Paper Navy Tiger

Damaged Navy Warship.jpeg

We spend $600 billion on defense and this is what we get?


In the middle of the night our U.S. Navy DESTROYER crashes with a ginormous container ship.


The commercial vessel (yes it’s bigger, but it’s a civilian ship) is lightly damaged, but the U.S. Navy BATTLESHIP (after having undergone a recent $21 million upgrade) has 7 dead, the captain injured, and it can barely make it back to its port except with tugboats for extensive repairs. 


WTF!


How does an battleship with the latest sensors and technology collide with a civilian ship–how did such a foreign vessel even get close to our navy ship let alone collide with it–was someone completely “asleep at the wheel?”


This is no joke!–this is our first line of defense in our ability to project force globally. 


What if this had been a terrorist ship laden to the hilt with high explosives or an Axis of Evil Iranian or North Korean fast attack craft or even a Russian or Chinese attack submarine–surprise!


Doesn’t a battleship need to be ever-vigilant and -ready for battle? 


How can we fight sophisticated 21st century militaries with advanced ship-killer cruise missiles, torpedos, and mines, if we can’t even avoid the essential sinking of one our own fighting ships in peacetime. 


Our brave men and women who take up the uniform to serve this great nation–and this country–DESERVE BETTER!


Does this paper navy ship with a punched hole in it represent a larger forgotten or war-weary military in dire need of modernization and genuine readiness to defend the beautiful and free America? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via The Guardian)

A Blooper With Our Blimps

Military Blimp

Oops, so this is one for the books…


The multi-billion dollar Raytheon-built military JLENS surveillance blimps are pictured above.


They are supposed to sense and alert us to a possible devastating surprise cruise missile attack on the U.S. eastern seaboard.


However, one of them lost its tethering and went sailing into the skies and had to itself be tracked by NORAD and two scrambled F-16 fighter jets. 


What was designed to surveil instead needed surveillance. 


The JLENS crashed landed in Amish country, Pennsylvania and took out the power to 20,000 people.


We need a strong, capable, and ready military!


If we are trying to improve our posturing with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians–this is not the way to put our best blimp forward. 😉


(Source photo: here with attribution to Bill Dickinson)

The Bigger Smaller Navy

The Bigger Smaller Navy

So our Navy is shrinking for real, but growing on the books.

Steve Cohen writes in the Wall Street Journal how the “U.S. Navy is stretched too thin.”

And we are down to just 283 ships, but for reporting purposes it’s 293–that is–because we now include hospital ships, small coastal patrol vessels (“lightly armed [with machine guns]…and not true oceangoing”), and a high-speed transport in the calculus.

Moreover, “only 35% of the U.S. Navy’s entire fleet is deployed, fewer than 100 ships, including just 3 aircraft carriers.”

According to the Heritage Foundation, gone is the promise of a mighty U.S. with a formidable 600-ship navy, and instead “U.S. naval leaders are struggling to find ways to meet a new requirement of around 300 ships…with “predictions [that] show current funding levels would reduce the fleet to [just] 263 ships.”

Sure, today’s fleet is comprised of ships more capable than predecessors, but our enemies are also not resting on their laurels.

China is now building its 2nd aircraft carrier, and Russia has formally secured Crimea home to it’s Black Sea fleet.

The function for military readiness includes not only capability of each, but numbers available to fight.

There are times that less is more, but less can also be less. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jon Olav)

Smart Cats Aren’t Afraid to Innovate

Smart_cats

It’s really hypocritical that on one hand we put innovation on a pedestal, but on the other hand, we tend to nix new ideas.

The Atlantic (July/August 2012) has an article called “Let’s Cool It With the Big Ideas.”

The author, P.J. O’Rourke, rails against innovation, saying: “I don’t have a big idea, and I don’t want one. I don’t like big ideas.”

Let’s just say this article by O’Rourke proves his point and not only about big ideas.

Unfortunately, like O’Rourke, many in our society seem to have a love/hate relationship with innovation.

We love new ideas when they work to our benefit–like having a smartphone perhaps–but we fear the worst about failing and people seem to loathe change of any kind until it’s a “proven entity.”

Hence as O’Rourke points out the derogatory feelings and sayings about new, big ideas:

– What is the big idea?
– You and your bright ideas.
– Whose idea was this?
– Me and my big ideas.
– Don’t get smart with me.

The last one is really the clincher with it all–without new ideas and the bravery to explore them, our “smarts” really do go out the window.

This is reminiscent of when the great Library of Alexandria burnt to the ground almost 2,000 years ago, destroying many of the “new ideas” of the philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, poets, and playwrights of the time, leaving us for centuries stuck in the Dark Ages!

Sure, new ideas are threatening to old ways of thinking and doing things, but we are an evolving species–stagnation is death.

According to Harvard Business Review (October 2010) in “How to Save Good Ideas“–a more enlightened article here, explains how to counter fearful and destructive people “who try to kill ideas” using “fear-mongering, delay, confusion, and ridicule.”

Some of the suggestions to counter the naysayers:

– When they attack you for “dictating” a new idea–you can explain that there is a vetting process, but like with a train conductor, we need to provide direction for our people.

– When they say, no one else is doing this–for any new idea, someone has to be the first to try it, and we have the capacity to innovate and succeed.

– When they criticize your timing–acknowledge that you can’t do everything and the poor projects should be weeded out, but promising new ventures should proceed.

From a leadership perspective, we cannot shove new ideas down people’s throats, but rather we need to explore ideas openly and honestly. Leaders should explain the imperative for change, explore organizational and market readiness, look at costs and benefits, mitigate risks, and help people in adopting and adapting to change–and this last one can be the most difficult.

For those that are comfortable with the status quo or afraid of what change may mean to their jobs, status, and security–there are times, when reassuring and working together can move people and the organization forward, but there are also times, when perhaps the person-organizational fit may no longer be right, and it is time to part ways.

The way we do things today–no matter how comfortable–is not the way we will always do them.  Times change, challenges build up, opportunities emerge, and as survivors, we either adapt or fade into the annals of history.

“There is more than one way to skin a cat,” but if we are cool to new ideas, the cat will most definitely get away from us–and it may be for good.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ivo Kendra)

>Transformation That Can Succeed

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Many organizations seek transformation. They are mired in paper even though we as a society have long moved to a digital age. They are organized around silos, despite the revelation that enterprise can function more effectively as one. They are overcome by day-to-day operational issues and are busy fighting fires, instead of focused on long-term strategy and execution. These are just some of the dysfunctions organizations seek to transform from.

But many transformations fail and they do so big time, leaving dispirited employees, disgruntled managers saying I told you so, and organizations hobbled in outmoded processes and legacy technologies, with the rest of the world seemingly passing them by. If they do nothing, they risk becoming obsolete, irrelevant, and a mere artifact of history.

Why do so many transformations fail and how can we help to convert these failures to successes is the topic of a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article titled “Accelerating Corporate Transformations (Don’t Lose Your Nerve)” by Robert H. Miles in January-February 2010.

Here are some of the major hurdles and what we need to do to overcome them:

· Self Interest (or the “I” factor): Those who control the most resources or institutional assets tend to monopolize discussions, trump new ideas, and strong-arm decision-making, thereby reinforcing the status quo” and the security of their own corporate kingdom. I personally think this is one of the most difficult challenges to organizational change, because you have managers (i.e. they are not genuine leaders!) whose self-interest trumps organizational progress. The author calls for compelling all executives to confront reality and work together, but this isn’t a prescriptive answer, rather it is more of a wish. In my opinion, the mandate for change must come from the very top and everyone needs to be held accountable for genuinely helping the organization changes succeed.

· Organizational capacity to change—“In most cases, the day-to-day management process is already operating at full capacity…there isn’t room within the established systems to plan and launch a transformation.” The author calls for a parallel launch with small visible victories. While, small victories are good, this doesn’t really address how the organization can carve out the time, resources and commitment in the face of already stressed people, processes, and systems. I believe that you must make the investment distinct from your regular operations (this is not a collateral duty!) and form a high-level transformation office that reports to the senior executive. The transformation office is elevated from the organizational silos and works horizontally to make change happen. This means that traditional organization boundaries become transparent for process improvement and technology enablement. However, this cannot be a proverbial, ivory tower effort, but it must be well thought out, focused, and inclusive. The transformation office must engage all stakeholders across the organization in visioning, planning, and executing change initiatives.

· Change gridlock—“Workers capacity to execute will become a choke point if the programs are not prioritized and sequenced.” The author calls for limiting change initiatives to 3 or 4. This creates organizational focus. While I agree that you do not want to overwhelm the organization with too much change too fast, I find this somewhat at odds with the authors notion of “launches must be bold and rapid to succeed.” In my mind, it is not the launches that must be bold and rapid, but rather the goals that must be bold and the transformation should be allowed to proceed in a logical sequenced phases so that the organization can achieve learning, proficiency, and sustainability. Last thing we want to do is build a house of cards. At the same time, I don’t believe there is a magic number of initiatives, but rather that this is dependent on the resources available, the size and complexity of the change initiatives, and the organizational readiness and capacity for change.

· Sustaining transformation—“The more intensive and engaging the transformation launch, the harder it is to sustain the heightened levels of energy, focus, and performance.” The author recommends a “launch redux” to continue the transformation. I’m not convinced you need an annual or periodic revival of the initiative, but rather I believe that’s what’s called for is the following: leadership continuity and commitment, the continued development and nurturing of a shared vision of what transformation means, and ongoing performance management and measurement to see the change through. I believe that people will support the change process if they can see that it is purposeful, reasonable, inclusive, and that the commitment is real and sustained.

The truth is that no major and meaningful change in our personal or organizational life is short or easy. If it were fast and easy, it probably wouldn’t be so darn pivotal to our future.

Transformation is a risky, but necessary endeavor. We should not be afraid to make mistakes and learn from these. The greatest change and growth comes from the striving itself. As others have noted, it is the journey—to the destination—that is truly critical.