Re: Intro -- James McGarrahan LO3859

lifvendahl thomas (
Sun, 26 Nov 1995 10:02:50 -0600 (CST)

Replying to LO3804 --

On Wed, 22 Nov 1995 b624!b624a! wrote:

> In reply to Capt. McGarrahan's intro (LO3768), Thomas Lifvendahl asked how
> the Marines can "fully integrate the knowledges of enlisted personnel
> within the Corps tight, vertically integrated management style."
> This is a great question, and I will anxiously await the Captain's
> response! Can a strict "chain-of-command" survive in a true learning
> organization? I am a Navy lieutenant. In facilitating teams and groups of
> learners in the Navy, I have found this to be one of the biggest concerns
> of our "middle managers" - they are reluctant to relinquish their position
> power. This is also true, in many cases, of the "senior leadership" as
> James mentions in his intro.
> I often hear from military personnel - both officer and enlisted - that
> our time-honored authoritarian style of leadership is necessary in combat
> situations. But it seems that, the closer we get to true life-or-death
> situations, the less we rely on formal power, and the more we rely on
> knowledge power. For example, if someone yells, "GET DOWN!" in a combat
> zone, not many of us will search for the source of the advice to find out
> if that person really has the authority to tell us what to do.
> Thomas, you wrote that if officers relinquish some of their control, it
> "undermines the command structure required of the USMC unique mission."
> I wonder... is our current "command structure" really required, or do we
> assume that it is because "we've always done it that way"?
> Jane Collins
> TQL Coordinator, Naval Air Station Pensacola
> e-mail: b624!b624a!

Excellent Jane!!! Having been shot at, the initial response is to "get
down" and you thank the person for the matter from whom it
comes from. But reaction requires direction and direction requires some
sense of mission/objective. Rank may not determine this, location
might. There have been situations where a lowly enlisted person was
better able to direct responses (forward observors for example) and their
knowledge was more valuable then the general's in that situation. I
would argue that supplanting the command structure is not what is
important, it is validating those other "knowledges", and their producers
when it is appropriate to do so.

Thomas A. Lifvendahl, Ed.D. 
Northern Illinois University 
RE/ACE Office 
DeKalb, Illinois 60115