Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Good order and discipline

So there's some debate on this Navy Times article:
http://www.navytimes.com/prime/2012/11/PRIME-navy-mcpon-to-chiefs-focus-on-better-discipline-111211w/

Having actually read the article, it's SOP for the Navy Times: have a catchy, angry headline, but a normal article. The MCPON isn't throwing the Chiefs Mess under the bus; rather, he is calling on the Mess to do some basics: set the example, focus on what we can fix (and not issues like budgets or long deployments), etc.

One of the things I learned from reading the book The 360 degree leader was that the best place in any organization to effect change is from the middle. Everyone seems to focus on our top leaders: the generals, the admirals, the captains and colonels. But the crazy truth is that while they do have a lot of influence on a command's climate, they are too often given too much credit by our media for the outcome. The reality is that our middle managers, the division chiefs and the division officers, are the ones creating the outcomes or failures.

This isn't just pipe dream thinking. Look at the average surface ship. The CO sets the tone, and the XO enforces discipline, but ultimately who is checking up that the average sailor is doing their job? Who really ensures training, maintenance, and operations happen? Who interacts the most with any particular sailor? It's the division officer and division chief, the best team the Navy can come up with.

Unfortunately, I read a report today about the status of training and readiness on some of our ships, and it was sad. The comments were blunt: chiefs and first classes that weren't present, focusing more on their ESWS or "duties" in the mess or FCPOA instead of doing their jobs. Second and third class petty officers were left to their own devices. The report didn't even mention the division officer, who I suspect was completely unengaged, probably working on his SWO pin.

MCPON is right...but is missing one piece. He needs to talk about the DIVO/DIVC team. It's not just the chief's job. A division officer or a division chief, on their own, can keep a division above water with superhuman effort. Only a team can take a division to greatness, and prevent the misconduct disease from ever taking hold.

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