Before Disruption….Thinking

“What you think, you become”

    – Buddha

“We are what we frequently do”

    – Aristotle

There has been a lively and still evolving debate in the milblogosphere regarding “disruptive thinkers”, starting with Benjamin Kohlman’s post at SWJ whose editor Peter J. Munson has done a fine job steering, collecting and commenting upon. A selection:

The Military Needs More Disruptive Thinkers by Benjamin Kohlman

Disruptive Thinking, Innovation, Whatever You Want to Call It is Needed for a Military in Crisis by Peter J. Munson 

USNI Blog (BJ Armstrong) Time to Think and listen  

Carl Prine – General Discontent

The focus on disruptive thinkers coincided with a different but relevant debate over professional military education (PME) when a scathing blast was recently  leveled at the US Army War College by Major General Robert Scales (ret.) , himself the former commandant and a strong advocate of rigorous PME.  A few of the criticisms made by General Scales at a gathering at FPRI were mentioned in a post by Thomas Ricks who believes in shutting down the service academies and war colleges and maybe just sending everyone to Yale, Princeton and Harvard for MBAs. Or something.


What was interesting to me is that many authors and their points had less to do with a close examination of cultivating cognitive skills than related topics of changing organizational culture, the perils of groupthink, rehashing ideas from Frans Johanssen’s The Medici Effect and John Kao’s Innovation Nation, the superiority of entrepreneurshiphidebound military bureaucracy and other tangents to indirectly create an environment in which insightful or innovative behavior might happen.  Only Mike Mazarr zeroed in to the heart of the matter, writing:

….We need to improve, for example, in the detail and specificity of critical and creative thinking methodologies that we integrate into the curriculum.



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