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

As for the politicians, they’re an easy blame. Their tenure in office is finite and often short, whilst the Army’s strategic leadership is enduring. I’d argue that failure to get political buy in is a failure of strategic leadership.
I concur.

But I'd go further: it's an equal (if not worse) failure of strategic leadership to keep schtum about the self-evident lunacy of committing troops to war in the middle east on the basis of a lie, or to aimless operations in South Asia.
 
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But it is the political logic that is at fault behind the failures
That, and the gutless refusal of those on the home straight to a military knighthood, to make abundantly plain, to the political leadership, the limits of what the military can achieve, and the plain futility of putting troops on any contested ground without a clear, unambiguous, commonly understood and achievable purpose.
 
Agile is a methodology, a system.

That, in and of itself, speaks of boundaries.

More importantly, it demands clarity of purpose.

All else hangs off that clarity.
...that clarity also provides accountability too, making it far harder to skive. It made a lot of MOD CS nervous at HQ R Sigs when it was rumoured that they going to AGILE working...explaining what you're going to do each day.
 

bob231

War Hero
Do you honestly think that jo public sees any benefits to bombing Daesh with F35 off a carrier? My reaction to the news feed is that it is a capability looking for a war. I cannot see what benefit the UK gains.
They might do. PR around Carrier Strike has been excellent.

There might be a lesson there for the Army. In my view*, Carrier Strike has been a capability looking for a purpose since the RN decided it wanted carriers (and big ones). But for 24 years or more 1SL and the rest of the RN's seniors have articulated that it's a wonderful thing which the nation cannot possibly do without.

What it is actually meant to offer - other than denuding the rest of the RN of personnel and JCHQ of available escorts - is less clear.

*I admit thorough bias. I see far more purpose in ASW and the RN's Cold War role within NATO.
 
Complete bollox.

You've clearly no experience of working in an Agile environment.

It is everything the army could have delivered through really committing to Mission Command.

I've been working since 2016 in an organisation that took the challenge seriously, implemented it systematically, continues to build on it, has achieved through it astonishing things despite lockdown, left me in awe of what my colleagues are capable of doing, and made me as proud of them as ever I was of the best troops I ever soldiered with.
As you gasp in astonishment, the self same people are burnt out.
 
More importantly, it demands clarity of purpose.

All else hangs off that clarity.

I've said it before, the Navy absolutely nailed this with "carrier strike". Two simple words that not only captured the public's imagination but enabled everyone in the organisation from the lowliest sea-dog (or whatever the RN calls Tprs) to the loftiest Admiral to frame every decision as a question of "does this move us closer to the dream of carrier strike".

The Army tried the same trick with "strike brigade" but only left itself even more confused than before (and it was already very confused)
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
They might do. PR around Carrier Strike has been excellent.

There might be a lesson there for the Army. In my view*, Carrier Strike has been a capability looking for a purpose since the RN decided it wanted carriers (and big ones). But for 24 years or more 1SL and the rest of the RN's seniors have articulated that it's a wonderful thing which the nation cannot possibly do without.

What it is actually meant to offer - other than denuding the rest of the RN of personnel and JCHQ of available escorts - is less clear.

*I admit thorough bias. I see far more purpose in ASW and the RN's Cold War role within NATO.
PR around an excellent product. Not too hard to do.
I've said it before, the Navy absolutely nailed this with "carrier strike". Two simple words that not only captured the public's imagination but enabled everyone in the organisation from the lowliest sea-dog (or whatever the RN calls Tprs) to the loftiest Admiral to frame every decision as a question of "does this move us closer to the dream of carrier strike".

The Army tried the same trick with "strike brigade" but only left itself even more confused than before (and it was already very confused)
‘Strike Brigade’, by contrast, as you say was a rag-tag of stuff cobbled together to address the elephant in the room: we were/are in the poo with Heavy. We haven’t solved the problem and Carleton-Smith’s briefings since the defence review read as contrived.

If you’re having to justify to such an extent there’s a problem. And it’s not with the PR.
 
As you gasp in astonishment, the self same people are burnt out.
AGILE isn’t necessarily about working harder, it should be about working smarter.

My last MOD team started tinkering with AGILE (before I quit to look after my wife) and we found that it can tease out the little things that make a difference.

For example, it used to take ages to get a MODNet account. You join your unit, the iHub apply for your account, it takes x days to create the account, it then takes x days to create the EGS (external gateway) account allowing you access to the internet and external email. 15 days later, you may finally get your log-on.

Using AGILE methods, we mapped the entire account creation journey and found that, if the unit created the account when the posting notice was issued, and if the MODNet contractor changed the priority of their account creation tasks, the account could be ready the moment the new joiner walked into the unit.

Apart from my team (who researched and arranged all of this), the actual effort put into account creation by the unit and contractor was exactly the same.

Work smarter, not harder.
 
AGILE isn’t necessarily about working harder, it should be about working smarter.

My last MOD team started tinkering with AGILE (before I quit to look after my wife) and we found that it can tease out the little things that make a difference.

For example, it used to take ages to get a MODNet account. You join your unit, the iHub apply for your account, it takes x days to create the account, it then takes x days to create the EGS (external gateway) account allowing you access to the internet and external email. 15 days later, you may finally get your log-on.

Using AGILE methods, we mapped the entire account creation journey and found that, if the unit created the account when the posting notice was issued, and if the MODNet contractor changed the priority of their account creation tasks, the account could be ready the moment the new joiner walked into the unit.

Apart from my team (who researched and arranged all of this), the actual effort put into account creation by the unit and contractor was exactly the same.

Work smarter, not harder.
That's the sales patter and in isolation your probably right. But, spend a few years on an agile team and you will see a different side to them and the reality is of kids burnt out and many good older staff dragooned into those teams and pushed onto permanent sick, or out the door. Overtime, agile teams become little more than yes-men and then you see the bad choices start to get made and you can end up with critical failures.

The services has always had the nasty edge of exploiting the wide-eyed and trying to get a tune out of reluctant veterans who know how things work which don't result in your death. Its why the Officer Class love the kids in peacetime and are so keen on shipping out the old, until wartime reminds everyone that learned skills and experience count more than enthusiasm.
 
That, and the gutless refusal of those on the home straight to a military knighthood, to make abundantly plain, to the political leadership, the limits of what the military can achieve, and the plain futility of putting troops on any contested ground without a clear, unambiguous, commonly understood and achievable purpose.
Ah well, it makes an interesting counterpoint for those who criticised People like Jodl with the Fuehrer. At that level you don't say no. You merely wrap everything up in caveats and say Yes Boss. At that level they are all Politicians who can't say no. Lesser minions don't matter.
 
That's the sales patter and in isolation your probably right. But, spend a few years on an agile team and you will see a different side to them and the reality is of kids burnt out and many good older staff dragooned into those teams and pushed onto permanent sick, or out the door. Overtime, agile teams become little more than yes-men and then you see the bad choices start to get made and you can end up with critical failures.

The services has always had the nasty edge of exploiting the wide-eyed and trying to get a tune out of reluctant veterans who know how things work which don't result in your death. Its why the Officer Class love the kids in peacetime and are so keen on shipping out the old, until wartime reminds everyone that learned skills and experience count more than enthusiasm.
Maybe. It’s entirely possible I was lucky - I was headhunted into the team partly because the new boss (who had known me for years) had got annoyed by my habit of coming up with excellent reasons not to adopt the processes and changes he was tasked with pushing through.

He didn’t want any keen wide-eyed yes-people, he wanted experienced people who knew how stuff worked and had a habit of cutting through the crap.

AGILE should be a tool, not an end in itself.
 
For example, it used to take ages to get a MODNet account. You join your unit, the iHub apply for your account, it takes x days to create the account, it then takes x days to create the EGS (external gateway) account allowing you access to the internet and external email. 15 days later, you may finally get your log-on
Or if you're a private soldier in my unit it goes
1. Ask for MODNet account
2. Get told to f*** off as you "don't need one"
3. Have loads of fun putting in leave apps/signing sjar/whatever when everyone has to either use the one bloke in the platoon who has one's account, or find someone else to log in for you
 
Ah well, it makes an interesting counterpoint for those who criticised People like Jodl with the Fuehrer. At that level you don't say no. You merely wrap everything up in caveats and say Yes Boss. At that level they are all Politicians who can't say no. Lesser minions don't matter.
Radio 4 File on Four last night was an expose about procurement very early on in the Pandemic, when a lot of pressure was put on civil servants by Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings to award large contracts without any due diligence or competition. To be fair, the civil servants in NHS X would not bow to this pressure.
 
Or if you're a private soldier in my unit it goes
1. Ask for MODNet account
2. Get told to f*** off as you "don't need one"
3. Have loads of fun putting in leave apps/signing sjar/whatever when everyone has to either use the one bloke in the platoon who has one's account, or find someone else to log in for you
I remember the planned workforce savings across the Services being suggested as JPA was rolled out. Except in the Army where the approach was 'we don't trust soldiers to have an account; the unit clerk will continue to sort this out.'
 
Radio 4 File on Four last night was an expose about procurement very early on in the Pandemic, when a lot of pressure was put on civil servants by Matt Hancock and Dominic Cummings to award large contracts without any due diligence or competition. To be fair, the civil servants in NHS X would not bow to this pressure.
Understandably. Their jobs weren't on the line.
 

Yokel

LE
They might do. PR around Carrier Strike has been excellent.

There might be a lesson there for the Army. In my view*, Carrier Strike has been a capability looking for a purpose since the RN decided it wanted carriers (and big ones). But for 24 years or more 1SL and the rest of the RN's seniors have articulated that it's a wonderful thing which the nation cannot possibly do without.

What it is actually meant to offer - other than denuding the rest of the RN of personnel and JCHQ of available escorts - is less clear.

*I admit thorough bias. I see far more purpose in ASW and the RN's Cold War role within NATO.

ASW is part of the carrier's role. The UK has committed the carrier capability to NATO, and the first exercise of the CSG21 deployment was participation in the transatlantic reinforcement exercise Steadfast Defender 21.

The opposing forces included surface warships, submarines, and land based aircraft.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
AGILE should be a tool, not an end in itself.

Like "systems engineering", it's a label.

Sometimes, a process is declared as "agile" when actually it's "we'll make it up as we go along because we've got no idea what we're doing".

Other times, a flexible, goal-oriented approach of trying different approaches to reach the goal within key constraints (nobody maimed or in jail, say) will succeed quite well, without anyone having mentioned the A-word.

All of these techniques - benefits mapping, morphological analysis, AGILE - are tools, and as a wiser man than I said: "Give a fool, a tool, and they'll be even more able to fcuk things up."
 

Cyberhacker

War Hero
In my experience, the more “professional” MOD tries to become, the worst it performs.

ISO9001, IiP, ITIL, Mission Statements, Visions, Objectives, “Leaning” etc. Every one an excuse for diverting resources and effort from delivering what matters.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity, as Mr Hanlon is attributed to have said.

These are never *excuses* for diverting resources, but poor management *causes* the diversion.

Each of those that you cited should result in *better* performance... and probably would if the MoD used suitably qualified personnel, rather than using such staff positions as a key-development slot in a career plan for generalists.
 

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