Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Monday, July 13, 2015

Managing for Others or Managing for Yourself

Managing is an art form that relied heavily on critical thinking and communication skills to keep large groups of people working toward the same goals. Stronger managers focus on the development of their teams to meet market needs. People who can manage for others versus themselves is a great asset any organization. Managers who can meet performance goals and do so in a way that creates a better department should be in high demand. 

It is in our natural best interest to manage for ourselves and this can make it a difficult competing ideology against managing for others. When someone becomes aware they should manager for others they have done so against the backdrop of years of learning, insight and reflection.  People who create these conclusions have thought about what is important.

They must also be able to step above their biological and emotional needs to take a higher road in workplace decisions. When choices are required they look to promote the group over themselves. This can be difficult if someone is still struggling with unresolved issues.  We see this over and over again among people in leadership positions making self-interested decisions. 

Consider how one manager will take the credit for work by their subordinates while another will give credit where credit is due. The first still has overpowering needs to feel important, competent, secure and liked. They are willing to break social norms and trust in order to get the next promotion or raise.  The latter person has resolved their issues and can step above them to create greater trust with their team.

Hiring managers is more than meeting metrics. Even though meeting is important it is also necessary to continue to meet them over and over in a sustainable way. If a manager brings his/her team to a higher level of performance and solidifies their trust they can keep the performance at a higher level for longer periods. Poor managers will only hit the target for a short period of time until subordinate’s motivation decreases.  Building a team, keeping people engaged and motivating them to a purpose is the ultimate purposes of “management”.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Does Military Budget Cuts Offer New Opportunities?

The world is changing and the military is changing with it. As the heavy trench warfare of WWI and WWII subsides and new forms of guerrilla warfare emerge it becomes important for the U.S. military to maintain its capacity to use both pinpointed and mass insertion strategies. This requires a higher level of knowledge and ability that will likely put pressure on the Army to adapt to higher forms of combat.

General Martin Dempsey announced at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing that dwindling resources is a major factor in a reduction from 490,000 to 450,000 troops (1).  There has already been a 13% in civilian and 11% in civilian billets (2). This will mean that current resource levels will need to be used more efficiently and effectively to ensure that they create maximum results.

What happens in government is important for the Army. Overspending in some areas leaves other areas with less. Balancing the national budget ensures that the military has adequate supplies and resources when they are needed. Resources are used as a deterrent and as a capacity builder for our armed forces.

Even though reduction in budgets does come with some tough choices it does offer a few opportunities to adapt the system to do more with less. All systems change the most when under pressure. The Army’s design can be improved to encourage new ideas, technology, learning, and skill sets that can create responsiveness to new threats. It is possible to use the platform of the old to create something even greater.

The military of the future will look less like the past as new levels of functionality are created. Robotics and high technology gear will make their way onto the battlefield and this will require a new type of soldier. Recruits will need to be highly adaptable, fast learners, and high skilled to keep up with new needs.

A few ideas among the thousands:

-Integration of Functions with Other Agencies: ISIS has taught us that lines between insurgent and civilian can be blurred. Integrating certain intelligence and operational functions helps utilize information more effectively.

-Outsourcing Non-Essential Functions:  Entities that focus on their core value propositions often have higher results due to focus of effort. Evaluate which functions are non-essential and whether or not they can be outsourced to save money and improve functionality. For example, some aspects of education and training can be outsourced.

-Actively Recruiting High Performers: Actively recruiting promising young recruits that either have the potential or realized physical and mental skill to engage in modern military practices creates a stronger base to build from. With fewer slots available the basic skill requirements should move upward.

-Using Veterans in Support Functions: Veterans knowledge and skill shouldn’t be wasted once they leave the military. Encouraging veteran’s to work in support functions helps to ensure that these functions get more efficient and effective over time.  

-Developing Innovative Internal Frameworks: Developing mechanisms for the exploration and implementation of new knowledge, ideas, and efficiencies. The same innovative policies and approaches should be encouraged among suppliers.  A flatter organization could be beneficial with a rise in soldier skill and knowledge.

-Raising Active Duty Years: Higher skills will require additional costly training.  Raising the years of service requirements and potential pay/incentives for highly skilled soldiers encourages a higher return on investment from training. Age is more subjective in today’s world.

-Streamline and Cut Fat: Once new ideas are developed and are shown to be effective they should be streamlined to create efficiencies while still allowing for sufficient adaptability. Streamlining allows for less waste and greater effectiveness that saves taxpayer dollars.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Benefits of Mobile Online Military Training

Our military can be called to any place on the earth within a few minutes notice. They leave behind their lives to trek across the globe to protect American interests. With online military training service members can continue to advance their military careers from anyplace and at any time to ensure they continue to be the most advanced armed force in the world.

According to a 2011 pamphlet issued by Department of the Army,”The U.S. Army’s competitive advantage directly relates to its capacity to learn faster and adapt more quickly than its adversaries. In the highly competitive global learning environment where technology provides all players to nearly ubiquitous access to information, the Army cannot risk failure through complacency, lack of imagination, or resistance to change (p. 5).”

This learning must be as mobile as the military itself, or the force will not be its best when needed. Online education is mobile and versatile making learning possible from devices as small as a cell phone; perhaps someday as small as an Apple Smart Watch. Uninterrupted knowledge updating and training saves time and money while improving effectiveness.

The design of the model of that training mirrors current online education while updating delivery methods as technology emerges. Developing military training and educational courses is possible if you have the right personnel and substantial communication with military leadership. Student management can mirror current military practices through the use of cohorts.

Such training is based on the need and often includes critical thinking, military theory, leadership, management, military history, tactics, supply-chain management, etc. The possibilities are endless and limited by the knowledge itself; a great place to blend theory and practice. A few ideas are as follows:

-Hiring Ex-Military Doctors, Specialists and Employees: Hiring veterans not only helps the military retain its knowledgeable staff as a self-developing system but also allows military members a responsible place to work where they can capitalize on their military background for the benefit of the nation. Faculty that has experience in the forces and has advanced knowledge on the main subjects creates a superior product from which other military units may learn.

-Learning Cohorts: Using cohorts that allow for a team of learners, much like a platoon, allows members to work together and create an online group of students. This support network keeps military personnel engaged and connected throughout their development process. It is possible to consider using different skilled genres (MOS) and/or military branches to develop cross-functional leadership teams.

-Training and Credit: Courses in leadership, management, history, homeland security, etc. not only have military applications but can also be degree bearing. Helping military personnel enhance their effectiveness while in the service and obtain a degree faster after discharge makes a big difference in socializing seasoned soldiers back to civilian life through a connected medium that bridges two worlds.

-Military, Business, and Academic Innovation: Putting the polished practicality of military minds, business strategy, and academic theory into the same entity creates an incubator of knowledge and innovation for service stakeholders. Academic theories can be established, matched with business practicality, and tested in the field.

Department of the Army. (2011). The U.S. Army learning concept for 2015. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2. Fort Monroe, VA: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Understanding Differences as a Sign of Intelligent and Scientific Thinking

The ability to understand differences between similar objects has always been a sign of intelligence. Science itself is based on the idea of investigating the differences and similarities of objects to create a full picture of a phenomenon. When done well, we can create hypotheses, models and theories that help to explain and predict our environment. Our adaptation and full development as a person is based on recognizing and appreciating differences.

Simplicity and definiteness make for great followers but hardly constitutes leadership. Intelligent people look deeper at issues to see if they can find differences or similarities that help them understand and create working models to use in other places. Persons who lack the will to put forward effort, or the faculty of intelligence, to understand complex ideas jump to quick conclusions.

The issue of categorization is a significant problem. Broad categories are simple and easy to use. Examples of simplicity include discrimination, racism, bigotry, etc. that cannot differentiate between members of a general category. They are not able to understand that sometimes the general category doesn’t represent anything but what is going on in the perceivers head.

Intelligent people rarely say, “All people are like this….or “Those people all do this….). Then have the insight and intellectual faculty to see differences between people and events by looking beyond the obvious. They are not easily fooled into believing false information or opinion without some proof to back up the claims. They are societies intellectuals and thinkers.

Maslow and Rogers described the fully functioning person as extensional. Rogers wrote in his paper Towards a Theory of Creativity, “The creative person, instead of perceiving in predetermined categories is aware of the existential moment as it is, and therefore he is alive to many experiences that fall outside the usual categories (As cited in Hayakawa, 1958, pp. 62).”

In essence, intelligent people are more scientific in their thoughts and avoid putting items into quick heuristic categories. They think about differences, view the multiple ways in which a thing or event can be categorized, and then are open to the possibility they are wrong. Beliefs and rules are adjustable based upon new information.

Such people are aware that the world around them is not so simple, and they become accustomed to ambiguity and using their cognitive fluidity to adjust their understandings. As a fully developed individual, they can use science as an enhancement to discriminate among different elements in their environment while understanding that scientific findings are always in flux. What we believe today may be different than what we think tomorrow.

The next time you are SURE you know something…..consider re-evaluating the facts from a different perspective. Jumping to conclusions is almost never beneficial as simplicity of thought limits what we see in any particular situation.

Hayakawa, S. (1958) Symbol, Status and Personality. pp. 62 New York:HBJ

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Online Learning Has Earned its Permanent Place in Higher Education

Online learning is now a permanent part of higher education and will continue to expand its market. The ease and convenience of online education is changing the face of colleges across the country. As a modality of learning, it allows students to connect to their class and professor at times that are more convenient for them.

Traditional education is face-to-face and requires the student to be present in order learn. This leaves out many people who balance families and careers. Besides, those who live in rural areas, or out of a university’s geographical area, will be cut off from higher education.

A selection process not based on actual skill or ability is bad news for the economy. Employers require highly skilled employees who continually update their knowledge to stay competitive with the market. Those who are most likely to capitalize on higher education are left out of the mix.

Online education will likely continue to grow and become a standard, possibly superseding tradition modalities, as a delivery channel for teaching and learning. Professors and students are becoming familiar with online education and are likely to adopt more of it in the future, (Mbuva, 2014).

There is also an additional cost benefit. State budgets are getting squeezed and colleges are running in the red. Online education may continue to become a popular method of reducing campus costs and lowering overall operating costs.

Universities will continue to look toward for-profit, online models, to cut costs; even if they continue to lobby against competitive higher education ideologies. They don’t really have much of a choice. Most avenues of increasing wealth have dried up and cutting heavily will lower the quality of programs.

Virtual classrooms lower costs and expand a university's customer base. Land based colleges will maintain their prestige but will need to augment with hybrid, and/or fully online programs. They will seek to expand their offerings to support a growing need for higher education.

Online education is here to stay and it will continue to be adopted by institutions. It reduces costs and fits the needs of students. Professors and students are becoming accustomed to the online process and will seek its convenience in selecting future programs. As market factors adjust, online education may find itself a hot commodity.

Mbuva, J. (2014). Online education: progress and prospects.   Journal of Business & Educational Leadership, 5 (1).