Want a Work Culture like a Special Operations Unit?
by J.C. Glick
The Army Rangers have the Ranger Creed.
The Navy SEALs have the Navy SEAL Creed.
The Green Beret’s have the Special Forces Creed.
AFSOC has their own creeds.
As does MARSOC.
What guides your organization and the people in it?
If you asked any businessman today, or any business student for that matter, what aligns employees in an organization, they will tell you a mission statement. Ask that same person what gets them there, they will tell you a vision statement. But ask that person, what gives their employees meaning and purpose, they will hesitate, maybe repeating one of the previous answers, or some esoteric response with little grounded in reality. The problem – now, and in the future – is that mission and vision statements won’t be enough to get organization to the next level of greatness. Today’s workforce needs meaning and purpose to drive to goals – money will not be enough – and the future looks like this trend will not change.
Mission statements came to business in the 1940’s, most likely due to a population coming out of wartime military service. Vision statements started to appear shortly thereafter in the 1950’s. Both had a tremendous impact on business – mission statements told organizations what they did – vision statements told them where they were going and how to get there. However, what neither of these documents addressed was “who” makes up the organization, nor the discipline required of the leaders and employees. What organizations want, and need, are their people to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. They want this internalized by all their people so they can act, not re-act, on the fly, in unpredictable circumstances, and come to solutions independently, that meet the intent of the organization and its leaders.
The paradigm shift that is needed is something that allows leaders to go beyond the policies, procedures and metrics. Leaders need something that provide principles on how to lead, and how an organization should operate and make decisions that provide purpose for their employees. The solution is a culture statement that tells the organization who they are, which will help them in what they do and how they do it. Why a culture statement and not company values? Values are wonderful, but they become stand alone and absolute. Unfortunately, values cannot be absolute – it is the application of values that matter. It’s more than a document, it’s a process, a journey toward better outcomes.
All organizations have cultures, however, few have deliberate cultures. The goal is to develop a culture statement that is organic to your organization. Through a collaborative process, we can facilitate the development of a culture statement that provides leadership and operational principles that gives an organization what it needs to progress. A culture statement provides a clear and concise roadmap of who you are as an organization – and how you should make decisions, operate and lead. This deliberate document is the foundation of your mission, vision as well as your day to day operations. It allows you to recruit effectively and grow intentionally.
Kenning Associates, my company, specializes in creating deliberate culture using techniques used by military Special Operations. The first steps involve facilitating a discussion with people from all levels in your organization, in order to shape the internal ideas of an “ideal culture”. After collecting the information, Kenning synthesizes the main thoughts, developing a draft for review by the top tier leadership. After the first draft, the leadership draft is socialized among the organization for employee review and revision. The final draft is a collaborative draft of all levels for dissemination – though not all senior leadership needs to be present, they need to be invested in the process.
This culture creation has worked for professional football teams, universities, Fortune 100 companies and countless others. Kenning’s patented techniques get the absolute best from your people and make your organization as successful as the best units in the military. If you are interested in learning more contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JC Glick and Alice Atalanta recently published a brilliant book together, Meditations of an Army Ranger: A Warrior Philosophy for Everyone. Add it to your bookshelf, here.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal March 26, 2019.
J.C. served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer for 20 years, primarily in special operations and special missions units with more than 11 combat tours. Since retiring from the military, J.C. has brought his innovative and unconventional thoughts on education, leadership and resiliency into the private sector, consulting with Fortune 500 companies, the NFL, NBA, NCAA and professional sports teams including the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Hornets.
He is considered a thought leader in adaptive and proactive programs of instruction centered on the development of leadership behaviors and values suited to dynamic environments and situations of ambiguity and adversity. J.C. recently developed the “Prodromos Developmental Model”, a capacity-building system designed to develop people and leaders for the future, which is outlined in his book. His methods have been featured in Forbes Magazine and the Huffington Post and his work has been referenced in Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur.
He holds a Masters Degree from the Naval War College and was a Senior Fellow in the Service Chief’s Fellowship at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
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