Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): To achieve added value during strategic planning, especially in an industry that requires an adaptive strategy, leadership should always consider insight from the bottom up.
Advances in weapon technology are continuous throughout the world. Naval leaders are challenged to adapt to new threats presented by enemy countries and quickly design, test, and install better suited weapons systems on warships. Their strategy must be adaptive and they must be ready to constantly refine goals and tactics. The threats are unpredictable, but we do have the ability to shape the battlespace by continually improving our weapons systems and creating new and unique warfare tactics. The strategic planning process to equip ships with systems capable of defending against advanced enemy weapons is often unexpected and requires reassessing our current strategy quickly.
Weapon system upgrades are a result of change of strategy by top military leaders and government contractors with little input from the final user. These leaders are often out of touch with every capability and limitation of today’s warships. As mentioned in “The Real Value of Strategic Planning”, key decision makers need to understand the business (in this case the most advanced warships in the world) before they can make sound decisions that come at a huge cost to the Department of Defense. Since enemy countries are constantly creating new threats, using insight from everyday operators prior to strategic planning can add great value. The following paragraph puts why this is important in a nutshell.
Warship’s have multiple weapons systems throughout the ship designed by different contractors. When a new system is designed it is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood how it fits in with the entire weapons suite and this can cause delays in installation and testing. The operators on the ship understand the weapons system as whole rather than individual parts. In other words, when the Navy is looking to upgrade a ships weapons capability to counter a new threat, strategically it would make sense to include the everyday operator in the discussion because of their knowledge of the entire system. For example, a young Navy technician that has served on the same class ship for 10 years and spends 9 or 10 months on deployment and thousands of hours standing a combat watch understands the limitations and capabilities of the weapons system better than anyone else. They understand what is needed to add value to the weapons suite and obstacles that will hinder the quick installation of a new system.