At Least Someone Said It

My Twitter bandwidth is *this* big

My Twitter bandwidth is *this* big

ADM Mullen, CINCTweet himself, spoke recently about our ability to strategically communicate our goals. It’s created quite the buzz on teh interwebs, with folks like the good CDR becoming slightly miffed at the implied “We suck”-ness of the article. Problem is, this AP article is crap. Here’s the lead-in paragraph.

The U.S. military is bungling its outreach to the Muslim world and squandering good will by failing to live up to its promises, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer wrote Friday.

Thank you, for completely missing the point of the Chairman’s article. Go HERE if you’d like to read the full article, and not some two-bit hack job of selective quoting passed off as journalism.

Now, I’m not saying folks aren’t right to be a bit pissed. After all, the examples used do lend themselves to a little “We suck” interpretation that seems prevalent in today’s administration. BUT, if you read the entire article, you’ll find that the comments about Muslim outreach are merely examples for the larger problem being addressed, which is the disconnect between what we say and what we do.

It is time for us to take a harder look at “strategic communication.”
Frankly, I don’t care for the term. We get too hung up on that word, strategic. If we’ve learned nothing else these past 8 years, it should be that the lines between strategic, operational, and tactical are blurred beyond distinction. This is particularly true in the world of communication, where videos and images plastered on the Web—or even the idea of their being so posted—can and often do drive national security decisionmaking.

But beyond the term itself, I believe we have walked away from the original intent. By organizing to it—creating whole structures around it—we have allowed strategic communication to become a thing instead of a process, an abstract thought instead of a way of thinking. It is now sadly something of a cottage industry.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. We have (in typical Pentagon fashion) allowed ourselves to become over-enamored with the trendy term of the week. In this case “Strategic Communications.” What exactly *does* that mean? If you ask me, it should me communications in support of our strategy. Unfortunately, and I think the Chairman and I agree on this, it now means communication of our strategy; oftentimes to the detriment of the actual execution of said strategy.

But, there’s a group of O-6s somewhere in the D and C rings of the Pentagon feverishly working on their Legions of Merit, so the problems will stay until we all get on the same page.

And that page better be the play, not the table of contents.

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2 Responses to At Least Someone Said It

  1. Niall says:

    “If you ask me, it should me communications in support of our strategy. Unfortunately, and I think the Chairman and I agree on this, it now means communication of our strategy; oftentimes to the detriment of the actual execution of said strategy. ”

    That’s a very insightful distinction. One of the keys to strategic communication is differentiating how you communicate to those inside your organization, and how you communicate to those outside your organization. The communication of strategy must itself be done strategically. The two audiences are quite different, as are the consequences of failure in both cases. Those inside your organization are tasked with carrying out your strategy, which they can’t do if they don’t understand it. Those outside your organization are not tasked with anything. You just hope they accept the results of your action, and can anticipate what those results will be.

    This is a classic problem in the corporate world. Interesting to see it’s a military problem as well.

  2. Matt says:

    Amen.
    We love our catch phrases in the military. This has become more lip service recently. Everybody has to have a strategic comms plan/office/department. I agree with you, we need to get back to the message and quit trying to over analyze things. Strat comms is truly important in today’s instant information society. Keep preaching, brother…love the sub. 🙂

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