This is an adaptation of some words I gave at the retirement ceremony of one of my favorite leaders, Chief Master Sergeant Jen Larson. I met Chief Larson at a pretty difficult point in my career. I was fighting an Air Force assignment so I could stay with my family for the end of my … Continue reading CMSgt Larson
Imagine you’ve ventured deep into a mountainous landscape. Picture that in every direction are miles and miles of hills and mountains, varying in elevation from tiny hillocks to majestic alps... Now imagine that your goal is to find the highest peak possible... but visibility is extremely poor. It’s so foggy, you can’t see what’s beyond … Continue reading The Art of Wandering Downhill
In 2007, I was attending the Defense Language Institute’s Mandarin Chinese Basic Course. I was several months in and had a 3.8 GPA, second only in my class to my friend and fellow Airman James Fisher. I won’t say my academic success was because I tried harder than my classmates. I absolutely didn’t. I just … Continue reading It’s Personal
I wish that I could ignore it, but anti-preparedness messaging about COVID-19 that suggests we shouldn't practice social distancing or cancel large gatherings during this pandemic has been bothering me a lot. The impression that I get from people pushing this content is that they have bought into an ideologically aligned narrative and are excited … Continue reading COVID-19: Who Exactly Are You Fighting For?
A culture is not a product. It is the emergent outcome of behaviors and attitudes, driven by underlying values and the processes, structures, systems, and habits that inform and are informed by them. Culture pivots on an axis of norms. It is a fickle, complex system- a climate that churns and is churned by sub-climates … Continue reading A few of the things that culture perhaps is and is not, at times.
I don't produce content just for content's sake. I have the luxury of writing only when I have something to say. For that reason, I wasn't planning on doing a themed end-of-year or decade blog post. But seeing all of these splendid retrospectives at the close of 2019 and the preceding decade got me wondering … Continue reading A Retrospective
Whenever we talk about innovation in the Air Force, we inevitably end up stumbling upon that familiar old trope of "The Frozen Middle", which approximately describes the theory of "middle-status conformity", in which those mid-tier leaders with enough power to enable or impede innovation for the majority are incentivized to remain risk-averse by their long-earned … Continue reading Agitate: On Being the Unfrozen Middle
*Warning: Some of the following may contain hyperbole. My wife was once told in an OPSEC (operational security) briefing for military spouses that every day, she should alter her route to work or taking the kids to school... to thwart adversary attempts to establish a pattern of life on her. That's right. My wife. A … Continue reading OPSEC is Bad (rant)
I have a theory that service-members of my generation and later are less likely to accept the premise that their military identity is an exclusive one. Many of my enlisted and commissioned peers consider themselves to be equally members of other tribes and communities--not just as a matter of personal perspective, but as a fact easily … Continue reading A Little Tribal Overlap
It is remarkable how the highest levels of an organization can buy into and proudly preach a new gospel of leadership and advocate a culture of innovation, yet it doesn't do anything to change the ingrained habits of norm-enforcement at the level of execution.