And, of course, the toughest part of the equation is how we get from here to there.
|Senator Charles Robb|
One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.
CHANGING AN ORGANIZATION as large and complex as the Navy is a challenging undertaking. No one person and no one staff can know or resolve all the issues and details. What is more, not even all the Sailors and all the staffs can know all of the issues and details before change begins. Nonetheless, a destination, a goal, or a port to steer for is required; this Newport Paper seeks to define that goal. Once the goal is defined, action can must begin.
The Navy must be willing to sail in these new seas, to leave the comforts of old, familiar shores and cruise into the unknown. It must make all preparations for getting underway. Then it must weigh anchor and depart the anchorage, being careful to keep the anchor at short stay in case something goes wrong. The following are the steps the Navy should start taking now.
During the period of transition, each type commander takes the former geographic counterpart as deputy (e.g., COMNAVSURFPAC becomes Deputy, COMNAVSURFOR).
When the Navy is well clear of the anchorage and in the channel, it must get some way on, leave the harbor, and steer for sea. At that point it should:
Each of the commands and staffs involved in any of the changes recommended is laden with highly educated and thoroughly experienced talent. This talent must be channeled as necessary to the entire Navy and the broader joint structure into the twenty-first century. Change can be implemented only through leadership that is effective, even (at times) inspiring.
The voyage the Navy faces now is different from any other that it has taken. To ensure the Navy successfully navigates and dominates the new seas it sails, Navy leadership needs some new tools and weapons, and the understanding to use them competently. Specifically, these are:
All Organizations Should Give Primary Emphasis To Developing Quickness. The reader is probably familiar with an object called "the learning curve," the S-shaped curve that shows how the rate at which one learns something varies with time. The learning rate starts slowly; gradually and then more rapidly increases; and finally tapers off to something very close to the initial learning rate. Plotting "Amount Learned" on the vertical, and "Time Spent Learning" on the horizontal, a typical curve looks like this.
The learning curve describes the rate at which people learn calculus, for example. Initially baffling, or at least tedious, it soon starts to become clear. Then they rapidly absorb differentiation, integration, partial differentials, and multiple integrals. However, learning may slow down a bit when they hit vector calculus, multivariable analysis, Bessel functions, and Gudermanian functions in hyperbolic trigonometry.
Similar S-curves are used to describe phase transitions in the natural sciences and in the development of business organizations (from entrepreneurial beginnings, through rapid expansion, to maturity). The S-curve applies also to the development of societies. It shows how societies evolve during what is called a "paradigm shift" (in one parlance) or a "phase shift" (in another). The Renaissance was such a shift, as was the Industrial Revolution. For example, an S-curve can be used to describe the rates at which industrial society developed during the Industrial Revolution: initially changing very slowly, then very rapidly, and then very slowly again. Modern industrialized societies are now at the far right side (the flatter portion) of the curve. That portion of the curve looks like this.
An S-curve also describes how human society is developing during the current trans-industrial revolution. In this case, the world is now on the left side of the curve and as this writer and many others believe just entering the steep slope portion. That means that the portion of the curve relevant to this period looks something like this.
Of course, there is no way of knowing, without the wisdom of hindsight, what the exact shape of the curve really is or where the trans-industrial world is located on it. However, if the above assessment of the trans-industrial period is close to correct, then organizations today face a very different problem on the steep portion of the trans-industrial curve than they did in the flattened, right-hand portion of the industrialization curve.
To make this point clearer, consider portions of the curve more closely and with a more analytical eye, starting with the mature end of the industrialization curve.
Referring to Figure 4, suppose the Navy is at time x and wants to define how it must develop to execute its missions and thus survive and prosper fifteen years from now, at time x+15. (This assumes it takes about fifteen years to reorient the Navy completely.)
Line A represents the extension of the present as a flat line into the future. It is the projection commonly used by people who, for one reason or another, do not want to acknowledge change.
Line B represents a projection from an understanding of the past. It looks back at how things were (the time interval depends on how good the line-drawer's sense of history is), and extends from that point through the present. This is the approach that uses "the voice of experience." In the Navy's case, this is the voice of admirals supported by experienced staff officers and civil servants.
Note that at time x+15, the lines come somewhat close together in this section of the curve (the mature portion of the industrialization curve, where the nation's institutions including the Navy and its citizens grew up). In fact, at x+15 the "no change" line A is below the curve by about the same amount that the "voice of experience" line B is above it. Regarding future needs, then, this means that in a world of political discussion and compromise, in a time of adequate resources, the development agreed upon is probably very close to what will actually be needed at year x+15.
Now consider the beginning portion of the new S-curve. This is the trans-industrial section the part of the curve that applies to the current era. Again, suppose the Navy is at time x, and it wants to define how it must develop to execute its missions (and thus survive and prosper) at time x+15, fifteen years into the future (see ).
Line A again represents the extension of the present as a flat line into the future. At time x+15 this line is furthest from the curve; that is, A illustrates what is probably the most unrealistic approach in the definition of future needs. However, because the nation has been in the flat, later portion of the industrialization curve (the one it has grown to know and love), there is a tendency among some to continue to use this approach, especially since it seemed to work reasonably well in the past (see ).
Line B again represents a projection from an understanding of the past. It looks back at how things were (how far back depends on how good the line-drawer's sense of history is), and draws from that point through the present. As the "voice of experience" approach, it is more realistic than line A, but it still misses the curves in Figures 4 and 5 at time x+15. In the mature industrial curve (), B misses the actual curve (reality) on the high side which is what American society and the Congress have for years been trying to tell the Navy. However and this is very significant in the young trans-industrial curve (), B misses the actual curve on the low side. That is, the "voice of experience" approach now undershoots reality.
Line C represents a projection from an understanding of the present. This line is tangent to the curve at time x, and is what the approach of the "futurists" really is. C is a more realistic approach than A or B, if the line is accurately drawn. However, since not all "futurists" draw line C in exactly the same way, how is the Navy to know which one has drawn it correctly? It is exceedingly difficult for an institution deeply rooted in the past to understand perfectly the realities of the present.
Note that in the young trans-industrial curve the one the Navy dimly perceives and does not yet understand all lines badly undershoot the curve at time x+15. No prediction comes close enough to future reality to make the Navy feel comfortable about the way it will be going.
What can the Navy do? One imperative is apparent: shorten the interval between time x and the targeted future by quickening the Navy's organizational perceptions and reactions. The Navy can then more accurately predict and define, and more effectively meet, the requirements of the future time.
For example, suppose the time interval for reorienting a Navy is three years, not fifteen. Even a succession of five iterations of the worst predictor (line A, the flat line projection), incorporating corrections every three years, gives at x+15 a result better than that of the best (C) of the lines in , projected over the fifteen-year period as a whole (see ).
The moral of this story is that the Navy's crystal balls, carefully polished over many decades and carefully tuned to the old S-curve, are full of fog in the new era. The Navy cannot see far enough down the road it is now taking. The rate of change is outstripping the Navy's ability to illuminate the way. That is why the Navy indeed, any organization that wishes to survive and prosper in the future must give primary emphasis to developing quickness.
Survival of the fittest is survival of the fleetest.
As discussed previously, data is the lever needed to move the Navy from the Industrial Age to the trans-industrial age, from the mature section of the old learning curve to the young section of the new learning curve. The trans-industrial system, which is based on rapidly applying rapidly developing new technologies, is focused on effectiveness and speed ("cycle time") of development and application. At the same time, institutions of the old, industrial system find themselves in economic trouble and therefore pay increasing attention to efficiency as budgetary stresses and strains become intolerable.
By addressing the growing need for efficiency, the Navy thus has an excellent opportunity, now, to move itself into the trans-industrial age. To make its case in these times of ever greater budget stress, the Navy has to overcome political arguments (rooted in the old system) with data-based arguments. "X marks the spot" at which data-based arguments will be more effective than political arguments, and the Navy is near (or past) that spot (see ).
The trouble is that the Navy cannot use data-based arguments unless it has data, something which it sorely needs. To marshal its arguments, the Navy must emphasize time as the scarce resource and gather data on where time is being invested. Think on the following.
As the world moves into the trans-industrial age, time is becoming an extremely scarce and precious resource. But just a little careful observation reveals the fact that time is seldom thought of that way. It is poorly accounted for, and it is assumed to be always available. Almost no one has more of it than anyone else does, and it is very difficult to buy more. Indeed, it is the one irreplaceable resource, especially in combat.
The proverb rings true: time is money lots of money. Today's largest monetary expenses are in wages and salary. For example, fewer workers are required on shop floors; however, more (and better-paid) workers are required in the software and support activities that reduce the need for shop-floor workers, while improving the quality of shop output. As demand for "knowledge workers" increases, they become more expensive, and their time becomes more valuable. The same considerations, with minor changes of detail, hold true for the Department of Defense and for the Navy.
Thus the quantity "time" is a scarce resource in two ways:
Although time is money, in the trans-industrial age time is increasingly a resource more critical than money. Money is becoming a mere abstraction for time, so that giving up time to save money is not much more than making a bad bargain. For the Navy, becoming quicker (while keeping "quality" at least at current levels) means getting more for its money.
More what? More output more useful output, that is. Output is useful if it helps the Navy to reach its objectives and to execute its missions. If not useful, the output is at best irrelevant, at worst harmful.
To review: the task at hand is to lever the Navy from the Industrial Age to the trans-industrial age, using data-based arguments to increase the efficiency and quickness with which it accomplishes its missions. The task involves seven steps.
In view of the paramount importance of time, it is wise to measure readiness in terms of time. In any dynamic, developing environment especially in a combat environment speed and quickness have an impact and quality all their own. For a Navy unit, readiness consists not only in being able simply to meet a standard, but also in being able to meet it as quickly as possible. In fact, the speed with which a standard is met can be more critical than the degree to which it is met.
Each task in the Universal Naval Task List (UNTL) is either already measured in terms of time or can be measured in terms of time. Time measures are relatively easy to establish and understand. They can be highly accurate and credible, and are clearly meaningful to both combat operations and support.
A focus on time is also crucial in the management of all supporting activities, including purely administrative tasks. The steps to realize gains in efficiency are simple but likely difficult, initially and are greatly facilitated by available methods of data collection, processing, and analysis.
First, each support organization must institutionalize a method that continuously records and analyzes man-hour expenditures by individual, function, product or service, and customer or objective. Ceaselessly monitoring the trend lines in every process will flag problems; track costs; assist planning; and provide fresh, meaningful information necessary for improving efficiency.
Then support staffs must lead and manage to reduce time costs constantly. The Navy's competitors are always improving; new applications of technology pose new challenges; and competitive cycle times are inexorably shrinking. Incessant change brings with it an unending train of challenges and opportunities, necessitating continuous improvement in the Navy's deliverables, as well as steady reduction of its costs. Process analysis to improve efficiency must be a continuous effort, not a one-shot affair.
There is no single recipe for implementing a focus on time. All Navy leaders can develop workable, data-based methods for their own organizations. Whatever the specific method, the important thing is to focus on time in every command, department, division, work center, and office. The time to begin is Now. The techniques that are devised can be refined or redesigned with experience.
The requirements process today barely works; it stumbles along, hobbled by many problems. First, there is inadequate vision on which to base the definition of warfare requirements. The Navy needs better answers to the following questions:
Compounding the problem of inadequate vision is the fact that requirements are program-driven instead of mission-driven; service-driven instead of joint-driven; and, within the service, community-driven instead of service-driven. Requirements inputs are focused on specific procurement programs and warfare communities within the services. Usually, the question that is actually addressed, albeit implicitly, is "What do we want, and how can we justify it by relating it to joint warfare?"
Related to this is the worrisome fact that inputs are political rather than data-based. There appears to be little data support, related to warfare, for statements that this or that system (or number of systems) is or is not "critical"; "required"; "essential"; "central"; "needed"; "adequate"; "ready"; "key"; "fundamental"; "sufficient"; "efficient"; "robust"; "vital"; "minimum"; etc. so goes the lexicon. Professional opinion is no substitute for data (particularly when professional opinions differ).
As to the definition of warfare requirements, component commanders are currently playing the wrong game. Component commanders naturally have a service focus, with close ties to service budgeting structures in the Pentagon. Thus they tend to concentrate on Pentagon currencies (programs, dollars) rather than warfare currencies (casualties, time, capital equipment, logistics, collateral damage).
To top the list, the entire process for defining and filling warfare requirements is much too slow for an era of rapid change. This problem is not addressed further in this Newport Paper, although it is ultimately the military's not just the Navy's most serious "warfare deficiency." The solution is well outside a fleet commander's fence lines. Some program managers are alert to this deficiency and are trying to do something about it. Given the "rules of the game," they can do only a little at a time. However, it is unlikely that incremental changes will be enough. Correction of this problem is an entirely separate ball game.
So from what source can the solutions come?
Not the Department of Defense or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They do not have knowledge of mission-oriented warfare requirements. Moreover, they are too political, tainted with "inside-the-Beltway" concerns.
Not the Services. They do not have knowledge of mission-oriented joint warfare requirements. They may talk joint, but they seldom understand it or know how to begin to understand it. There is little interaction among component services on requirements issues. Within the Services, the perspective of each warfare community tends to be skewed by allegiances to favored programs. Lastly, they also are too politically interested.
Not Congress. The primary ties of members of Congress are to their voting constituencies. Most senators and representatives lack expertise in defense matters, and they have a completely political bias, by design. Even their hired experts are politically skewed (else they would not have been hired). Nevertheless, many members of Congress are aware of the military's problems.
Only the combatant CINCs can solve the requirements problem. Only they have direct access to the warfare experts who have to execute the missions in the field. Only they and their subordinate JFCs are truly joint. Only they and their subordinate JFCs are the genuine warfighters. Only the combatant CINCs stand a chance of being regarded as "honest brokers" in Pentagon politics.
To define warfare requirements and fill them, the warfighters must focus on the objectives they may be expected to achieve, as well as the associated strategy, campaign, missions, tactics, and tasks. These objectives should not be limited to, or even focus on, existing war plans. The warfighters must also think in terms of warfare currencies: time, casualties, capital equipment, logistics, and collateral damage.
The Services and Department of Defense must convert the CINCs' warfare requirements into resource requirements. They must also convert the warfare currencies and resource requirements into dollar equivalents for budget purposes, then prioritize and request the resources from Congress. The Services subsequently convert the provided resources into ready warfare capabilities through research and development, procurement, manning, maintenance, and training.
The combatant CINCs must pursue two courses of action simultaneously. One pertains to the definition of warfighting requirements and the other to combat support requirements. Each course of action consists of several tasks.
- Today, but at lower costs (again, in warfare currencies).
- In the future (CINC defines the time horizon for "the future"). If the time horizon is very far into the future, it will be quite difficult for the JFCs to do this job, and they will need considerable help from more senior staffs. The key to building an effective requirements system for an era of rapid and radical change is to design it not to look far out into the distant future but to adjust quickly to changes in the near future (see the latter part of the previous section on the learning curve).
- In the future same future as above but at lower costs (warfare currencies).
Each combatant CINC collates both types of requirements, warfighting and combat support; prioritizes them; and submits them as the Integrated Priority List for the CINC's theater.
Start with the warfighting requirements rather than the combat support requirements. Pick one strategic objective, then pick one campaign (not currently in a war plan) in pursuit of that objective. Choose one JFC and one set of subordinate component commanders to be in charge of the campaign. Order them to develop one campaign plan and to formulate its associated set of warfighting requirements today; today, but at lower costs; in the future; in the future, but at lower costs (see above).
Evaluate the process. When satisfied with the process, expand it to the entire theater. Once that is done, apply the same rationale and process to the definition of combat support requirements.
As stated from the outset, this paper has been written to stimulate thinking, discussion, and new approaches. It is not meant to be the "last word" on the matters it presents; its recommendations are not prescriptive. Nonetheless, the issues and recommendations treated here should be earnestly and seriously discussed, not unquestioningly accepted or summarily rejected. Discussion should focus not only on the Navy writ large, but also on the Navy writ small each work center, division, department, and command. What can Sailors do, locally and within their areas of responsibility, to find out:
Furthermore, what can be done, locally, to find out where time and talent are going, and whether they are being wasted or misused, and how to use them more efficiently in operations and support? Efforts to answer these questions and to implement the answers should and can start now, everywhere in the Navy.
A more important task for every level of every organization is to define a prioritized list of its own particular missions and tasks, stated in operational and measurable terms. When that has been done, the Navy can then answer the following questions and give genuine focus to its efforts, as a whole and in its parts.
Lots of questions, but Now is the time to act, Now is the time to change. The Navy cannot afford to wait for directions from "on high." Those of us currently at the peak of the Navy pyramid are the favorite children of old perspectives. Admirals know and understand those perspectives and the associated mechanisms and processes, as they must to ensure that today's jobs are done. With nearly every day scheduled from sunrise to sunset, the Navy's flag officers consequently find little time to develop new perspectives and new courses of action. Perhaps it should not be that way, but that is the way it is. It makes no difference: at this point there is no way of knowing exactly what the correct new courses will be, no matter how brilliant the admirals or the members of their staffs. Given the above conditions, what the Navy needs is an interacting and chemically reactive soup of diverse ideas in every area of activity within the Navy (see Appendix C). New perspectives and courses will evolve from the dynamic interplay and testing of these ideas in an open, decentralized, responsive, and unconstrained (but gently refereed) forum.
The Navy needs a better forum for ideas. One can be built on the Internet. That job should be done now. Who among us will do it?
The Navy needs a better, quicker, and cheaper testing ground for new ideas. One can be built with simulators. That job should be done now (not five years from now). Who among us will do it?
The crucial thing is not to temporize and search long and hard for perfectly safe courses to steer, but to get underway now and make for sea. That will take courage and the willingness to risk scraping a few rocks and shoals. After the Navy is on course in the new seas, it will have to take frequent fixes and adjust course as necessary. It has the tools for successful sailing, and its history gives it reason to sail confidently. And while the Navy and the next Navy are doing all that needs to be done in the service of the nation, they must also design and build the Navy-after-next quickly.
Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking, faster and faster. . . .
| Edward Gibbon,
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776
Return to table of contents
In the context of this paper,
"quickness" implies the ability of an organization or person
to adapt itself rapidly and agilely to a changing environment. This section uses
the S-curve to demonstrate why the Navy must become a quicker
organization by decreasing its decision cycle times. Read patiently and
carefully, and the point GET QUICK will be clear. return
In 1981, Jonas Salk used an S-curve to describe the evolution, growth, and development of living systems. He claimed that the S-curve appliednot only to biological systems, but also to social systems. Although Salk's claim was accepted by some, it was criticized by others. Nevertheless, over the next decade the S-curve concept was successfully applied by some authors and consultants to management theory and technological innovation. In the development of complexity theory, biotechnologists, economists, chemists, and physicists have used S-curves to describe phase transitions of coevolving social and technological structures. return
The writer suspects that the steep portion of the trans-industrial S-curve, because of the very rapid rate of change in this era, will be much steeper than the analogous portion of the industrialization S-curve. But that opinion need not be argued for this discussion. return They would more appropriately be called "presentists," because they are extending the line tangent to the present into the future. Some critics cynically discount the value of what futurists do. However, it is far better to look ahead, try to form some vision of future conditions, and be ready to adjust quickly to new realities than to divert one's glance from the future and focus myopically on the present. One's vision of the future can be refined or revised in response to change. The process of anticipation and revision is ceaseless, and any good watch stander knows and practices it. return A notion preposterous to minds still comfortably anchored on the mature portion of the industrialization learning curve. return
Again, not merely questionable numbers, gathered as needed to decorate political arguments, but credible, accurate, and meaningful measurements related to issues of current import. Of course, data is a necessary but insufficient tool: it must be used in conjunction with the fulcrum of mission-essential tasks and the wisdom to use the data effectively. return
Although the following discussion refers to the highest command levels, it should be noted that these seven steps can be done at all command levels, with appropriate adaptations. return
Some years ago, many organizations spent a great deal of effort on the idea of "vision" namely, the vision of an organization, and how that vision is to be defined. This was an expression of the intuitively (but dimly) perceived need to base effort and expenditures on missions and objectives. The discussions associated with developing vision statements were usually quite accurate and inspired. However, most of the resulting vision statements were flawed: the problem was that they were not operational. They used impressive words and were posted in elegant formats, but the vision statements had little real impact because they had no operational plans of action and milestones for accomplishing whatever missions were envisioned. return
In the mid-1990s there was considerable interest in "process mapping" as a step in "Business Process Reengineering." And even before reengineering came into vogue, flow-charting was one of the major tools of Total Quality Management. Both process mapping and flow-charting were central to efforts made at gaining real knowledge of the processes by which a mission or objective is accomplished. The goal was admirable, the tools excellent, but the efforts generally failed. The problem was misapplication (actually, incomplete application) of the tools: process mapping and flow-charting were usually not integrated into a plan of action related to an operational statereturn
The calculated number will not express the actual probability. It will, however, reflect the probability; thus, increasing the calculated number will in fact also increase the actual probability. return
The experts are most often those who do the process. return
Initially difficult, because different. In organizations a different task is initially a difficult task, no matter how simple it really is. return
Combat support is primarily a service function and should probably continue that way. return