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Military to Business Blog: 2019

Collection of all the military to business social-media posts that have helped build War Is My Business' audience during 2019.

10th Special Forces, SOF operations, SOF Raid, war is my business

Eliot A. Cohen  - "Swift Exploitation"

December 30, 2019

“The first of these was the extraordinary man-hunting operation led by General Stanley McChrystal in Iraq, which used elite special operations forces to capture or kill key enemy operatives. The key to their success, however, was not merely the ability to apprehend key operatives, but to swiftly exploit the papers, thumb drives, laptops, cell phones, and the like found in one location, and to immediately act on the basis of such information to pounce on a secondary target.” Eliot A. Cohen

One important aspect of any military operation is the ability to take advantage of opportunities as they are presented. As the environment changes, opportunities will make themselves available and you will need the foresight and drive to exploit them. In military and business operations, we actually create the change in the environment that shapes the conditions to our end. As the change occurs, however, we may create the opportunities by which we can exploit, or not. In the case of McChrystal’s efforts, they took advantage of fleeting intel that had to be acted upon quickly.

In business, there is an example given by Gary Vaynerchuk in his book “The Thank You Economy” in which he discussed the failure of Old Spice to act on the success of their commercials.

“I was sure that Old Spice planned to use the information it has on its almost 120,000 Twitter followers, to start engaging with each and every one of them on a personal, meaningful level… Old Spice thought when the campaign was done that they were done. What their silence on Twitter tells me is that they’re through with me. They’re glad that I, and thousands of others, spent our money with them, and now they ‘re just going to sit back on their laurels…”

It is good to be able to identify when your plans have failed and when you need to cut losses, but there is a measure of failure involved in not following up success with renewed energy to compound it for greater gains.

Churchill at harvard, winston churchill, harvard, 1943, war is my business

Winston Churchill  - "Price of Greatness"

December 28, 2019

“The price of greatness is responsibility… one cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes… You cannot stop. There is no halting-place at this point. We have now reached a stage in the journey where there can be no pause. We must go on. It must be a world of anarchy or world order.” -Winston Churchill

Churchill spoke these words to undergraduates attending Harvard on September 6th 1943, and he spoke of a time of America’s rise as a global superpower to which all other nations would looks towards. That the United States could no longer isolate itself from the affairs of the world, and that – good or bad – America must get involved. America would have to become that center of gravity to which the democracies of the world could rally around, and to which it adversaries would target. This was very much the position Great Britain held after their coalition’s successful defeat of Napoleon in 1815, and Churchill saw this shift taking place with the United States at the helm.

In Business, we too have centers of gravity that others rally around or against in a bid for consumer attention and capital. Different markets have their own juggernauts, and in time they are supplanted by competition or even other emerging markets. Social networking was its own emerging market at the beginning of the 21st Century with Myspace taking market share, and then it was supplanted by Facebook who then became and still is the center of gravity. Facebook’s position, however, is weakened as other social media and networking sites emerged and gained popularity - YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. While hegemony and conflict over consumer interests are not as long-lasting as that of international politics on foreign policy, we do see a little bit of the volatile nature of humanity in these more dynamically shifting consumer markets.

1914 truce, christmas truce, wwi, world war one, war is my business

Ernst Jünger  - "Without Animus"

December 24, 2019

"Throughout the war, it was always my endeavor to view my opponent without animus, and to form an opinion of him as a man on the basis of the courage he showed. I would always try and seek him out in combat and kill him, and I expected nothing else from him. But never did I entertain mean thoughts of him. When prisoners fell into my hands, later on, I felt responsible for their safety, and would always do everything in my power for them." -Ernst Jünger

In December of 1914, as the Great War approached its first Christmas, many informal truces sprang up along the trenches. They sung songs on the night of Christmas Eve, played games and exchanged gifts during Christmas Day. The Germans and their French and British adversaries were able to see the humanity in each other - instead of silhouettes hundreds of meters away.

Jünger's sector was not as amicable as attempts to start a truce failed as adjacent units were constantly firing. As Ernst said, "It was all in all a less than merry Christmas."

While businesses don't necessarily engage in lethal combat against one another, it is good on occasion to remember that our competition is just like us. For every headhunter that is trying to snatch your best people, competing owner that is warming up to your clients, or employees that decide to work for another firm, you will find people trying to feed their children. People trying to get the best out of their situation - to improve their lot, and that of their family.

For many, business is a means to provide for those they love, and they sacrifice their time and energy to do just that. We can't hold them in contempt for trying to get the best value out of their time, because for many they would rather spend it with those they care about. In business, as in combat, don't take it personal. Even if it feels like an attack on you personally, everyone is just doing what they must.

Soldier and Civilian, World War One, WWI, genba, kaizen, management by walking around, MBWA, war is my business

Eliot A. Cohen - "Management By Walking Around"

December 18, 2019

“The term “management by walking around” was not yet invented - it would take another sixty or seventy years for that - but the concept was in place. Clemenceau, perhaps because of his years as a journalist and before that as a clinician, understood the importance of detailed information - the kind acquired not by reading reports but by looking people in the eye, observing the way they held themselves, hearing their small complaints - sharing, however briefly, the way they lived.” -Eliot A Cohen

It is nice when authors on military matters use business terms, and Cohen’s assessment in Clemenceau’s technique is true. In Kaizen it is called Genba, but the management by walking around (MBWA) has the same purpose in its adoption. Military leaders get a greater understanding of the conditions of the field when they are actually there to experience it. They can see the friction points, they can sense the impact on morale, and see if guidance is reaching the lowest levels.

In a business working the floor, office, delivery bays, or anywhere in the proverbial “trenches” it can be a sense of relief -or dread- when making an appearance. It shouldn’t be a “gotcha” moment though, it should be about ensuring regulations are being followed and needs are being met.

89th Division, WWI, World War One, 314th Engineers, war is my business

The 89th Division - "Military Courtesy"

December 16, 2019

“Now military courtesy is nothing more or less than the recognition of the military system and an outward token of willing acquiescence in it. Thus it serves a dual purpose; it smoothes life of some of its asperities, as courtesy does in ordinary existence; but more than this, its practice is a constant exercise of discipline, the daily practice of an act which, by constant repetition, becomes a fixed habit of recognition of the military system, so that in times of stress each and every individual can be depended upon to act in conformity with that system. The effect is psychological, and on the subconscious as much as the conscious mind.” -History of the 89th Division 1917-1918-1919

A military, as are large and well-functioning businesses, are organizations that are made up of people executing processes in support of systems. These systems are deemed important in the production of certain desired results necessary to the functioning of that organization. For military organizations, you have systems for logistics and Human Resources as much as for combat. The processes are the steps that individuals assigned to support those systems execute in order to achieve those results. The more complex an organization the more import its systems and processes are to mission accomplishment.

For Toyota, they have the Toyota Production System (TPS) to ensure that the training of its people, the relationships with its suppliers, and the work conducted on the manufacturing floor are synergized. If you see Toyota workers on the floor they will look like human robots, not because they are mindless, but because they are focused on habitual processes. Because of this, they allow their brains to automate the movement of their bodies (like a person may drive a car without paying attention), while their focus is on the quality do their work and identifying defects that make occur during the process.

wesley clark, kosovo, air power, force protection, war is my business

Eliot A. Cohen - "Force Protection"

December 15, 2019

In regards to Kosovo:

"An unthinking requirement for "force protection" as the first mission for American soldiers, ahead of any objective for which they might be put in harm's way, reflects an unwillingness to come to terms with what the use of force means; today, rather than the reckless dissipation of strength, it means an only slightly less reckless conservation of it." -Eliot A. Cohen

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." -John A. Shedd

A military's purpose is to employ, or threaten to employ, force in order to compel their will upon others - a very Clausewitzian perspective. But that being said, the organizations of the military work towards employing the right type of force to shape conditions towards a desired end. It can be dangerous work, but necessary as the proper application of force at the right place requires someone, at sometimes, to be there to apply that force. Everything else is about getting that warfighter ready to do just that, when they are needed.

It is important to safeguard the lives of our service members, but not at the expense of the mission and their purpose for being there. James H. Toner would say "principle precedes purpose, purpose precedes people," and it is up to civilian leaders to explain that purpose to the nation. You must balance the force protection measures with your ability to still accomplish the mission, instead of making it your priority - the people can't proceed purpose.

In business, the purpose is to make a profit, or in the case of a nonprofit to achieve some type of social benefit. That isn't to say that a for-profit business couldn't do some type of social good, or that a nonprofit could make money to fund itself, but that they can't do these at the expense of their purpose. I know of some for-profit businesses that try to engage in some type of social good, but fail to achieve much. They seem to pander to those outside their target market.

somolia, us intervention, mission command, command and control, unified command, war is my business

Eliot A. Cohen - "Unified Command"

December 14, 2019

"Here too civilian abdication, not military arrogance, was to blame... Far from abusing the military by micromanaging it, the Clinton administration abused it by failing to take the war seriously and inquire into means, methods, and techniques. Its civilian leadership (to take just the Somalia case) by refusing to ask why American forces in Somalia were operating under several different commands - commands which communicated with one another poorly and in some cases not at all." -Eliot A. Cohen

The United States military - as most of our allies and partners - undertake complex and hazardous missions that require coordination and cooperation with a multitude of differing types of organizations: joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational. As a result, command and support relationships must be identified and understood by all partners. Who has command authority? What are the restrictions of the various organizations? Who is in support of whom? What are the lines of communication, and how are priorities identified? Not clearly defining these was a cause of numerous problems for those Rangers in Mogadishu, and shows the importance of having engaged civil leaders shaping plans with military advisors and commanders.

For businesses, contractors and sub-contractors wouldn't conduct their business without a defined scope of work - stating the work they are being contracted to do and how much, if any, they are allowed to work outside that clearly defined scope. They shouldn't conduct work without clear guidance of who is in charge on the site, the times they are allotted to work, and how to handle any incidental issues that may come up. The relationships must be clearly defined or else misuse between the contractor, their company, and the client may be damaged - litigation at worst.

iraqi army, scuds, iraq, desert storm, dick cheney, bush, powell, schwarzkopf, business

Eliot A. Cohen - "SCUDS"

December 12, 2019

"The impetus for an active air campaign against the Iraqi missiles came from Washington and was resisted in the field. Because the SCUD missiles were notoriously inaccurate, one general openly shrugged off the mobile missiles as being militarily unimportant - a remark that demoralized air crew and helped convince the Israelis that their concerns did not rank high with the Americans. When the secretary of defense was brief on the handful of aircraft sorties that Central Command would throw against the missile launchers, he erupted. "Goddamn it, I want some coverage out there. If I have to talk to Schwarzkopf, I'll do it."" -Eliot A Cohen >

From the military perspective, SCUDS were unimportant. They wouldn't be able to achieve the desired effects on the battlefield with conventional payloads, and; therefore, were not high-payoff targets for the coalition. One of Washington's concerns, however, was that SCUD attacks on Israel might compel them to enter into the conflict against Iraq - something that could have angered our Arab partners and threaten the coalition.

In business, we need to determine how external players may react to our courses of action. Something as simple as choosing one supplier over another can have future ramifications. Think of the time when #Nintendo decided to break off its partnership with #Sony and partner with Philips instead. In response to this, Sony would take the CD-ROM tech they were developing for Nintendo and shape it into the Sony #PlayStation - becoming the rival they feared and cutting into their bottom line for more than two decades and going.

israel, ben-gurion, david ben gurion, IDF, yishuv, business

David Ben-Gurion - "Intellectual Inertia"

December 11, 2019

"The most dangerous enemy to Israel's security is the intellectual inertia of those who are responsible for security. This simple and fundamental idea guided me from the day that I accepted, at the 22nd Zionist Congress, responsibility for the security of the yishuv. And this simple and fundamental thought I tried to instill in all of the comrades that worked with me on security matters before the war, during the war, and after it." -David Ben-Gurion

Ben-Gurion's #quote refers - when he speaks of intellectual inertia - to complacency in thought. It is the human propensity to continue to think and act the same way simply because it worked in the past, everyone thinks this way, or "that is the way we have always done it." For him, this was very dangerous for the young State of Israel's security, because - unlike other nations - #Israel didn't necessarily have the territory to lose in order to learn new lessons.

Constantly thinking about the bigger picture, reassessing problems from a new perspective, and analyzing market conditions for new threats and opportunities. For example, with the advent of digital cameras, Polaroid failed to adjust - suffering from intellectual inertia - because its profit model relied on the sale of film, not cameras.

ferdinand foch, foch, wwi, ww1, great war, business

Ferdinand Foch - "Animate and Serve Them"

December 6, 2019

“The aspects of war are ever a function of the engines placed at its disposal. Man alone, however gallant he may be, cannot change them; for without his machines he is powerless. And, since in war, machines change constantly and become ever more abundant, one of the first duties of the soldier at the front is to animate and serve them. These were things we had learned before the year 1914 closed.” -Ferdinand Foch

If you are familiar with the saying, “we shape our tools, and then our tools shape us” then you may see where Foch is coming from. In order to gain an edge over competitors and gain market share we necessarily develop tech and processes that make achieving those objectives more effective. In turn, they become their own entities in which we always must adapt to support. In a way, we become the tool of our tools in a sort of symbiotic relationship. The French learned this in 1914, while the Americans and Pershing would have to learn this in 1918.

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