Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Parting Wisdom

Great advice. [Hat tip Thomas Barnett]

In one of his final interviews before his death last fall, Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski talked with analyst Daniel Forrester about what makes a transformational leader. The father of network-centric warfare offered some tough marching orders for leaders who want to make a difference - and a surprising way for them to measure their success....
* Be bold. "Don't try to do it unless it looks impossible. You have to pick up the things that look really hard. Other people will have done everything else."
* Be fast. "No transformational leader ever looks back and regrets moving too fast."
* Be specific. "If you lack specificity, your subordinates will be able to change your message to suit their own purposes."


Also unconventional is Cebrowski's measure of success: a new language. "Network-centric warfare," "self-synchronization" and the many terms that he and others coined to describe the future tactics of the American military were adopted both inside and outside the department. "Language conveys culture," Cebrowski said. "In order to change the culture, you must change language. You cannot expect old language to carry new ideas." Cebrowski said transformational leaders know they're successful when people start using their language - especially the people who are opposed to their ideas.

"His advice to other change agents around inventing new language is a lasting legacy, and the language he invented itself will last until it fades to conventional wisdom," Forrester said.

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