and I personally know someone who landed an aircraft so heavily it never flew again; the latter individual is now a Wg Cdr or Gp Capt.

The problem with this is introducing accountability without driving toxic behaviours - the fanbois of the USN and USMC probably want to examine their cultures in this respect.
 
It's probably not mismanaged and there's some real talent among the civilian staff but, as @Stonker points out, the two year posting cycle for military personnel doesn't combine well with major capability projects that take decades to deliver.

I think there's also far too much process around the procurement of more minor items of kit. In a previous job in a fairly technical field I found DE&S essentially useless for procurement because the pace of technical advance outstripped their ability to deliver kit to the user.
There is the drawback that if you have an individual in post for a long time, then their personal agenda defines Defence's approach to an activity. I my area I can think of an individual who has been in place for over a decade and they simply "don't believe" in one particular approach - to the point where we have gone from being potentially leading edge on something to falling far behind other NATO nations. Equally, especially when we are working with the same big "prime" company, there can be a tendency to behave in such a way that prioritises the sustainment of a harmonious working environment over the delivery of capability to the front line.
 
I know more than a few senior Officer who are there for 3+ years in position.

And again, drawing on business examples is fine as long as we are completely honest in not comparing apples and apples. It is easy for a non-bottom fed, highly mobile jobs market to sustain both growth in experience (both depth and breadth) in the lower levels of management, whilst also having a head in place for 10+ years. I don't think that is possible in an Armed Force.
I’m not trying to make a comparison at all. I researched CEO tenure expecting to find that their average tenure wasn’t much different to tenure in senior command. My experience in corporate is one of constantly changing leadership; I worked for one US major that had three CEOs in the two years before the third one fired me. I was genuinely surprised by the findings; I expected the sweet spot of performance to be around the 4-5 year point, not 10-15.

My takeaway isn’t that military leaders should spend (much) longer in role. It’s more about working out how to identify and mitigate the sophomore slump.
 
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A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
It's probably not mismanaged and there's some real talent among the civilian staff but, as @Stonker points out, the two year posting cycle for military personnel doesn't combine well with major capability projects that take decades to deliver.
Many military staff are there a lot longer. One of my RMs down there is coming up for 4 years in post to add continuity in a major programme. That's not wholly usual. If you talk to manning desks and individuals you can manage it, it just takes being proactive.

That aside in many of my projects I notice the supplier side PMs and tech authorities move around a lot too, There is a fallacy that industry does it better/different, they have many similar issues.

I think there's also far too much process around the procurement of more minor items of kit. In a previous job in a fairly technical field I found DE&S essentially useless for procurement because the pace of technical advance outstripped their ability to deliver kit to the user.
I think you and I have been here before in different threads.....

Yes, at times buying a gerber can be as hard as buying a FASGW but that's been recognised by MAID and other reviews and if you have the right delivery team and they understand your needs they can now use a far wider range of procurement frameworks than previously they were allowed to.

The process is, and has always, been there to protect public monies, but in doing the right thing it can be cumbersome and frustrating for all concerned and not helped by Cabinet Office and HMT rules either.

But that's not mis-management and as a customer of DE&S I've seen real changes in the last 18m at all levels, but they still struggle with resource which I suspect will always be the case until DE&S North East and/.or DE&S North West open up.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Yes, at times buying a gerber can be as hard as buying a FASGW but that's been recognised by MAID and other reviews and if you have the right delivery team and they understand your needs they can now use a far wider range of procurement frameworks than previously they were allowed to.
It's definitely improving. It's still not where it needs to be and I'd argue that jHub is just filling a gap that DE&S should be in, but it'll probably get there eventually.

Agreed that it's not mismanagement though.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
At the moment - stand fast the Duty Holder chain (and even that only kicks in at OF-5) - there is little accountability for poor performance except for OJAR / SJAR.

We all know the stories of the guy who crashed his frigate into Westminster Bridge, and then got promoted out of it, and I personally know someone who landed an aircraft so heavily it never flew again; the latter individual is now a Wg Cdr or Gp Capt.

The problem with this is introducing accountability without driving toxic behaviours - the fanbois of the USN and USMC probably want to examine their cultures in this respect.
I would absolutely agree with this. I can evidence a recent OF5 who has bull shitted his 1* Prog Dir and StratComm SROs for the better part of three years, destroying a Delivery Team internally with mis-management and mis-direction, and left a significant strategic Programme now facing another 6-18m delay and finding themselves with no money in Years 2 & 3 as he's consumed all of that already.

Myself and peers warned the SRO of this, but they weren't holding the Prog Dir to account properly, he wasn't holding the Prog Mgr to account either - no testing, just believing powerpointware. This is what we need to stop and why a lot of our procurements are delayed or fail.

But as you say, you have to then balance that against the very toxic culture and risk avoidance that pops up in the USN especially.
 
But as you say, you have to then balance that against the very toxic culture and risk avoidance that pops up in the USN especially.
The USMC are worse; in the event of a 'mishap' (US terminology for an aircraft accident) the accepted protocol is that the Sqn CO and XO will be sacked regardless, and replacements moved in, before findings are issued. My understanding from mates (RAF on loan to USMC involved with the F-35 programme) is that some of their procedures, practices and protocols would make your eyes water. Certainly my impressions after a 7-month stint as a Brit LO in Camp Leatherneck was that to get any sensible decision making, you were going to a full Colonel at a minimum. Going to anyone below that rank caused a s**t-storm of blame-shifting, opportunism, attempts to be noticed by the 2*, etc etc etc.
 

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