I recently came across a Marine Corps Gazette article "Humans Are More Important Than Hardware" written by Captain Bryan Claudio, a Special Operations Team Commander with the 3d Marine Raider Battalion. For those unfamiliar, Marine Raiders are the special operations unit of the US Marine Corps with a rich legacy going back to World War II.
It's a well-written piece that focuses on building adaptable, high-performing teams, pulling on a broad spectrum of lessons from special operations to Google's "Project Aristotle."
Organizations are terrible at predicting their next challenge. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, when addressing West Point cadets in 2011, stated:
When it comes to predicting the nature and location of our next military engagements, since Vietnam, our record has been perfect. We have never once gotten it right, from the Mayaguez to Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Balkans, Haiti, Kuwait, Iraq, and more.
So how to prepare?
To summary one of the article's key points: in today's ever-changing landscape, mission success is driven by agility.
More specifically, mission success is driven by agile teams of humans and agile processes first; hardware and software systems support the humans and processes. Humans first, hardware second, not the other way around.
Agility is a topic that comes up frequently here. From posts on agility in the military and software, reducing risk with agile processes, and even organizational core values based on Calvinball, success in dynamic environments hinges on three things:
- Tight feedback loops
- Shared consciousness
- Empowered execution
For those interested in a battle-tested perspective on building high-performing teams, I highly recommend reading the article, and General Stanley McChrystal's Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World as well.
Access and download the article .pdf using the link below: