Management Lessons From Bob Gates

Bob Gates’ speech on defense reform in Chicago yesterday is filled with fist-pumping lines. ("…[I]f we can’t bring ourselves to make this tough but straightforward decision — reflecting the judgment of two very different presidents, two secretaries of defense, two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the current Air Force secretary and chief of staff — where do we draw the line?") But I think I like this bit, from the Q&A, the b… well, not the best, but it’s up there:

So the reality is, what I’ve learned in all three places is, particularly when it comes to leading change, the central strategy for me has been that it’s my responsibility to set the goal, to set the vision, but then to incorporate the professionals in the organization in figuring out how to accomplish that goal: How do we get from here to where we need to be?

Because the truth is, if they participate in that, if they help design the solution, then they will embrace it and they will defend it once you’ve left. I worked for too many people in the government who came in and tried to impose change from the top, and by fiat. And the change walked out the door the day they left. So the key is bringing the professionals on board, working with them, establishing a productive and constructive partnership. And then I think you have the opportunity for permanent change.

Quite right. You treat the bureaucracy like an enemy and they’ll treat you like one and undermine your shit. You enlist them, they cooperate. This Is Some Good Counterinsurgency Stuff Right Here

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