How the Armed Forces Actualize Management Excellence

The Reason why the Military Pioneers Innovations

It has often been said that the Military and the Armed Forces in the developed West pioneered many technological and managerial innovations that subsequently helped the corporate sector in those countries. For instance, the Internet was initially a Department of Defense project in the United States that was then adopted by the commercial sector leading to its phenomenal growth and widespread usage.

If we go back a bit, the Ball Point Pen, the Personal Computer, and many other such innovations were first Military projects that were then released to the public. What this means is that the experiments conducted by the Military and the Armed Forces and the research that they undertake often lead to technological and managerial innovations which prove to be quite beneficial to the corporate sector and then the public at large. This is mainly because the Military and the Department of Defense in the United States has at its disposal an army of experts (literally and metaphorically) as well as having humungous budgets that often lead to cutting edge research done by them. Indeed, many technological and managerial innovations arise from the Armed forces because of these reasons.

Managerial Innovations

Turning to the managerial excellence, the Armed Forces were the first institution in the West to adopt the principles of Scientific Management as espoused by Frederick Taylor. Apart from this, the Armed Forces were the first institution to actualize the top down managerial style that has become the norm in almost all corporate companies.

Further, the Military was the first institution to adopt Mintzberg’s strategic pyramids, which was then followed by the corporate sector. Moreover, the supply chain management practices and the logistics practices of the Military were then similarly followed by the corporate sector leading to efficiencies and synergies in the organizational processes. The point here is that the Military and the Department of Defense in the US usually initiates projects in the managerial sphere because the institution of the Military has to be run according to the best available managerial model, as they cannot afford to make mistakes since human lives are involved. The aspect of national security means that the Military has to be on the ball and not drop it. This has led to successive Defense secretaries starting with Robert McNamara who came to the Department of Defense from the Ford Motor Company and transformed the way the Military works.

Some Recent Best Practices

In recent years, the best practices that have come out of the military include the adoption of business continuity planning and disaster recovery. For instance, the fact that the Armed Forces had to be ready to continue operations even when disaster (manmade or natural) strikes meant that Defense Secretaries like Donald Rumsfeld adopted Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery starting from the 1990s and which were then adopted by the corporate sector. Apart from this, the Armed Forces were also the first to institute the practice of outsourcing of noncore activities thereby actualizing cost savings. Indeed, the concept of a lean and mean fighting machine that the Armed Forces wanted themselves to be resulted in the profusion of Defense Contractors who would take care of all aspects except the actual fighting. Even this function was outsourced to private security companies in some conflict zones. Indeed, the kind of outsourcing of the regular functions that the Military followed meant that the corporate sector would soon adopt such best practices. This was a win-win situation for the military and the corporate sector as the former saved money that could be spent on the troops whereas the latter benefited from lucrative contracts given by the former.


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