Mastering the conflict environment

I am reading “The Accidental Guerrilla” by David Kilcullen and was struck by this sentence, “This approach would be considered a ‘counterwar strategy,’ where the key threat to be mastered would be the conflict environment itself, rather than a particular armed enemy.” I thought of the state of business today and realized that we are faced with a similar issue.  We are faced with learning how to operate in a new environment marked by constant change and increasing complexity and spend as much effort there as we do on the business itself.

This also leads to two other concepts that tie closely to this that were originated in 1999 by General Charles Krulak.  He wrote an article for the Marines Magazine titled, “The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the 3 Block War” that outlined the changes facing the military in the what some would call 4th generation warfare.

The concept of a “3 block war” illustrates the complex spectrum of challenges likely to be faced by soldiers on the modern battlefield.  These soldiers may be required to do all of the following within 3 city blocks:

  • Conduct full-scale military action
  • Perform peace keeping operations
  • Provide humanitarian relief

The term “strategic corporal” was reflective of the “notion that leadership in complex, rapidly evolving mission environments devolves lower & lower down the chain of command to better exploit time critical information into the decision-making process.”

Now let’s think about the challenges we face on a daily basis as we strive to excel in our businesses.  Do you see any similarities?  Aren’t we faced with fighting our version of a 3 block war each day as we are faced with ever-changing & shifting priorities and the need to be “brilliant generalists”?

We must learn at a rate that exceeds the rate of change and that is quite a challenge.  Perhaps changing the paradigm is a start so tomorrow, think about how to better manage the conflict environment separate and apart from the normal course of business.

As Mother Teresa was quoted as saying, “Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”


1 Comment

Filed under Adaptation, Futuring, Leadership, Strategy

One response to “Mastering the conflict environment

  1. Nice post Perry. I think this is interesting because business has always been focused on strategic planning and looking at the 30, 60, 90, day outlook to develop the 1, 3, and 5, year plan.

    I like Killculen’s stuff (or at least what I’ve seen of it anyway) in that it has no choice to be practical. Guerrilla warfare would seem to require fast and decisive action.

    So how do we learn fast enough to stay ahead of the game? I would argue that those who have really embraced technology – not just Google or the social web, but new business software applications, mobile devices, and tons of other tools that are out there now.

    It seems like access to better tools gives opportunity for specialists, to gain enough insight to become generalists in a shorter amount of time…

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