An Industrial Age model continues to shape the way the Army approaches its recruiting, personnel management, training, and education. This outdated personnel management paradigm―designed for an earlier era―has been so intimately tied to the maintenance of Army culture that a self-perpetuating cycle has formed, diminishing the Army’s attempts to develop adaptive leaders and institutions.
This cycle can be broken only if the Army accepts rapid evolutionary change as the norm of the new era. Recruiting the right people, then having them step into an antiquated organization, means that many of them will not stay as they find their ability to contribute and develop limited by a centralized, hierarchical organization. Recruiting and retention data bear this out.
Several factors have combined to force the Army to think about the way it develops and nurtures its leaders. Yet, Vandergriff maintains, mere modifications to today’s paradigm may not be enough. Today’s Army has to do more than post rhetoric about adaptability on briefing slides and in literature. One cannot divorce the way the Army accesses, promotes, and selects its leaders from its leadership-development model. The Army cannot expect to maintain leaders who grasp and practice adaptability if these officers encounter an organization that is neither adaptive nor innovative. Instead, Army culture must become adaptive, and the personnel system must evolve into one that nurtures adaptability in its policies, practices, and beliefs. Only a detailed, comprehensive plan where nothing is sacred will pave the way to cultural evolution.