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Army doctrine and its Implementation

Old Sweat

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We used to refer to the statue that makes the spot as "Herman the German" back in the 60s. I used it in a resection for a battery survey scheme once, along with two or three church steeples in nearby villages. That was nearby for us; Herman was a long way off, and my BRO crew (yours truly, Sgt Simmoins, Gnr McNeil, and Gnr Wood) did it so we could say we did without our noses growing.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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An example of doctrine being implemented very painfully in practice is the Israeli experience of Systemic Operational Design (SOD) in the 2006 Lebanon War. There are many reasons why the Israelis were not successful, but fuzzy new doctrine that was not understood by the people trying to execute it was one of them. "We were caught unprepared" is a good read on the subject. The father of SOD proclaimed that it "was not intended for ordinary mortals." Unfortunately, wars are fought by ordinary mortals at 0300 hrs without the time or inclination to read French post-modernist philosophy (apparently SOD was informed by post-modern French philosophy). Whether or not it could be understood was also moot as Hezbollah proved a little more resilient.

While this was part of what compelled Mattis to reject EBO, others doubled down as true believers are wont to do.

When someone tries to sell me on the virtues of design I back away very slowly.
Here is a little tidbit from a Canadian Army Journal article regarding Design (specifically the use of semiotic squares 🧐) and the Canadian Military: "the design team must must have a thorough understanding of paradigms, as well as a familiarity with the sociological/philosophical notions of ontology, epistemology and methodology (the rules, principles and procedures nested within the implicit ontological and epistemological choices of the home paradigm.)"
 

SeaKingTacco

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Here is a little tidbit from a Canadian Army Journal article regarding Design (specifically the use of semiotic squares 🧐) and the Canadian Military: "the design team must must have a thorough understanding of paradigms, as well as a familiarity with the sociological/philosophical notions of ontology, epistemology and methodology (the rules, principles and procedures nested within the implicit ontological and epistemological choices of the home paradigm.)"
What. the. ?
 

TangoTwoBravo

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What. the. ?
Yup.

To be fair, though, I suppose this thread is kind of a venture in epistemology - we are talking about our knowledge and beliefs about warfighting. I prefer plain language, though, as the point of communicating is, well, to communicate!
 

OldSolduer

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Yup.

To be fair, though, I suppose this thread is kind of a venture in epistemology - we are talking about our knowledge and beliefs about warfighting. I prefer plain language, though, as the point of communicating is, well, to communicate!
ABC
Accurate, Brief, Clear

That statement fails badly. Not yours, the original one.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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ABC
Accurate, Brief, Clear

That statement fails badly. Not yours, the original one.
Indeed - imagine using that phrase with "ontology etc" at a unit? Talk about losing your audience. Maybe that was the point?

Part of what makes me wary of the design-community is their tendency to use flowery language, perhaps in an effort to make their sales pitch. It would also be helpful if they had some real-world successes. The same article refers to "planners" in contrast to "designers." I don't think a military "planner" needs a Philosophy degree to participate in campaign design. A planner does need an understanding of how their military/alliance fights and how their opponent fights along with a deep understanding of the situation. I am all for proper "framing" of the problem, but we don't need to become designers to do so.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Indeed - imagine using that phrase with "ontology etc" at a unit? Talk about losing your audience. Maybe that was the point?

Part of what makes me wary of the design-community is their tendency to use flowery language, perhaps in an effort to make their sales pitch. It would also be helpful if they had some real-world successes. The same article refers to "planners" in contrast to "designers." I don't think a military "planner" needs a Philosophy degree to participate in campaign design. A planner does need an understanding of how their military/alliance fights and how their opponent fights along with a deep understanding of the situation. I am all for proper "framing" of the problem, but we don't need to become designers to do so.
Everyone has a plan or a “design”, right up until they get punched in the face.

At that point, you have had a simple, robust and easily adapted concept of operations or you are lost.
 

FJAG

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Here is a little tidbit from a Canadian Army Journal article regarding Design (specifically the use of semiotic squares 🧐) and the Canadian Military: "the design team must must have a thorough understanding of paradigms, as well as a familiarity with the sociological/philosophical notions of ontology, epistemology and methodology (the rules, principles and procedures nested within the implicit ontological and epistemological choices of the home paradigm.)"
So, I finally found the article and read it. Actually not as obtuse as it looked at first blush but not so sure it develops a design methodology any better than what was used in the past. It strikes me that the issue isn't so much the process in use (or suggested) but the thorough understanding of the inputs needed by the team in order to do the suggested, or any other, analysis.

Does make me wonder why the author, with all his education and experience, retired as a major after 22 years of service in the army (not that there's anything wrong with that 😉).

For those in the know; have we adopted this process other than as a staff college experiment?

:unsure:
 

daftandbarmy

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So, I finally found the article and read it. Actually not as obtuse as it looked at first blush but not so sure it develops a design methodology any better than what was used in the past. It strikes me that the issue isn't so much the process in use (or suggested) but the thorough understanding of the inputs needed by the team in order to do the suggested, or any other, analysis.

Does make me wonder why the author, with all his education and experience, retired as a major after 22 years of service in the army (not that there's anything wrong with that 😉).

For those in the know; have we adopted this process other than as a staff college experiment?

:unsure:
From over 20 years of doing this stuff I've learned that it's not rocket science but there are various vested interests out there who want to make you think so.

Any military organization is already really good at this stuff. Anyone here ever mark a map, make a model, draft up a prototype and mess around with it until it gets better, use hand gestures to describe an activity (I'm looking at you, aircrew) scrawl on a flipchart, update an ops room board with grease pencil/pixels or, as I have done occasionally draw right on the side of an APC/Tank?, they just don't know it, sadly.

We're in good company though. Most of the planet has had the visual learning aspects of life beaten out of them over the years by the education system, prevailing corporate culture etc:

Design Thinking: 5 Things I Learned from Putting Pulp on Paper​


“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs


To paraphrase Tim Brown, IDEO founder and a globally recognized thought leader on the subject “design thinking can be described as a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with a) what is technologically feasible, and b) what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” In other words, it’s ‘Design Doing’: engaging people, pictures, prototypes, and other practical, team based learning approaches to solve tricky business problems.

Berlineaton employs Design Thinking principles and methods in all of our practice areas. My area, the Continuous Improvement practice, tends to use it more often in connection with the business process improvement work that forms the core of our offerings to clients. Over many years of delivering these types of projects I have noticed that the more client teams engage their largely latent, yet powerful, visual learning strengths, the more enduring and effective are the project results.

Recently, we have had the opportunity to work with one of Canada’s largest forest companies, and their pulp division, to help them prepare for a large information system implementation program. Working closely with a cross enterprise Design Team, using big flipchart wall charts and sticky notes, we mapped out and redesigned the full span of their corporate processes from ‘Chip truck to China’. During this experience we introduced them to a variety of process mapping and other visual and team oriented activities to help develop a redesigned and improved business process, as well as a guiding vision, mission, values and goals.

The results have been inspiring. For them, because they have worked diligently to develop a strong, shared understanding of the future and how to get there from here using simple but effective tools they’ve never been exposed to before. For us, because this client took to our somewhat unorthodox approach to problem solving like the proverbial duck takes to water.

Why is it that these simple visual tools can be so powerful in helping people solve complex business issues? How can they be utilized more often to crack tough problems? Here are five things that struck me as important takeaways from the experience of helping my clients put ‘pulp on paper’:

1. Design thinking and visual problem solving skills come naturally to just about everyone

Ever seen or heard of cave drawings? That’s at least how old design thinking approaches are: about 40,000 years. That’s not to say that humans weren’t solving problems visually in other ways within the three million year period before that, and I’m sure that the Neanderthals were probably explaining themselves to their peers by drawing in the dirt with sticks just like we do now, there just isn’t a lot of evidence right now to support that theory. Regardless, design thinking principles are deeply, naturally embedded within the human condition. If you don’t think that you have those skills, just check out your last doodle.

What I have learned is that anyone can draw and given 1) the right opportunity and creative freedoms, and 2) some simple tools, just about every one of the thousands of clients we have engaged with over the past 20 years shows a natural affinity for explaining themselves using drawings or visual cues of one kind or another. We should leverage that innate skill more often to solve tough issues.

2. To get the best out of Design Thinking we must overcome the fear of ridicule

Here’s a bold statement for you about our prevailing workplace culture based on years of observation: those who try to solve problems using simple drawings are often thought of as simpletons.

Sadly, the modern workplace encourages us to try to impress our colleagues by demonstrating great feats of complexity, presented in a polished and professional manner, to prove how much smarter we are than everyone else. PowerPoint, an invaluable visual learning tool, has come to be derided by many largely as a result of many of us who try to pack a thesis load of information onto each slide. Because of this unintended connection between perfection and design thinking, many are afraid to engage in explaining themselves visually for fear of ridicule by their colleagues. Conversely, some of the most important ideas conveyed during many of our projects could literally be described as enhanced stick man drawings. Facilitated the right way, it’s the ideas that become the most important output, not the drawing itself.

What I have learned is that the atmosphere you establish for any continuous improvement effort is even more important than the more technical tools and resources provided for solving problems. If you can do your work within an open and judgement free environment, you will always get better results with a Design Thinking approach. Conversely, overly critical work environments can crush the visual, and other kinds of, creative juices out of any team.

3. Walls and windows are more important than tables and chairs

As I have described in a related article ‘Spaced Out: Put the Room Back into Meetings’ bad meeting rooms can kill creativity, fast. When deploying a Design Thinking approach it’s important to ensure 1) enough room to move about freely, as well as sufficient wall space for flipchart maps, and 2) natural light. In my experience this is one of the toughest paradigms to overcome when working with new clients who don’t really ‘get’ us yet. The prevailing workplace culture is one that reflects workplace based command and control relationships developed in the Industrial Age. In most meeting rooms this culture shows up in the form of a giant table in the middle of a dark, windowless room featuring high backed wheeled chairs, or, as I like to call them, straightjacket chairs.

I have learned that, to get the best out a Design Thinking approach, it’s critically important to get rid of the big tables and chairs, put a lot of flipchart maps on the walls, then, looking outwards versus inwards, doodle your way to business improvement.

4. Apply the Rule of Threes

Another paradigm inflicted upon us from the Industrial Age is the perception that it is really, really important to get something right first time, or don’t even bother trying (see above re: ridicule). Because you are deploying highly creative approached to problem solving during Design Thinking activities, I find it’s more important to plan to redesign three times.

First, draw out what the current process looks like, literally, from the point of view of you, your staff, your clients and other key stakeholders. Then develop Redesign Version 1. I call this ‘Status Quo Plus’ because, although it’s usually a step in the right direction, it’s not usually a big enough improvement to achieve client goals. Challenge yourself to do even more during Redesign Version 2: the ‘Evolutionary’ redesign and, following that, on to Version 3: The ‘Revolutionary’ redesign. During this process you will find that the Design Team gradually become better at describing future, possibly unknown, improvements and how those could play out within the business successfully. Concurrently, you will have designed a step by step approach to implementing your future vision from the current reality to the Revolutionary future.

5. Have some serious fun

Unhappy people don’t tend to be too creative. As a result, I believe that it’s important to have some fun to get the best out of Design Thinking projects. There are a myriad of things that you can do to introduce some kind of fun during what can be long and tiring Design Team meetings. It helps if the activities are aligned to project deliverables in some way, but it’s not critical: design a brave new world using giant sized Lego blocks, act out your future vision in small teams, or design a coat of arms to brand your project.

The most important part about having some serious fun is to provide a break, of course, but to also formally introduce one of our most basic human bonding behaviours to a potentially arduous and dry, really valuable, project.


 
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