Today I was sharing the sauna with a former officer of the Swedish armed forces. Now he works in logistics and was selected due to his skills in leadership and management (yeah yeah, you might be laughing now). Even though I suppose that most people wouldn't associate modern leadership (or corporate leadership) skills in general with military drill I have to admit that the guy made a couple of interesting statements today. Firstly he was referring to the requirement to understand, interpret and react to group dynamics in a very short time frame when you're leading in the army. That goes far beyond management by orders. The way he was talking about it was very much in a "seeking to understand before seeking to be understood" way of leading even though the army is perceived as a strict following-order-system (which in a lot of particular situations the army will find itself in makes total sense).
The more important statement he made with regards to taking decisions. He said: in the military you cannot afford to postpone decisions. Many people's life depend on a decision that has to be made. So you make the decision, you move the platoon and then you reflect and analyze if the next decision should be taken differently of if another decision would have been a better choice. But at the end of the day it's more difficult to hit a moving target.
To hit a moving target…
From my experience a lot of companies do exactly the opposite. They freeze in continuous self reflection (instead of resonating on the outside world). Too many organizations are too involved with themselves trying to make sure that the next step will be the most accurate and forward looking one. At the same time competitors that are more agile and risk affine will actually make a move, overtake and then adjust their movement and direction on the go to keep the pole position.
It's hard to hit a moving target… I'd really be interested in a more sufficient analysis of successful and leading corporations and the way they take decision – they way they are led by a combination of business leaders and operations. Got a tip for me?