Thursday, January 3, 2013

Attacking the root of a problem

Interesting article about the information warfare going on between Israeli and Palestinian forces:

The key point isn't the technology here...rather, it's the approach. Israel is good at killing people. They have the technology, weapons, people and know-how to kill any number of Palestinians. But the reality is that they won't win their war by killing Palestinians alone. They have to get the population to quit fighting them, and get enough international pressure on the Palestinians to stop fighting...a pretty hard task, considering how biased most of Israel's neighbors are against it's existence.

The approach they are taking is unique. Rather than continue to simply kill Palestinians, they seek to undermine their willpower by breaking down their arguments of mistreatment, and using the internet and social media to quickly disburse the results.

The takeaway here is that they are going after the real problem. We often get told to solve the superficial problems, and forget to target what is really wrong. Take morale, for example. I've heard the complaint that morale was low at my command when I first showed up, but what surprised me the most was that the complaints mainly came from divisions that never deployed...meaning the folks working a 9-5 job were less happy than the 70% OPTEMPO deployers leaving their families. How can this be?

From the questions we had to answer on a site survey (such as: do you trust your chain of command?) you'd never find the answer. I simply sat down with a lot of sailors and just asked the question: what at this command makes you unhappy?

The number one answer: I feel my job is meaningless.

Now it all makes sense. The deploying sailors feel they have meaningful jobs (since they see up close the effects), so they are happy at work, while the desk-bound sailors on their first tour hate everything, because they don't see where all their efforts go.

Knowing this, dumping money into MWR and taking more days off doesn't solve the problem. Engagement by mid-grade leadership (chiefs and division officers) and explaining to sailors why their efforts matter make all the difference...and is a far cheaper solution.

Are you fixing the right problems at work, or are you just fixing the symptoms?