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  1. Scott April 1, 2008 at 2:22 am |

    When it comes to adoption and incorporation of new technologies, the barrier is getting to the starting line (or S1) in some cases. In the DoD, organizational priorities, supporting requirements and fielded capabilities are purposely directed from the top down to ensure a unified approach across the enterprise. One of the challenges in a hierarchical organization is seeding technology initiatives at the executive level, where position and status are often achieved through careful management of the status quo. The easiest course of action is typically ‘going with what you know’ and sticking to the road well-travelled. While the technology adoption and SL curve may resemble each other, the character of the organization will determine how parallel they are.

    I’d argue that because of our risk-averse nature in both military procurement and operations, S1 doesn’t typically start until the ‘late majority’ or ‘laggard’ phase of tech adoption in the larger society. Militarily, the US enjoys an asymmetric quantitative advantage compared to our world competitors. The same could be said of the Soviet Union decades ago, but it eventually fell to a more nimble and qualitatively better foe. We may find the tables turned on us some day in a similar scenario. While this is a military example, it would apply to any organization with a risk-averse or change-resistant leadership. To encourage agility, a learning organization has to be led from the top. The CEOs, COOs, Generals and Admirals also need to be the “Chief Learners” to ensure technologies and their strategic, operational and tactical employment are allowed to incubate early and are adopted more quickly when their worth is established. The challenge — from line worker to middle manager — is to support and encourage their seniors’ education. The young deck seamen and mail room clerks of the world are the first to blog, Twitter, bookmark as well as buy the newest games and gadgets. They should be encouraged to push the tools and ideas they gain from those personal acquisitions up the organization. Don’t leave it to the CEO and serendipity.

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