Best Defense

Revising our armed forces (4): Within the organization, protect the people who are trying to implement the innovation

This comment isn’t about the Billy Mitchells or Boney Fullers of the military.

W_Halsey

This comment isn’t about the Billy Mitchells or Boney Fullers of the military. Individual innovators are natural dissidents who are always like to chafe against the existing order.

Rather, this is about the hundreds or thousands of smart, promising officers and enlisted personnel who get pulled into the organization being developed to implement an innovative approach. For the innovation to succeed, the institution must look out for them. It is essential to make sure they are not cut off and isolated, and forgotten by promotion boards. Do not allow them to become institutional orphans.

The larger lesson here is that an intelligent, flexible personnel policy is important to developing and sustaining innovative approaches. So, herewith:

Rule 4: Protect the people in the organization who are charged with implementing an innovation. 

Photo credit: U.S. Navy/National Archives/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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