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Transformation Begins With Leadership
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2004 – It is no longer enough to be a good manager focusing on efficiency and "optimization," DoD's director of force transformation said here today.

"It is more important to be a good manager and a transformational leader," Arthur K. Cebrowski said at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Defense 2004 conference.

"The role of good management, of the transformational leader, is to look at and identify perfectly predictable surprises and act in advance," Cebrowski told those assembled. "The responsibilities of transformational leaders are to identify disparities before they take place and stop wasting time with optimizations and efficiencies that will be irrelevant in the face of policy changes."

The retired admiral said while "it's nice to be upbeat and point to the future," it is also necessary to look at the barriers. He cited four – process, physical, fiscal and cultural.

Physical barriers include moving things as well as information. Currently, he said, more progress is being made in the information domain. But because of the need for both, Cebrowski said it is necessary to attack the processes that are preventing progress.

The director said fiscal barriers, particularly those pertaining to the notion of balance between discretionary and non-discretionary areas, are a "primary calling for leadership."

"One of the great rules for transformation," he said, "is if you want to transform go where the money is and on arrival, change the rules. That's what we have to do.

"To the extent that we fail to expand the discretionary areas of the budget is the measure of where we need to expand our courage, because that's what it takes to deal with it," he added.

Leaders must be willing to "devalue" things, said Cebrowski. He cited an example from World War II. After the war, he pointed out, the U.S. Navy realized it was in "serious trouble. Their effectiveness was largely based on the ability to mass the fleet and conduct amphibious assault. In the face of nuclear weapons, it was realized this was folly. What was the Navy to do?"

As it turned out, he added, the Navy decided that nuclear weapons were to have and not to use and that they were in the hands of "fairly responsible people, so it wasn't really a problem."

Now there is a proliferation problem and nuclear weapons are "not necessarily in the hands of responsible people," said Cebrowski.

"So the same issue that was pushed aside in 1945 is back on the table," he said. "When something like this happens, it calls into question your way of doing business and tells you that some things will have to be devalued."

First and foremost, cultural change is a leadership issue, said the transformation chief. "Culture is what leaders believe and how leaders behave."