Stop admiring problems and do something about it

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BLUF – Instead of waiting for an answer, choose to define the answer.

Recently I posted my idea of a notional cyber squadron to the 17D Officer FaceBook page.  My idea borrows from several on-going (competing?) initiatives such as Cyber Squadron Initiative and Enterprise IT as a Service to transform traditional base-level Communications Squadrons (where I’ve spent the majority of my career) to Cyber Squadrons, which is supposed to defend and drive mission assurance in and through the cyberspace domain. Here’s the picture:


Nothing like a little bit of crowdsourcing and peer review to see if your ideas are on track or in left field, right? The immediate discussion from a simple picture was fantastic, at least from my original intent to garner feedback on my idea. Here are some of the comments:

  • Great start! Time to figure how to make it a reality versus a PowerPoint…keep pushing!
  • Great representation! This is the first time I’ve seen anything for CS-I OPCON structure. 
  • Just for fun, which group would the CS fall under in your notional C2 diagram? Or is this a future with no group CCs…which, last I heard, is being tested at a few bases.
  • Awesome, this makes more sense than any of the other “products” I’ve seen on the subject. 

For the last 3 years, I’ve been employing the same strategy to drive transformation in my functional area: summarize all of the complicated ideas of the future into simple pictures discussing the present. As usual in a military construct, multiple levels of staff are charged with determining policies and concepts to meet senior leadership intent. These policies and concepts are staffed throughout the enterprise, yet they honestly do not hit everyone for the sake of time. Instead of just accepting the top down approach and providing my input via a comment matrix, I took the time time digest all of the information and present my own interpretation from the bottom up. By no means do I think my version is better or will immediately solve world hunger, but there are benefits to this strategy. Here are two things I’ve learned:

  1. Be the first to turn in your homework – In a world full of people just admiring the problem, be first to offer up a solution. Even if your attempt is off the mark, being able to rally the crowd to focus on a singular idea will reveal some of the critical areas that encompasses the overarching problem. The corrections applied to your attempt will still be captured in YOUR attempt, which will only make your recommendation stronger because you are gathering inputs towards a singular solution.
  2. Understand the perspective of the author – Each architect of a solution inherently preserves the equities of side the solution originates from. In this instance, potential solutions have been presented from the Air Staff/Strategic level of the force. It was very difficult for me to quickly see where a base level squadron fit into the solution, and even more to determine what I could take action on right now to ensure alignment with the vision. Instead of waiting to be represented, I choose to define the solution from the perspective of a base level unit that chooses to balance the challenges of reality and future solutions on a daily basis.

Instead of waiting for the answer, choose to define the answer.

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