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

Indeed, in such a depleted army some might ask whyseveral higher levels are required at all.
As someone who left the awesome thing that was the British Army in 1994 this sounds about right.
Get our shit in order. Take stock. Give NATO what they need .
And then give in. The army is fucked, it’s all about the RN now.
 
if we wanted to really quickly share knowledge how should we do it ? And are there modern tools with which to do it? I.e someone has a great idea like the macro or excel workaround mentioned above.

How do we get it peer reviewed quickly and without stifling levels of bureaucracy. Or is there some modern tool to help put together a community of interest - something better than word of mouth and email?
 
if we wanted to really quickly share knowledge how should we do it ? And are there modern tools with which to do it? I.e someone has a great idea like the macro or excel workaround mentioned above.

How do we get it peer reviewed quickly and without stifling levels of bureaucracy. Or is there some modern tool to help put together a community of interest - something better than word of mouth and email?
Knowledge management is a challenge for all sorts of organisations, some of them far bigger and more complex than the Army and few with the resources the Army has in its schools and in its systems for disseminating doctrine, TTPs, policy etc etc.

Two big challenges; however much you invest in systems to disseminate and share knowledge, they only work if the organisation has a learning culture. There’s a whole thread on here about that.

The second one is how do you make your knowledge sharing systems work upwards and sideways in a hierarchical organisation where stuff flows down from an “authority”.

Like so much challenging the Army and many other mature large organisations, it all comes back to strategic leadership.
 
Knowledge management is a challenge for all sorts of organisations, some of them far bigger and more complex than the Army and few with the resources the Army has in its schools and in its systems for disseminating doctrine, TTPs, policy etc etc.

Two big challenges; however much you invest in systems to disseminate and share knowledge, they only work if the organisation has a learning culture. There’s a whole thread on here about that.

The second one is how do you make your knowledge sharing systems work upwards and sideways in a hierarchical organisation where stuff flows down from an “authority”.

Like so much challenging the Army and many other mature large organisations, it all comes back to strategic leadership.
Big business uses multi-disciplinary work teams where team leadership and composition is related to the task in hand. But as you allude to, it tends to turn the hierarchy upside down and therin lies the problem.
 
Knowledge management is a challenge for all sorts of organisations, some of them far bigger and more complex than the Army and few with the resources the Army has in its schools and in its systems for disseminating doctrine, TTPs, policy etc etc.

Two big challenges; however much you invest in systems to disseminate and share knowledge, they only work if the organisation has a learning culture. There’s a whole thread on here about that.

The second one is how do you make your knowledge sharing systems work upwards and sideways in a hierarchical organisation where stuff flows down from an “authority”.

Like so much challenging the Army and many other mature large organisations, it all comes back to strategic leadership.
Whilst it’s a challenge, units don’t regularly do new things, generally just variations of the same old. It should be relatively easy.
 
Like so much challenging the Army and many other mature large organisations, it all comes back to strategic leadership.
More specifically, to the inability to develop leaders who possess it, or to maximise the value that those who do are able to add, because of brevity of tenure in key strategic posts.
 
Whilst it’s a challenge, units don’t regularly do new things, generally just variations of the same old. It should be relatively easy.
So I’m rather puzzled why you suggested that every unit should have some kind of Czar.

IMHO there is a big need for better information flow and accessibility. @Stonker’s and observation about brevity of tenure of post highlights why. Historically, the Army has posted leaders on a two year cycle in which it’s pretty much accepted that it takes 6 months to get up to speed and people start winding down with 6 months to go. Couldn’t that be optimised by better information management?

More fundamentally; the Army has a wealth of talent and intellectual horsepower in its lower ranks. Very bright, innovative JNCOs and JOs. If only it could find a way to harness that horsepower.
 
So I’m rather puzzled why you suggested that every unit should have some kind of Czar.

IMHO there is a big need for better information flow and accessibility. @Stonker’s and observation about brevity of tenure of post highlights why. Historically, the Army has posted leaders on a two year cycle in which it’s pretty much accepted that it takes 6 months to get up to speed and people start winding down with 6 months to go. Couldn’t that be optimised by better information management?

More fundamentally; the Army has a wealth of talent and intellectual horsepower in its lower ranks. Very bright, innovative JNCOs and JOs. If only it could find a way to harness that horsepower.
In a related sense, I would cite the example of Aaron Edwards, a Defence College and Sandhurst lecturer who has been in post for some time. You might expect Edwards to 'toe the line', but often he doesn't and tells it as it is.

That said he will moderate his opinions on the basis of the evidence and rarely steps into speculative opinion - which is generally good, though I would prefer if some account were taken of evidence that, though available and not yet understood, could also be addressed - perhaps it is, behind closed doors. He is well worth reading.
 
I think you can. There’s lots of work out there about how to develop agile bureaucracies particularly in the public sector.

The over riding conclusion of most that I have read is that, to be agile, a bureaucratic organisation needs a clear common purpose. In an organisation where there is a clearly enunciated vision and purpose, “bureaucracy hackers” will thrive because they hacking shortcuts to deliver the purpose.

But in an organisation that lacks a common purpose, bureaucracy hackers are shut down by those with personal agendas that don’t share the common purpose.

The problem for the Army is that no strategic leader has ever managed to enunciate a common vision. It changes with every CGS. And further down the hierarchy, there are structures that nurture and enshrine a divergent purpose.

A reasonable observer may very well have the impression that the organisation providing the currently, and for quite some time, most effective common vision is indeed Common Purpose . . .
 
In a related sense, I would cite the example of Aaron Edwards, a Defence College and Sandhurst lecturer who has been in post for some time. You might expect Edwards to 'toe the line', but often he doesn't and tells it as it is.

That said he will moderate his opinions on the basis of the evidence and rarely steps into speculative opinion - which is generally good, though I would prefer if some account were taken of evidence that, though available and not yet understood, could also be addressed - perhaps it is, behind closed doors. He is well worth reading.
TBH I’m long gone from reading about defence, however good the author. But more generally; defence should be employing academics and exposing it leaders to academics specifically to challenge the toed line. I’d argue that a Defence College academic who did otherwise is not actually behaving as an academic. Defence leaders should be challenged to think wide and big. No-one ever achieved anything innovative by towing the line.

I’m of the generation that was around when the Defence Academy was formed, ICSC was introduced and the Army became doctrinal. I’ve always thought it stifled thought by doing so.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
More fundamentally; the Army has a wealth of talent and intellectual horsepower in its lower ranks. Very bright, innovative JNCOs and JOs. If only it could find a way to harness that horsepower.
Already done, viz. LCpl Denice Webb.
 
I would make it a uniformed post for a start, but I wouldn't be too precious about rank (SSgt - WO2 or Capt - Maj) i.e. find someone who can do it and do it properly and pay them the going rate - not the £33k pa an MoD C2 earns.
I’m going to disagree ;)

I was a MOD Information Manager before Information Managers were a thing and was actually part of the cross-TLB MOD policy working group, introducing IM and IM Ways of Working on DII(F).

I’m actually partially to blame!

IM (done properly) is a complex and very useful discipline and the continuity provided by a civvy can ensure it’s done properly and consistently. It is a rather technical discipline that requires a high level of IT competency if the unit is going to get the best out of the role.

The main problem with IM is that it was never taken seriously by Unit COs who thought it was just glorified filing, so gave the job to the dead-end civvies (who lacked the skills), or to military clerks (who lacked interest because it was different from the unit admin support they felt they should do).

I knew quite a few Band Ds who I felt could be good IMs, but Band Ds lack authority in unit hierarchies so the role tends to be inflated to C2 level. Additionally, it is meant to be a technical role (so justifies a higher grade) plus the number of ISOs (Information Support Officers) the IM may be responsible for also leans towards a higher grade.

What is important isn’t the grade or service, it’s someone with the mixture of IT skills, knowledge of how the unit operates, what the unit needs, and when it’s needed.
 

giatttt

War Hero
IMHO there is a big need for better information flow and accessibility. @Stonker’s and observation about brevity of tenure of post highlights why. Historically, the Army has posted leaders on a two year cycle in which it’s pretty much accepted that it takes 6 months to get up to speed and people start winding down with 6 months to go. Couldn’t that be optimised by better information management?

More fundamentally; the Army has a wealth of talent and intellectual horsepower in its lower ranks. Very bright, innovative JNCOs and JOs. If only it could find a way to harness that horsepower.

Back issues of The British Army Review, and to a certain extent Soldier Magazine, provide a history of really good ideas, innovative thinking, and the re-invention of every variation of wheel. In terms of information management, even the ability to perform a simple text search on the routine MOD publications would be a good start. Adding all the dissertations and papers produced by the various staff colleges would also help.
 
No one needs to achieve anything innovative. Toeing the line gets you promoted.
Enemies innovates. The other two services innovate. Government innovates. Industry innovates. The environment in which the Army exists is constantly changing.

Actually, I think the Army is capable of innovative thought. As @giatttt notes, there’s a wealth of publications that show innovative thought. What it doesn’t do is execute.
 
Enemies innovates. The other two services innovate. Government innovates. Industry innovates. The environment in which the Army exists is constantly changing.

Actually, I think the Army is capable of innovative thought. As @giatttt notes, there’s a wealth of publications that show innovative thought. What it doesn’t do is execute.
I rest my case.

"That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be, so that it finally comes to seem that, like the manager of the Central Station, you have nothing inside you at all. Not taking stupid risks like trying to change how things are done or question why they’re done. Just keeping the routine going."

 
I rest my case.

"That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities? Because excellence isn’t usually what gets you up the greasy pole. What gets you up is a talent for maneuvering. Kissing up to the people above you, kicking down to the people below you. Pleasing your teachers, pleasing your superiors, picking a powerful mentor and riding his coattails until it’s time to stab him in the back. Jumping through hoops. Getting along by going along. Being whatever other people want you to be, so that it finally comes to seem that, like the manager of the Central Station, you have nothing inside you at all. Not taking stupid risks like trying to change how things are done or question why they’re done. Just keeping the routine going."

See my previous post about #1132 about agile bureaucracies and the need for clarity of purpose.

Until such time as a strategic leader emerges who can enunciate a clear vision for the Army around which everyone coalesces, the organisation cannot be genuinely innovative.
 
You can't have an agile bureaucracy. That's a contradiction in terms: bureaucracy | Definition, Characteristics, Examples, & Facts

Thus, the most basic elements of pure bureaucratic organization are its emphasis on procedural regularity, a hierarchical system of accountability and responsibility, specialization of function, continuity, a legal-rational basis, and fundamental conservatism.
 
Enemies innovates. The other two services innovate. Government innovates. Industry innovates. The environment in which the Army exists is constantly changing.

Actually, I think the Army is capable of innovative thought. As @giatttt notes, there’s a wealth of publications that show innovative thought. What it doesn’t do is execute.

The massive issue is that everything in the Army is intellectually shallow. Nothing is older than a collective 2 year memory.

So some really clever thinking about, say section attacks, is gone within a 2 year collective cycle.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top