Friday, March 23, 2007

The death of common sense......

I know why I am so frustrated this week. It is because we have lost the ability to empower people to make decisions at the right level. Watched a bunch of guys get their a**s handed to them because they took fuzzy direction and tried to run with it. In the process they misinterpreted that direction so when they got to see the Big Guy with it, he was.....well.....less than thrilled. Back to the drawing board.

I blogged about this subject one time before when I was in Korea. Too many decisions get made at too high a level. Which in turn requires such a scripted process that the hard questions do not get asked nor do senior personnel have the time to do the detailed reading that have might allowed an "easier course correction" to be made before a bunch of hardworking guys went down a rat hole.

Why does this happen? Because someone made a mistake once....or twice. And the senior person got burned by it, and regretted not more closely micromanaging the process. So future actions require the "eye of the master". The subordinate learns what from this process? Take the path of least resistance---and tell the boss what he wants to hear. The days of a good ass chewing, and then move on, are gone I fear. Thanks to the advent of Power Point and the VTC. Which allows the operational decision maker to become way too involved in the tactical.

Now of course, in war, the price of mistakes are high. Furthermore, peoples lives are involved. So there are some things that have to be vetted all the way. However, that said, not everything is worth doing to perfection. Some things are worth doing only good enough and some are not worth doing at all. The trick was always to know which was which.

One of the more depressing things I observe every time I come here is how little authority is delegated to the right level. And how little effort is devoted to getting the initial guidance right in the first place, then let the workers get the job done. I'll bet our overly inflated levels of decision making have a lot to do with the fiasco in Iraq. It is depressing to meet men with over 24 years of service to their country and some solid operational experience, being reduced to slick ad men selling a product.

Of course on that judgment there will be nay sayers, but I'll stand by my guns. Decision makers don't have enough time to think, read and ask questions in a less formal way. They are too busy getting ready for the next brief.

Maybe it is because USAF people spend too much time watching a guy like this:

Maybe if they spent a little more of their off time drinking this:

While working on this:

They would have a better perspective! Let the games begin!


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