In my experience, the more “professional” MOD tries to become, the worst it performs.In my experience, it's quite the opposite.
The very successful bank I alluded to earlier had absolutely no "common purpose" other than to make money. To that extent, it was as close to being a meritocracy as possible. There was no "mission statement", no strap-line, no greater vision and no headline corporate objective. Leadership was far too busy ensuring that the complex deals the bank was executing were simply good deals. Even the credit department, usually a real hurdle to deal execution, were wholly focussed on improving deal terms to ensure success. For those exposed to finance, you'd probably be surprised that there was no formal credit committee (and no credit department veto). Rather, we business heads comprised an approval committee for large deal approval, where the credit group presented just one voice among many (very experienced voices). That committee included the CEO, who would be across all aspects of important deals.
The ridiculously bureaucratic bank I alluded to was quite the opposite. There, the common purpose, despite being extremely ill-defined and wholly abstract, was a management preoccupation. There, rather than focussing on improving deals by being close to the coalface, managers spent most of their time attempting to penetrate the arcane deal approvals processes, which had no set form and was, as a result, subject to politics and whim. There, the credit-committee was a mysterious group of people, far removed from the businesses and with no incentive to participate in deal improvement towards execution. I spent my first year there, as a global business head, simply trying to map the organisation in order to figure out how deals actually got approved.
I realise that a strategic vision is more important in a military context, esprit de corps if you like, but in a civil or commercial context it can easily become a distraction and a goal in and of itself, rather like the nebulous objective of "diversity". It can easily provide a shield for the feckless and lazy.
ISO9001, IiP, ITIL, Mission Statements, Visions, Objectives, “Leaning” etc. Every one an excuse for diverting resources and effort from delivering what matters.
I remember being in a MOD trial for “Enterprise Social Media” (a sort of Facebook for Businesses). I lasted about a week. It was full of senior people and bright young things essentially discussing how many angels could fit on a pin head. But they all thought it was great because it allowed them to raise their profiles, build cliques, and preach, rather than to share and learn.
The MOD is full of “common purpose”; the problem is there are multiple “common purposes”, they change constantly, and they bear no relation to what the forces actually need.