Small Wars Journal

Developing a Learning Institution: Entrenched Culture, Building the Foundation, and Asking the Right Questions

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 4:07am

Developing a Learning Institution: Entrenched Culture, Building the Foundation, and Asking the Right Questions

James Torrence


Contemporary management literature espouses the need for an organization to be agile, adaptable, and flexible. Many organizations are trying to figure out how to best adapt to become the coveted learning institution that can learn from its mistakes and continually improve in the face of changes in the operating environment. I think the answer lies in applying the principles that make a military successful in defeating a counterinsurgency to the business environment. Successful counterinsurgency campaigns require that a military becomes a learning institution, which means the same methods used by militaries to successfully combat a counterinsurgency can be replicated (with some modifications specific to the business environment) in any organization. Before addressing the principles of counterinsurgency, it is first necessary to understand the challenges associated with shifting an organization into a learning institution. The biggest hurdle in the development of a learning organization is an entrenched culture. Once one understands what leads to an entrenched culture one can then work on the application of counterinsurgency principles to improve his/her organization and turn it into a learning institution.

Entrenched culture is well known to many leaders and is something that exists in every organization. Entrenched culture acts as a roadblock in the face of an attempt at organizational change. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric captures the idea of an entrenched culture as follows:

In big companies calls for change are often greeted with a nice head fake. People nod at your presentations and pleasantly agree that, given all the data, it sure looks like change is necessary. Then they go back to doing everything they always did. If the company has been through enough change programs, employees consider you like gas pains. You’ll go away if they just wait long enough.[i]

Leading change (especially the attempt to shift to a learning institution) is difficult, especially in military and civilian organizations comprised of people who have seen so many leaders come and go. Attempting to change an organizational culture requires energy, focus, and ultimately buy-in from those that are part of an entrenched culture (sometimes it isn’t just a set of individuals but an entire organization that is part of an entrenched culture).  It is always frustrating to work on buy-in from a group of subordinates or superiors that have seen many people before one’s arrival and will see many people after one leaves and therefore are less motivated by any idea presented. The uniqueness of entrenched culture is that its origins are not rooted in negativity but rather entrenched culture develops as a result of success and becomes an obstacle because both people and organizations are unable to change. An organization’s own success can lead to its eventual downfall and inability to shift towards a more adaptable institution. 

Sidney Dekker, referencing structures in complex organizations, argues that

Failure does not come from the occasional, abnormal dysfunction or breakdown of these structures, processes and tasks, but is an inevitable byproduct of their normal functioning[ii]

The idea that the same processes, procedures, and culture in place that lead to success inevitably lead to failure is counter-intuitive but very important to understand. Dekker puts forth the notion that what makes a company successful will inevitably lead to its downfall because its focus on the qualities that make it successful will lead to it ignoring other factors in the operating environment. This is no different than an entrenched culture where people are stuck in their way of doing things regardless of their operational environment because their methods have worked in the past. Dekker is a major proponent of the learning institution and has demonstrated time and time again that many organizations (and individuals) are victims of their own success. Dekker’s body of work shows that an entrenched culture is not developed overnight, but rather through a series of small decisions that result in the reality drifting far from the original intent of an organization. Dekker coined the term “drift into failure” to describe this phenomenon contending that “drifting into Failure is not so much about breakdowns or malfunctioning of components, as it is about organizations not adapting effectively to cope with its own structure and environment.”[iii] This point is succinct and very accurate; an organization’s adherence to what made it initially successful has left it blind to its own internal and external changes, and what changes it needs to make to keep up with the current competitive environment.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Black Swan & Anti-Fragile parallels Dekker’s thoughts and argues: “something has worked in the past, until – well it no longer does, and what we have learned from the past turns out to be at best irrelevant or false, at worst viciously misleading”.[iv] In order to become a successful learning institution leaders must realize that success in the past does not correlate to future success. It is paradoxical that what makes an organization successful can lead to its eventual demise, but once leaders understand this, they can put procedures in place to ensure their organizations continually grow through learning as opposed to stagnating and eventually failing.

Learning institutions instead, cultivate innovation. One of the major issues for larger organizations with entrenched cultures is that Innovation slowly dies as an organization grows more complex and “the simple reason is that growth works against [an organization]; a bigger staff requires more processes and organizational structure.”[v] In large organizations “people inevitably get set in their ways. Roles become specialized and narrow, so employees focus on just doing the work assigned to them, rather than learning new skills.”[vi] And from there “hallway chatter dies down as people settle into their offices and cubicles. Risk aversion replaces risk taking, so that innovation is choked off.”[vii] It follows that “real innovation happens when all employees bring their best selves to work every day and freely share new ideas to help the team…”[viii]

Grasping the origin of entrenched culture is a necessity for contemporary leaders. Many leaders may be thinking: If what makes my organization successful will eventually lead to my organization failing then what can I do? The answer comes in the development of a learning institution. The learning organization has become a buzzword in management literature since Peter Senge first wrote The Fifth Discipline. Learning organizations should be more than buzzwords and involve having processes in place to adapt to an ever-changing environment. John Nagl (whose first book provided the inspiration for this article) said:

Learning in a large organization, I concluded, is a process in which subordinates close to the point of the spear identify problems and suggest solutions – a common training of all successful businesses. The key variable in determining whether organizations adapt or die is not at the lower levels but at the top: key leaders have to determine that real change is required.[ix]

This is the baseline for the higher-level argument that Nagl puts forth and begs the question: are large organizations really capable of becoming agile, adaptable, and flexible? I think that, with the right emphasis, any organization can become a learning institution, learn from its past challenges and continually adapt to meet ever-changing demands in the operational environment.

Inspiration from John Nagl & Counterinsurgency

The major questions to answer now are: Is my organization a learning institution? How do I create a learning institution? These are the questions on the mind of every top civilian and military leader in the 21st century. The author found inspiration in answering these same questions from John Nagl’s Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. Nagl’s book detailed how the British Army was successful combating an insurgency in Malaya because it was a learning organization while America was unsuccessful in Vietnam because of its inability to defeat its own entrenched culture and become a learning organization. As I was reading the book I realized that some of the same questions Nagl used to analyze the American and British Army with regard to their status (or lack thereof) as a learning organization could be re-worked and combined with contemporary literature to help managers (Army or civilian) to determine if they are in fact running learning organizations.

Nagl split up his criteria into two categories: successful counterinsurgency doctrine and how to determine if an organization is a learning institution. The rest of this article will detail his thoughts, and propose a new set of principles by which any organization can determine how successful its policies/procedures are and if they are in fact a learning institution.

Nagl’s first set of criteria are questions to determine if an army had a successful counter-insurgency doctrine:

Victory. Did the doctrine adopted achieve national goals in the conflict?

Objective.  Did the army contribute to the setting of realistic national goals in the conflict?

Unity of Command. Did the military accept subordination to political objectives?

Minimum. Did the military use the minimum amount of force necessary to accomplish the mission?

Mass. Did the military structure itself in an appropriate manner to deal with the threat at hand?[x]

Nagl Then followed with his criteria for determining if an army is in fact a learning institution:

Does the Army promote suggestions from the field?

Are Subordinates encouraged to question superiors and policies?

Does the organization regularly question its basic assumptions?

Are high-ranking officers routinely in close contact with those on the ground and open to their suggestions?

Are Standard Operating Procedures generally located and informed or imposed from the center?[xi]

Nagl’s criteria for both doctrine and learning institutions are geared towards military counterinsurgency campaigns and tried to determine “not just whether an army is interested in the collection of data…”[xii] but also if “the institution is willing and able to apply the information to create change in procedures, organization, training, and thinking about the conflict.”[xiii]Nagl’s thoughts attempt to do two things: determine if an organization has the right doctrine/policies in place to sustain or cultivate a learning institution, and determining if an organization is in fact a learning institution. His questions are thought-provoking for military leaders and I think the same line of thought he uses can be re-tooled to be applicable to management in either the military or civilian sector. I have developed a series of criteria (some similar, some different, and some the same) to determine if an organization has successfully implemented policy and if it is in fact a learning institution.

Building the Foundation

Does an organization have policies, procedures, and structures in place to facilitate a learning institution? The author developed the following criteria (with obvious inspiration from Nagl) and subsequent questions to determine if the processes are in place for an organization to become and/or sustain a learning institution:

  1. Core Competency. Did my organization pick something at which we can be the best?
  2. Objective. Did members of my organization contribute to the setting of realistic, measurable, and achievable goals to accomplish the mission while staying in line with the organizational vision?
  3. Unity of Purpose. Did members of my organization buy into the organizational vision regardless of their individual jobs?
  4. Freedom. Were my employees given freedom of maneuver within set parameters to accomplish their mission?
  5. Diversity. Does my organization have people that think differently?

The first principle is Core Competency which asks if an organization has picked the thing it does best to base its future upon. An organization must first be successful, and be successful because it is competing to be the best in a certain industry, before attempting to turn it into a learning institution. Determining what makes one’s company/organization successful is a major challenge and is the foundation of any organization. Jim Collins in Good to Great said:

“Every company would like to be the best at something, but few actually understand – with piercing insight and egoless clarity – what they actually have the potential to be the best at and, just as important, what they cannot be the best at.”[xiv]

I think many civilian and military organizations run into this issue because many organizations are staunched in tradition and a dogmatic adherence to certain methodologies (“we have always done it this way” mentality). The key is to confront the facts and be realistic about what your organization is currently achieving, and what it has the potential to achieve. There is a great example Collins gives about a math student who receives strait-As all through school through hard work and studying only to realize she cannot be the best at math when people that didn’t show up to class and didn’t study would finish a test much faster and have a much better comprehension of the material than did she. She knew she could be a good mathematician, but not a great one because she had maxed out her potential. The foundation of an organization is built upon the thing its members think it can do the best – for a civilian organization it may be customer service, for a military organization it may be provide communications support. Once an organization has determined it has the ability to be the best at its chosen mission it has a foundation from which it could eventually become a learning institution.

The second principle is Objective: Did members of the organization contribute to the setting of realistic, measurable, and achievable goals to accomplish the mission while staying in line with the organizational vision? Once one determines the focus of his/her organization the next key is to develop a series of goals and/or objectives that stay in line with the organizational vision. One can have the best idea in the world but if there aren’t realistic, measurable, and achievable goals leading towards a company vision then it is all for naught. Lara Stack, author of Execution is the Strategy succinctly summed this idea up with her assertion that “there are no shortage of good ideas, it’s not about who has the best ideas, it’s about who executes their good ideas the best.”[xv] A learning institution must first have procedures in place to meet the organizational vision so that, when it learns from errors, it can refine and optimize existing procedures. Objectives build upon the first principle of success so that, following these two objectives, an organization has a clear idea of what it must do to be successful and the way in which it will achieve that success.

The third principle is Unity of Purpose: Did members of the organization buy into the organizational vision regardless of their individual jobs? Unity of Purpose is a question of culture and leadership. Once an organization has determined what it will do to achieve success and how it will achieve success it is then up to the leadership of an organization to ensure everyone in the organization is working towards the same shared vision. Laurel J. Richie of the WNBA summed it up with the following statement:

“I keep learning time and time again about how important it is as a leader to have a clear vision and communicate it often. I’m usually very clear in my head about where I think I should be going, and I’m always learning that you cannot overcommunicate that. I get a little bored with it because it’s familiar to me but I realize it almost has to become a mantra so that everyone on the team knows where you’re headed.”[xvi]

Unity of Purpose does not suddenly arise just because a good idea and a realistic and achievable set of goals are developed. It is a culmination of leadership interaction and the culture of an organization. Richie makes a great point above that leaders need to continuously communicate their vision so that everyone is moving towards the same goal. It is important to understand that a leader should not want everyone to think the same but rather to bring their unique skill sets to help achieve a unified vision. Unity of purpose also helps mitigate the development of an entrenched culture.

An entrenched culture can easily defeat a charismatic, visionary leader. But even patient efforts to build a new culture will be defeated if the leaders and the metrics that the organization employs are not aligned with the desired new culture.[xvii]

This quote from The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership and supports the principle of Unity of Purpose; the metrics of an organization need to be aligned with the desired new culture and continuously over-communicated so that everyone in the organization is moving in the same direction. If there is any disconnect between management mantras and management actions it will result in a lack of trust amongst organizational members and break apart a shared vision. Developing a Unity of Purpose is the third of five pillars en route to having the foundations in place for shifting towards a learning institution and I think it is one of the most challenging because it is more than an idea – it is the summation of leadership and culture.

The fourth principle is Freedom. Were my employees given freedom of maneuver within set parameters to accomplish their mission? Innovation occurs in an environment that has constraints (i.e. a left and right limit) but still affords employees/subordinates room to maneuver within those constraints. Jim Collins discovered that “The good-to-great companies built a consistent system with clear constraints, but they also gave people freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system.”[xviii] Collins says that an organization needs to “build a culture around the idea of freedom and responsibility within a framework.”[xix] Creating innovation is the way in which an organization can continue to thrive in the face of an ever-changing operational environment. Freedom must be given to subordinates so that they have the ability to “go out and apply what they’ve learned to the problems they’ve never seen before with parts they’ve never used before.”[xx] The principle of Freedom only works after the other three principles are in place. Freedom would not be effective if there were not a unity of purpose – there needs to be a clear vision and a system of constraints in place for Freedom to produce innovative results. After Freedom is implemented, the last principle is diversity.

Diversity is the last of the five principles offered and is necessary to create a suitable foundation from which to develop a learning institution. An organization can have the right mission, right goals, right vision, and afford freedom to its employees but does an organization no good if everyone in the organization thinks about problems the same way. Diversity comes in many forms and is critical to eventually become a learning institution. Diversity of thought, culture, and background are some of the many types of diversity necessary for an organization to make itself better.

“Complex systems can remain resilient if they maintain diversity: the emergence of innovative strategies can be enhances by ensuring diversity. Diversity also begets diversity: with more inputs into problem assessment, more responses get generated, and new approaches can even grow as the combination of those inputs”[xxi]

Sidney Dekker’s argument above is telling of how important diversity can be to the workplace. There is no need to replicate ideas by hiring similar people – rather an organization should try to enhance its diversity to problems can be viewed with different eyes and different viewpoints.

Asking the Right Questions

Building the foundation to facilitate a learning institution is the first hurdle to moving one’s organization forward. After ensuring the framework for a learning institution is in place it is then necessary to answer the following question: Is my organization a learning institution? Using Nagl’s work as a foundation, the author added two questions to determine if one’s organization is in fact a learning institution. The following six questions can determine if you are part of a learning institution.

  1. Does your organization promote suggestions from the lowest echelons?[xxii]
  2. Are subordinates encouraged to question superiors and policies?[xxiii]
  3. Does the organization regularly question its basic assumptions?[xxiv]
  4. Are high-ranking leaders routinely in close contact with those at lower levels and open to their suggestions?[xxv]
  5. Do assessments take place at every echelon and are lessons learned from assessments implemented into the organization?[xxvi]
  6. Does your organization have a just culture?[xxvii]

Does your organization promote suggestions from the lowest echelons? Creating a learning institution means understanding the needs, thoughts, and opinions of personnel at the lowest echelons because they are operators with a more nuanced understanding of day-day-activities. I am a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt and one of the major LSS principles is genchi genbutsu, or “go and see.”

The principle is that decisions should be made, whenever possible, by those at the work site who have an intimate knowledge of what is happening and what potential solutions to any problem will work.”[xxviii]

Toyota makes it a point to take suggestions from the lowest echelons because of the knowledge held by those closest to the issues. Decision makers in large organizations tend to move further and further away from centers of operation and are thus multiple levels removed from understanding the nuances of daily operations. The lesson isn’t to try and become an expert as a decision-maker in an organization, but to take suggestions from those closest to the action because it will make leaders more informed decision maker. Learning organizations must take all points of view into account when making decisions so that it gets a diverse viewpoint. A decision with just input from upper management, or just input from the lowest echelons would paint an incomplete picture of a problem. Nagl makes this point succinctly when he talks about successful counterinsurgency operations taking into account the observations made from Soldiers on the ground working with host-nation Soldiers and civilians. In order to become a learning institution an organization has to figure out a way to continuously receive feedback from the lowest echelons.

Are subordinates encouraged to question superiors and policies? Organizations that tell their subordinates not to question superiors or policies can never learn because things will never change unless it is a top-down change. Questioning superiors and policies does not mean insubordination, but rather asking why things are done a certain way. If leaders are already aware that what makes an organization strong will eventually lead to it failing then leaders should welcome questions to superiors and policies because any flaws found will help avoid stagnation and instead strengthen the organization. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in Anti-Fragile, details this idea as follows: “Depriving Systems of Normal Stressors, vital stressors, is not necessarily a good thing and can be downright harmful.”[xxix] Subordinates asking questions of superiors and policies are healthy stressors to an organization because it ensures that processes and decision-making is optimized. Not every question of a policy and a superior will create change (in fact most questions may not lead to any changes), but over time the continual questioning will create incremental changes which is the hallmark of a learning organization.

Does the organization regularly question its basic assumptions? Karl Popper, the famous philosopher of science, made the argument that all scientists should participate in Falsificationism, which is the idea that one should continually try and disprove existing theories. Popper thought Falsificationism would lead to science becoming a learning institution which, for the most part, it has. The same idea can be applied when asking if an organization regularly questions its basic assumptions; organizations should continually scrutinize the assumptions on which it is based to ensure that those assumptions are accurate in an ever-changing operating environment. Thomas Kuhn built upon the ideas of Popper and in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and argued that once people change their basic assumptions and beliefs that it cannot be an increment or an addition to an existing thought, but rather requires a paradigm shift. Leaders must understand that if they find their basic assumptions incorrect that it necessitates a paradigm shift across members of the entire organization. Questioning one’s basic assumptions can help one learn from mistakes and new information, make new paradigm shifts if necessary, and keep up-to-date with the rapid pace of change. Organizations that fail to question their basic assumptions will be rooted in the past and will be unable to adapt quickly if they do not question anything until after those around them change.

Are high-ranking leaders routinely in close contact with those at lower levels and open to their suggestions? This is similar to the first question geared towards determining if one has a learning organization but it differs slightly. This question asks if leaders make personal contact with key personnel at the lower levels so that they can realistically capture issues and receive input. The first question asked if an organization is open to suggestions from the lowest echelons and this particular question asks if high-ranking leaders have personal contact with personnel at lower levels. Jack Welch gave the following opinion with regard to visiting personnel at lower echelons:

“Customer visits are a chance to evaluate your sales force. Plant tours are an opportunity to meet promising new line managers and see if they have the ability to run something bigger. A coffee break at a meeting is an opening to coach a team member who is about to give his first major presentation.”[xxx]

Visiting lower echelons isn’t just about fielding suggestions but about cultivating talent and providing guidance. Welch is a big proponent of taking every opportunity to inject self-confidence into those who have earned it and to provide specific praise to ensure the person knows you understand what he/she has done. It may seem obvious, but when leaders get caught up in day-to-day activities they can forget that every time they talk to a peer or subordinate that it is an opportunity for mentorship. Leaders do not have time off and need to take every opportunity to praise those that have done well, mentor peers and subordinates, and to pass along their vision so everyone is on the same page. Whenever a leader fails to do those things it is a wasted opportunity. Along with providing guidance visits to lower echelons can be a great time to receive feedback. Welch said that “the majority of people in most organizations don’t say anything because they feel they can’t and because they feel they haven’t been asked.”[xxxi] This should strike a major chord with leaders because there could be subordinates in your organization that have great ideas and are either too timid or not comfortable enough to bring up. Senior leader engagement and developing venues to personally develop and receive feedback from lower echelons is a necessity for transitioning to or sustaining a learning institution.

Do assessments take place at every echelon and are lessons learned from assessments implemented into the organization? Assessments and learning from assessments are crucial to properly developing a learning institution. In the military we have something called the After Action Review (AAR) which we are very good about conducting following any type of training. But I have found that what we do not do well is implement the lessons learned to grow from our mistakes. Taleb sums this idea up as follows:

With Every trial one gets closer to something, assuming an environment in which one knows exactly what one is looking for. We can, from trial that fails to deliver, figure out progressively where to go.[xxxii]

Every training opportunity, business deal, fitness session, etc. is something that should assessed. There are times when organizations do things very well and those lessons should be captured to ensure the reason something succeeded is replicated in the future. There are also times when an organization does something very poorly which should be captured so that others do not make the same mistake. Trial and error are necessary in order to improve upon a system. One knows the end-state one seeks, and in order to get there one must learn from one’s mistakes to progressively become closer and closer to the goal. The key is to grow stronger from failure, as opposed to becoming weaker or remaining stagnant after every trial. Imagine a basketball player that got worse when he tried new moves, or a teacher that lost intelligence when reading new material…when put this way this does not make sense. Knowing that this all makes sense one still wonders why leaders allow complex interdependent systems to grow weaker or remain stagnant when faced with adversity (we shouldn’t). Capturing lessons learned is only important if the lessons learned are implemented. Learning institutions thrive on feedback – without it no learning takes place. There need to be continuous feedback loops within an organization and smooth processes for capturing and implementing lessons learned to avoid stagnating or worse, growing weaker when the tools to make your organization better are archived in someplace that no one will ever look.

Does your organization have a just culture? The last question determines if one’s organization is a learning institution centers around the idea of just culture. People have a tendency to not admit when they are wrong which inhibits the feedback loop and stagnates the development of a learning institution. Carl Honoré does an excellent job of tackling the idea of just culture. “Admitting when we are wrong in order to learn from the error”[xxxiii] is the first ingredient of the slow fix with the goal being to creating a mea culpa atmosphere in one’s organization. Admitting mistakes means “taking the blame for serious blunders as well as the small mistakes and near misses, which are often warning signs of trouble ahead.”[xxxiv] The Royal Air Force is a great example of an attempt to create a just culture. They have a publication in which pilots input their mistakes so that others across the formation can learn (Air Clues Magazine). The interesting thing is that most pilots still submit their lessons learned or errors they made with anonymous names for fear of reprisal (there is still not a true just culture, but it is moving the right direction). He also highlights which is a website dedicated to failures and the lessons learned from different types of failures. We have a culture in the civilian and military sectors that wants to hide mistakes because of embarrassment when in reality the lessons learned from mistakes can provide more value than doing something the right way. The goal for any leader should be to create an environment where personnel within the organization are comfortable reporting mistakes and the lessons learned – this is easier said than done and necessitates a culture built upon the foundation of trust. A just culture is the last step in creating a learning organization and probably the hardest. Admitting mistakes is not easy, but it is necessary to complete the feedback loop and enhance an organization.


Every organization strives to become a learning institution. Learning institutions adapt to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with positive results. Learning institutions help mitigate entrenched culture and afford an organization the ability to continually grow from its mistakes. The development of a learning institution requires patience, communication, and continuous re-evaluation. In order to properly develop a learning institution one must first understand the foundation of entrenched culture and how it evolved in one’s organization, the necessary structures that must be in place to facilitate a learning institution, and the questions one must continually ask in order to ensure that an organization has become (or is on the path to becoming) a learning institution. This is not an all-inclusive how-to guide to developing a learning institution, but the thoughts expressed in this article should serve as a springboard for any leader looking at taking their organization in a positive direction.

End Notes

[i] Jack Welch. Winning (New York: Harper Collins 2005), 138.

[ii] Sidney Dekker. Drift Into Failure (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Company 2011), xii.

[iii] Ibid., 121.

[iv] Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable 2nd ed. (New York: Random House, 2010), 41.

[v] Adam Bryant. Quick And Nimble: Lessons From Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation (New York: Times Books), 16.

[vi] Ibid., 16.

[vii] Ibid., 16.

[viii] Ibid., 16.

[ix] John A. Nagl. Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory And Practice (New York: The Penguin Press 2014), 37.

[x] John A. Nagl. Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam (Chicago: Chicago Press 2005), 30.

[xi] Ibid., 10.

[xii] Ibid., 10.

[xiii] Ibid., 10.

[xiv] Ibid., 98.

[xv] Lara Stack. Execution is the Strategy: How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time (Can Francisco: Barret-Koehler 2014), 10.

[xvi] Adam Bryant. Quick And Nimble: Lessons From Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation (New York: Times Books), 110.

[xvii] Jeffrey K. Liker, Gary L. Convis. The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence Through Leadership Development (New York: McGraw-Hill 2012), 195.

[xviii] Jim Collins. Good to Great (New York:HarperCollins 2001), 125.

[xix] Ibid., 125

[xx] Tony Wagner. Creating Innovators (New York: Scribner 2012), 50.

[xxi] Sidney Dekker. Drift Into Failure (Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Company 2011), 175.

[xxii] This is the same question Nagl used with the exception of the word echelons.

[xxiii] This is exactly the same question as Nagl used.

[xxiv] This is exactly the same question Nagl used.

[xxv] This is the same question Nagl used –(changed out officers for leaders).

[xxvi] This is an additional question added by the author

[xxvii] This is an additional question added by the author

[xxviii] Jeffrey K. Liker, Gary L. Convis. The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence Through Leadership Development (New York: McGraw-Hill 2012), xxii.

[xxix] Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Anti-Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (New York: Random House 2012), 38.

[xxx] Jack Welch. Winning (New York: Harper Collins 2005), 66.

[xxxi] Ibid., 56.

[xxxii] Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Anti-Fragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (New York: Random House 2012), 192.

[xxxiii] Carl Honoré. The slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better (New York: HarperCollins 2013), 30.

[xxxiv] Ibid., 30.


About the Author(s)

James J. Torrence is an active duty US Army Signal Corps officer. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy. He has a Doctorate in Strategic Security and multiple graduate degrees including an M.S. in Strategic Design & Management, an M.S. in Cybersecurity, and a Master of Military Art & Science. He has deployed twice to Afghanistan as a battalion communications officer and has served in various military leadership positions in the United States, Germany, Belgium, Korea, and Israel. He is the author of Strongpoint Cyber Deterrence (SWJ Book Pocket Book, 2020).