31/8/2018

Team of teams / maps to whiteboards

From John Pearson:

Terrifying…because Gen. McChrystal’s war on Al Qaeda (AQI) was unlike any the U.S. military had fought before. Any! He writes, When we first established our Task Force headquarters at Balad [in Iraq], we hung maps on almost every wall. Maps are sacred to a soldier. In military headquarters, maps are mounted and maintained with almost religious reverence. A well-marked map can, at a glance, reveal the current friendly and enemy situations, as well as the plan of future operations. Orders can be conveyed using a marked map and a few terse words.”

But to out-think and out-gun Al Qaeda, everything had to change. For most of history, war was about terrain, territory held, and geographic goals, and a map was the quintessential tool for seeing the problem and creating solutions,” the general notes. But the maps in Balad could not depict a battlefield in which the enemy could be uploading video to an audience of millions from any house in any neighborhood, or driving a bomb around in any car on any street.”

Then… (and here’s my favorite metaphor for all organizations that must move from complicated to complex”): In place of maps, whiteboards began to appear in our headquarters. Soon they were everywhere. Standing around them, markers in hand, we thought out loud, diagramming what we knew, what we suspected, and what we did not know. We covered the bright white surfaces with multi-colored words and drawings, erased, and then covered again. We did not draw static geographical features; we drew mutable relationships—the connections between things rather than the things themselves.”


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