CSA: Podcast with WOTR
Includes a great discussion on professional discourse
In their wide ranging interview, General Randy George and Ryan Evans spent a few focused minutes on professionalism and professional discourse on the War on the Rocks podcast that dropped yesterday.
Below is my transcript of the part of their conversation on professional discourse, lightly edited for clarity. This section starts at 6:20 on the podcast for those who want to listen along.
Evans: How does the Army realize ambitious changes in self development and professional education when resources for that might be constrained or stagnant?
George: Well, some of this is not about resources. I’m going to give you an example. One of the things we just got started with the Harding Project is telling people to write more and share their lessons. We’re going to spend a little bit of money that make sure that we can read our journals like I read the Wall Street Journal. Its nice in the morning to read this outlet that has a good format, easy to read, is easy to follow, and easy to look things up.
I grew up reading a lot of our professional journals and I think that that’s important. So I think that those aren’t really big investments, but are really important to the profession. But strengthening the profession is one of the four focus areas that is the foundation for the other three. We must continue to invest in that.
Evans: I’m a big fan of the Harding Project, which probably won’t surprise you. I think encouraging soldiers to write at every level to write is tremendously important. And you’ve been out there talking a lot about it. Which is an important part of it. To hear it directly from the leader of the service, the service chief.
Imagine you are sitting here pitching this to a company commander. Specifically how that commander can empower his or her soldiers to write more and spend that time writing, especially in light of their other duties and responsibilities.
George: So obviously, always a struggle. But when I talk to leaders, I tell them two things. One is, its great if they can write about things. I joked with pre-command courses about this— ‘I look forward to seeing your article on this or that.’
But what’s equally important is that people are sharing across their formation, getting people together. One example I’ve been talking about recently is Walt Piatt, who just retired. I remember having a conversation with him about the things I didn’t do well, that I messed up, and I didn’t want him to go through. That’s important as well.
We’ve seen an increase just talking about it. We’ve got NCOs writing. I just met a major today, had him come in, who wrote an article about how leaders should ask better questions. We’ve got a lot of great ideas out there. Throughout history, a lot of the best ideas have come from the bottom up. We certainly want to hear what they are thinking.
Evans: Even if they disagree with the official line, as long as its done professionally, citing facts. That kind of stuff…
Evans: … is the difference between a stagnant force and a force that can actually win wars.
Listen to the whole podcast at War on the Rocks.