TOC for Admirals

Coincidentally, I was already pondering a post regarding this article when I was asked to help the Coast Guard Vice Commandant’s office with administrative workflow.

In my experience, admirals (and I assume other executives) are very comfortable at operating within MIT’s political and cultural lenses. Though they give much thought to strategy and wouldn’t accept it operationally, they often lack process-controlled systems to drive progress across the supporting activities.

Instead of managing a process that integrates all work, their staffs rely on personality to will efforts big and small through the wickets. As known by tech companies and stated by the author, “efficient staff processes can influence the success or failure of an organization.”

I can attest firefighting is instantly gratifying, but it always means one is focused on the here and now, not the future. It can build camaraderie, which is essential, but it does not move the organization toward its goals.

I went into the Vice Commandant’s office with the hypothesis that it is the admirals’ time to consume useful information which is the constraint to be managed. I now believe that it is their special assistants’, who are so swamped in task switching and defective deliverables that they had to bring me in to think about how the work should be done, time to produce it.

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