Saturday, June 25, 2005

Geogreen Means Strategic Scientists

"The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War," by Charles Krulak, Marines Magazine, January 1999,

"This Is Not A Test," by Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat, 2005, pg 282-283.

In ancient times, the Scythian sheik system created super-empowered managers. One man out of five was a sheik, a lowest-level manager with very broad authority. Being a sheik meant expert knowledge of warfare, equestrianism, and herding. It meant being charged with rapidly adapting to changing circumstances for the good of the larger network.

In modern warfare, this is the doctrine of the strategic corporal:

Leadership, of course, remains the hard currency of the Corps, and its development and sustainment is the third and final step in the creation of the Strategic Corporal. For two hundred and twenty-three years, on battlefields strewn across the globe, Marines have set the highest standard of combat leadership. We are inspired by their example and confident that today's Marines and those of tomorrow will rise to the same great heights. The clear lesson of our past is that success in combat, and in the barracks for that matter, rests with our most junior leaders. Over the years, however, a perception has grown that the authority of our NCO's has been eroded. Some believe that we have slowly stripped from them the latitude, the discretion, and the authority necessary to do their job. That perception must be stamped out. The remaining vestiges of the "zero defects mentality" must be exchanged for an environment in which all Marines are afforded the "freedom to fail" and with it, the opportunity to succeed. Micro-management must become a thing of the past and supervision -- that double-edged sword -- must be complemented by proactive mentoring. Most importantly, we must aggressively empower our NCO's, hold them strictly accountable for their actions, and allow the leadership potential within each of them to flourish. This philosophy, reflected in a recent Navy Times interview as "Power Down," is central to our efforts to sustain the transformation that begins with the first meeting with a Marine recruiter. Every opportunity must be seized to contribute to the growth of character and leadership within every Marine. We must remember that simple fact, and also remember that leaders are judged, ultimately, by the quality of the leadership reflected in their subordinates. We must also remember that the Strategic Corporal will be, above all else ... a leader of Marines.

How do we apply the sheik system, the strategic corporal doctrine, to business and education? First, remember in economics that capital substitutes for labor. In other words, the more machines and computers and software programs you have, the less workers you need. So in many ways every office worker is a strategic corporal, with his own type-setter, copyist, courier, and other assistants in his computer. Every office worker is a sheik.

When IBM brought in Lou Gerstner to save the company....

one of the first things he did was replace the notion of lifetime employment with the nation of lifetime employability. A friend of mine, Alex Attal, a French-born software engineer who was working for IBM at the time, described the shift this way: "Instead of IBM giving you a guarantee that you will eb employed, you had to guarantee that you could stay employable. The company would give you the framework, but you had to build it yourself. It's all about adapting [all about being a good sheik -- tdaxp]. I was head of sales for IBM France at the time. It was the mid-nineties. I told my people that in the old days [the concept of] lifetime employment was only a company's responsibility, not a personal responsibility. The company will give you access to knowledge, but you have to take advantage of it... You have to build the skills because it will be you against a lot of other people.

And the geogreen energy-independence project is a perfect way to encourage every American to be a sheik:

To be sure, it is not easy to get people passionate about the flat world. It takes some imagination. President Kennedy understood that the competition with the Soviet Union was not a space race but a science race, which was really an education race [in other words, the "space race" was cover for the real war of educating Americans -- tdaxp]. Yet the way he chose to get Americans excited about sacrificing and buckling down to do what it took to win the Cold War -- which required a large-scale push in science and engineering -- was by laying out the vision of putting a man on the moon, not a missile into Moscow. If President Bush is looking for a similar legacy project, there is one just crying out -- a national science initiative that would be our generation's moon shot: a crash program for alternative energy and conservation to make America energy-independent in ten years. If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, in one fele swoop eh would dry up revenue for terrorism, force Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia onto the path of reform -- which they will never do with $50-a-barrel oil -- strengthen the dollar, and improve his own standing in Europe by doing something huge to reduce global warming. He would also create a real magnate to inspire young people to contribute to both the war on terrorism and America's future by again becoming scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. "This is not just a win-win," said Michael Mandelbaum. "This is a win-win-win-win-win-win."

As Tom Friedman says, we must train more Americans to be strategic corporals -- to be adaptable experts ("strategic scientists") to maximize our competitive advantages.

Through this plan, we can seize the highground in the flat world. We should do it.