Author Topic: Internal Change Impossible?  (Read 21765 times)

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Offline Shrek1985

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Internal Change Impossible?
« on: February 22, 2014, 19:25:04 »
Do you feel that real, significant, positive change from within an organization is impossible?

I increasingly find from my observations that the only way to change an organization is by external forces.

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

     First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2014, 20:20:24 »
It's a bit long, but read this HQ Bloat thread.

What Jerry Pournelle posited as a "law" might apply in DND/ the CF ~ Murphy's Law does, there's no reason why Pournelle's Law shouldn't.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2014, 23:34:26 »
Do you feel that real, significant, positive change from within an organization is impossible?

I increasingly find from my observations that the only way to change an organization is by external forces.

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

     First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Yes, it's possible, but not if you ignore these key steps:

The 8-Step Process for Leading Change

http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Shrek1985

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 19:54:08 »
So...bureaucratic resistance can always defeat anything that has to be processed via meetings?

Recent point brought home during some makeup training I conducted;

It's unlawful for CF pers to get together to arrange(conspire) a change in regulations; this is in reference to unions...but the way it's worded and how we view regulations, is this a roadblock to change?

I mean, is not everything a "regulation" at some level?

Offline DAA

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 20:13:30 »
It's not impossible but more importantly, is whether or not the organization is "ready" and also "willing" to not just accept but pursue the change proposed.

So with a group comprised of people who are devoted to the goals and also dedicated to the orgnization......heck, that's the CF in a nutshell!

Sometimes, within the CF, organizational changes are necessary and sometimes they may not be.  It all depends on who is driving the change and why!
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Offline AirDet

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 21:15:13 »
After 30+ years, change has become an old friend if you know what I mean.
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Offline kratz

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 21:30:05 »
As a clerk,  I saw more change and had to adjust before I even knew the last change overtook old policy replacing current knowledge.

No, that was not a mistake what I typed. 
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Offline pbi

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2014, 19:37:23 »
Do you feel that real, significant, positive change from within an organization is impossible?

I increasingly find from my observations that the only way to change an organization is by external forces.

You may be confusing things here: I don't think it's an "either or". My take is that change from inside an organization is definitely possibly (and there are lots of good military examples: I'll mention two below...), but these changes will almost always be in response to external forces, pressures or circumstances.

Any organization, particularly a military force, is constantly subject to all sorts of external forces, pressures and changing circumstances. It's how they respond that matters. Some militaries will respond effectively, reform and restructure themselves, and do well. Others will do little or nothing to respond, and will fail.

The best example I can think of is the Roman general Gauis Marius, who, in the days of the Republic, utterly transformed the defeated Roman volunteer citizen "militia" army to a professional, long service force that went on to become the disciplined, highly trained and minutely organized Roman Army we all tend to think about. Marius changed just about everything, from weapons and equipment to tactics and organization to terms of service and recruitment. In purely military terms, it was definitely for the better.

You could also look at Admiral Beatty's reforms of the Royal Navy prior to WWI, which created the world's most powerful and capable navy in 1914. Beatty was responding to external circumstances and threats (the rise of the German Navy), but he drove the changes from within the RN.

 In fact, I'd argue that internally driven organizational reform is often better than purely externally driven reform, which can be disastrous because its proponents often fail to understand the institution they think they are improving. The Unification of the Canadian military services is a clear example of how destructive, corrosive, and persistently damaging over a long term such ill-informed  externally "reforms" can be.
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Offline Shrek1985

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 13:46:21 »
Can you give some positive examples of internally-driven change in the CF?

Offline Halifax Tar

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 15:55:48 »
The Unification of the Canadian military services is a clear example of how destructive, corrosive, and persistently damaging over a long term such ill-informed  externally "reforms" can be.

Its funny you mention this.  Because while it seems to be widely recognized as being a "bad move"  few seem to be interested in actually righting the wrongs of it.  In fact as we have seen on here its hotly resisted.

And with almost daily rumors of more unification undoing it will be more and more interesting to see it play out.
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Offline pbi

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 19:41:42 »
Can you give some positive examples of internally-driven change in the CF?

Excellent question. Nothing on the scale of Marius or Beatty comes to mind.
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Offline Halifax Tar

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 19:54:19 »
Excellent question. Nothing on the scale of Marius or Beatty comes to mind.

I dont think we will ever see anything on the scale of Marius or Beatty both of thos took place in a country that was fertile grounds for military expansion/change.  Something Canada has never had, IMHO. 

Perhaps the reccomendations found Mainguy report would be an example of positive examples of internally-driven change in one facet of the CF (RCN).  I would argue it had a profound positive change on the RCN. 

For your reading leisure:
http://www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org/resource_pages/controversies/mainguy.pdf
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Offline pbi

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 20:20:13 »
I dont think we will ever see anything on the scale of Marius or Beatty both of thos took place in a country that was fertile grounds for military expansion/change.  Something Canada has never had, IMHO. 

Perhaps the reccomendations found Mainguy report would be an example of positive examples of internally-driven change in one facet of the CF (RCN).  I would argue it had a profound positive change on the RCN. 

For your reading leisure:
http://www.navalandmilitarymuseum.org/resource_pages/controversies/mainguy.pdf

Yes: that is a very good example. The RCN was (IMHO) becoming a badly dysfunctional place. The Mainguy report went far to fix that. Probably a cautionary tale about the dangers of adopting military cultures that don't really fit with how Canadians think (Yes...I'm talking to all you Anglophiles and US imitators out there...). Possibly the Rowley Report of 1969 , on officer professional education and development, was another one.
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The true measure of a man is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out...

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2014, 20:45:33 »
The Rowley Report is an excellent read if one can ever get their hands on it.  I have copies I made of a version I found at the Staff College Library.  Rowley also did a significant stufy of the Army Staff College 2 year program while he was the Commandant that makes for a good read due to its insightful analysis.
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2014, 11:38:16 »
Dixon's pretty much pegged the challenge of change for any military organization: the Psychology of Military Incompetence


The Nature of Incompetence

Dr Dixon raises many instances and examples from British military history, from both great wars and small actions. Through all these wars, he picks out some common characteristics of military incompetence, for example:

• A fundamental conservatism and clinging to outworn tradition, as well as an inability to profit from past experience.

• A tendency to reject, suppress or ignore information which is unpalatable or conflicts with pre-conceptions.

• A tendency to under-estimate the enemy and over-estimate the capabilities of one ’ s own side.

• An undue readiness to find scapegoats and suppress news about military setbacks.

• A predilection for frontal assaults and the belief in brute force rather than the use of surprises or ruses.

• Indecisiveness and a general abdication from the role of a leader.

• A failure to exploit a situation due to the lack of aggressiveness.

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/08/04/book-review-on-the-psychology-of-military-incompetence-by-norman-f-dixon/
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2014, 15:07:22 »
We've undergone some fairly fundamental organizational changes at DGEMPM over the last three years with more to come, and all those are being looked at by the DRT.  The RCN as a whole is also undergoing some fairly fundamental changes in terms of C&C and areas of accountabilities and responsibilities, in terms of who is responsible for force generation, force employment etc.  It's all been pretty bureaucratic, and there has been a lot of individual resistance, but all of that was internally driven to make sure we are able to better manage/plan to capabilities.  It will continue to evolve as more platforms are maintained by some form of ISSC as opposed to the traditional forms of in service support.   'Evolve or die' comes to mind.

So yes, change is possible.  It can be pretty slow and painful due to all the hoops you have to jump through, but it has been happening in some fairly significant ways for the Navy over the last five years.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2014, 23:27:07 »
This is a pretty good article:

Leading a Changing Workforce
Lessons from the U.S. Army

The end of the military draft and the transition to a force of all volunteers
posed a huge reengineering challenge for the U.S. Army. The
challenge was made even more acute by budget cuts and downsizing.
The principles the Army followed to emerge as a strong, effective
organization provide a road map for civilian organizations that are
also grappling with dramatic change.

http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/publications/lia/lia2103army.pdf
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline ArmyRick

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2014, 11:19:20 »
Very interesting read on this thread so far. For new guys just joining or hoping to join the CAF, this is not for you. You need to learn the basic skills, ethos and discipline of military life.

For those of us that have been Round the block two or twenty times, this is a good one.

I am a firm believer in simplifying things as much as possible. I feel our current organisation has gotten out of hand. However as an Infantry WO, my observations and recommendations would be based more on what I have seen or experienced. I have never served in a brigade or division HQ, so it would be speculative to infor insight on change there or based on other people's experience.
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Offline Shrek1985

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2014, 09:31:51 »
Guys, it's not fair to make me wish I wasn't in school with all this cool crap to read on a day I have to spend 6 hours in class.

Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2014, 19:12:35 »
An interesting foil to the article daftbunny posted;

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/why-our-best-officers-are-leaving/308346/


State of the Union January/February 2011
Why Our Best Officers Are Leaving
Why are so many of the most talented officers now abandoning military life for the private sector? An exclusive survey of West Point graduates shows that it’s not just money. Increasingly, the military is creating a command structure that rewards conformism and ignores merit. As a result, it’s losing its vaunted ability to cultivate entrepreneurs in uniform.

Remember talking to someone about this years ago, and when someone in the personnel studied this, they found a lot of the top performers got out, and bottom performers washed out or quit when they hit a wall, so think this generally applies to us as well, although we seem to be getting better at identifying streamers and planning their posting progressions in a way that more or less makes some sense.  Probably easier on our scale though.

I can think of a number of really excellent senior officers, but I can also think of another group of politically orientated types that will do all kinds of things to delay making a real, actual decision.  Anyway, interesting read.

Offline Journeyman

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2014, 21:33:13 »
An interesting foil to the article daftbunny posted;
Oh, I didn't think you knew him too.   :nod:

Offline Navy_Pete

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2014, 21:44:56 »
Oh, I didn't think you knew him too.   :nod:

Oops!  My apologies.  'Daftandbarmy' got gesthaldted to 'daftbunny'.  Pretty funny visual though, wasn't that in the quest for the holy grail?

Offline Sailorwest

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2014, 14:20:32 »
An interesting foil to the article daftbunny posted;

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/why-our-best-officers-are-leaving/308346/


State of the Union January/February 2011
Why Our Best Officers Are Leaving
Why are so many of the most talented officers now abandoning military life for the private sector? An exclusive survey of West Point graduates shows that it’s not just money. Increasingly, the military is creating a command structure that rewards conformism and ignores merit. As a result, it’s losing its vaunted ability to cultivate entrepreneurs in uniform.

Remember talking to someone about this years ago, and when someone in the personnel studied this, they found a lot of the top performers got out, and bottom performers washed out or quit when they hit a wall, so think this generally applies to us as well, although we seem to be getting better at identifying streamers and planning their posting progressions in a way that more or less makes some sense.  Probably easier on our scale though.

I can think of a number of really excellent senior officers, but I can also think of another group of politically orientated types that will do all kinds of things to delay making a real, actual decision.  Anyway, interesting read.
It is interesting to contrast this with the commonly held view that we currently have too much bloat at the senior officer level. The ones who leave today, probably make this decision in part based on the potential to have a meaningful role at the senior ranks in competition with everyone else. Even if it was a purely meritocracy, there would not likely be enough positions available to retain all of the best and brightest and some will no doubt choose to leave. for me, there are very few senior officers at the Capt(N) rank or above that have not had some significant achievement in their careers that justified the rank. Maybe more in the reserve but still, merit has significant impact on career development.

If we were to cut back on the number of flag rank positions out there, wouldn't this situation described in the article get significantly worse?

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2014, 19:47:30 »
Oops!  My apologies.  'Daftandbarmy' got gesthaldted to 'daftbunny'.  Pretty funny visual though, wasn't that in the quest for the holy grail?

So I looked up 'Daft Bunny' on You Tube and found a pretty accurate description of my life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQRuZZKVuR0

How did you know?  ;D
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline MCG

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Re: Internal Change Impossible?
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2014, 21:27:42 »
Do you feel that real, significant, positive change from within an organization is impossible?
Internally driven change can be difficult for an organization.
 
Even before considering conscious efforts of resistance, an organization has a lot of inertia to overcome if it is to implement a radical change.  The people have been selected, trained, educated, socialized and moulded into the right fit for a particular field and/or job.  In the face of a significant change, many people will not be as good a fit; commanders and staff may find their background not broad enough to fully prepare for the new reality.  On these boards we have (in years passed) discussed the idea of a manoeuvre branch with a common officer occupation; (putting aside discussion of the idea's merit) a change to such a model would see officers up to the LCol level whiteout the optimal breadth of background experience to tackle the potential jobs.  Despite that, they would be able.  After a few years of exposure and experience in the new system, the deficiency would be made-up.
 
Another inertia to overcome is "group inertia" and academic texts will talk about the collective behaviour of unions here.  While DND has unions, the biggest group inertia in a CAF change would involve the big three of Navy, Army and Air Force to be followed by regiments and branches.  The soldiers are inculcated to be loyal first to the regiment or branch, then to the Army and then to the CAF as an afterthought; the Air Force learned loyalties seem to be air community (Fighter, Tpt, Tac Hel, MH) first, then the Air Force and last (again) the CAF; while sailors are indoctrinated to be loyal first to the Navy, then to a coast and lastly (yet again) to the CAF.  Service pride ensured unification failed with senior officers of the old services who resisted, subverted, disobeyed, fought and socialized similar from their subordinates until the process was undone.  Environmental pride again ensured the failure of Hillier's transformations with (again) outright disobedience and refusal to support from at least one ECS.  Tribal pride is not limited to the level of the environments, and the tribes at all levels will fight to preserve their standing. And, organizational resistance is not constrained to various tribes.
 
Often, change is seen as a threat to established resource allocations, existing power relationships, and specialized groups' expertise.  Threats are feared, mistrusted and resisted.  You can see such fear being generated in the military if any radical changes were undertaken.  We often tell ourselves than one's potential competences are linked to uniform colour, hat type/colour and various badges.  To decentralize medical or MP stovepipes back into supported commands ... Suddenly, the affected stovepipes will be warning that very senior infantry and MARS officers lack the knowledge to oversee specialist service provider units within their formations; only the career specialist can manage that field of specialist work.  The national (and maybe regional) level staffs of the stovepipes will see their jobs threatened through decentralization of their command responsibilities, and they will fret over different staffs gaining control over their human and materiel resources.
 
At the individual level, cynicism is a strong barrier to change and The CAF has built a lot of cynicism toward change.  As an organization, we have often been poor at communicating the logic behind changes, how the end-state is intended to look & function, and the path that will be taken to get to that end-state.  This vision may be understood at the strategic levels, but the message does not make it down to the troops living with the changes.  Aggravating the situation is the creation of a very obvious reward incentive for leaders to cause change (the Leading Change bullet on a PER), but there is not apparent counter incentive for preservation of strengths nor is there an obvious penalty for frivolous/damaging changes.  The CAF has created a perception amongst junior members that will arrive to reorganize the unit to pad his PER, and then rush off to the next posting so that the new house of cards can collapse under the next guy's watch ... And while I do not suspect actual malice on the part of any leader, this perception may be the smoke to indicate that something is indeed burning.
 
The cynic will note that one should not try to fix something that is not broken.  On its own, this is good advice.  However, large organizations have been compared to the frog who would immediately jump out if dropped into boiling water but who will casually swim until he dies if placed in cool water that is then slowly brought to a boil.  Like the frog, large organizations don’t perceive the aggregate impact of small, gradual changes, and so they don’t react to the changes until disaster hits them in the face.  The frog analogy could explain the persistence of many militaries to insist upon the “superiority of the attack” through the First World War and reluctance of some militaries to replace horse cavalry between wars (including many Canadian cavalrymen who took umbrage with H.L. Mencken’s arguments against horse cavalry in the Canadian Defence Quarterly).

The challenges to change can all be overcome.  One can get “buy-in” for a change if the workforce has been included in development of that change.  This is not always an option in a very large organization like a nation’s military.  As an alternate, leadership needs to communicate the vision very clearly, describing why the change is occurring, the plan for implementation,

For an organization, just as for a species in the wild, change is necessary for survival … either evolution or revolution.  If an organization waits for change to be forced upon it, then change is most likely to be hurried and outside the organizations control.  So, I think we need to improve the CAF culture toward evolution, growth, learning and improvement (all of which equal change by other names).