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Stifled Innovation? Developing Tomorrow's Leaders Today

Authored by Dr. Leonard Wong. | April 2002

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This monograph examines the current company commander experience and concludes that the Army values innovation in its rhetoric, but the reality is that junior officers are seldom given opportunities to be innovative in planning training; to make decisions; or to fail, learn, and try again. This controlling, centralized environment results from three main factors. First, higher echelons increasingly are directing training requirements, taking away the discretion of company commanders to plan their own training. Second, higher headquarters increasingly are dictating how training should be conducted, taking away the initiative of company commanders when executing training. Finally, senior commanders increasingly are disrupting training with administrative requirements and taskings, taking away the predictability of company command.

If the transformed Army will require leaders who can operate independently in the absence of close supervision, the current leader development experience of company command will have to change. Consequently, the author asks for senior leaders not to do more, but to do less and thus give subordinates more freedom to innovate.