To Design or Not to Design (Part Five)

To Design or Not to Design (Part Five):

Doctrine and Design: How Analogies and Design Theory Resist the Military Ritual of Codification

by Ben Zweibelson

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The invention of writing made standardization and conceptual control of information both possible and necessary as human civilizations passed experiences and values from one generation to the next. "Writing makes possible the codification and systemization of assertion, and hence the birth of doctrine." Doctrine originally fused religious ritual with the exclusivity and power of literacy. The educated minority subsequently created effective models for controlling human action, and through both access and knowledge of codified information, limit how the majority could deviate from them. "Ritual...does not succumb to rational argument, erected in favor of political or economic expedients. Religious ritual blunts rational objections in exactly this way." Ontological synthesis of doctrine for this article aims towards the scientific and historical aspects of the doctrinal process instead of ideological values.

Download The Full Article: To Design or Not Design (Part Five)

Major Ben Zweibelson is an active duty Infantry Officer in the US Army. A veteran of OIF 1 and OIF 6, Ben is currently attending the School for Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has a Masters in Liberal Arts from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences from the United States Air Force (Air Command and Staff College program). Ben deploys this June to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as a planner.

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Not to disparage anyone, but I hate the stereotypical "dumb maneuver" guy moniker. I look back on our great "maneuver" leaders over the centures and I don't think they were that dumb.

I am a maneuver guy as well and I've heard my peers brag that they haven't read a book in years, that they just want to do tactical stuff- let the others do staff work and read and write, and that if the Army wanted them to get a masters degree they'd send them to get one.

With those kinds of attitudes, announcements that we are learning organizations are laughable in my opinion.

I really hesitate to offer more than what Ben and Chris have already offered- those are great texts to get into the philosophy behind where rational decision making processes came from.

As I understand it they come from post-WWII and industrial age planning techniques. It almost (or did) went hand in hand with the growth of metrics, the whiz kids of McNamara, and the like. A fervent belief in the wisdom of engineered solutions, math formulas, and backwards planning. Linear logic. A worship and trust of all things technological. A distrust of humans.

Wisdom is the quality of thought that is animated by a dialectic in which the more one knows, the more one realizes the extent of what one does not know.

--Karl E. Weick, Making Sense of the Organization: The Impermanent Organization, Volume 2, West Sussex, UK: Wiley, 2009, p. 19.

Charles- I'm a dumb maneuver guy as well. The best part (for me ) about Design as a way of thinking is the requirement for us to question things, to think about how we think- and to learn. Each of these books and articles that Chris, Grant, and others recommend are like stepping stones into an ocean of untapped learning for anyone...and there is no finish line or end-state. That probably sounds really philosophical and "chin stroking"- but I find that thinking about how I think makes me better at doing the critical tasks of MDMP, and understanding how to do it better (or why it doesnt work sometimes).

Ben

I'm afraid some of this may be over my head - I'm just a dumb maneuver guy. But I do find this stuff fascinating. Looking at why we do what we do and why we do it the way we do it is insightful. It removes the automaticity and forces me to really ask some important questions.

In regards to the topic of a military detailed planning (MDMP) philosophy for warfare- here are some additional sources you might find interesting.

Bousquet, Antoine. The Scientific Way of Warfare; Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009. Author explains how science developed a form of logic that the military converted into detailed planning such as MDMP; the mechanistic age of warfare with Jomini led to later periods with Clausewitz and uncertainty in warfare... what was once as mechanical as moving chess pieces became chaotic, like fuel explosions within a combustion engine under stress...

Builder, Carl H. The Masks of War; American Military Styles in Strategy and Analysis. RAND Corporation: John Hopkins University Press, 1989. Author explains how each military service (Navy, Air Force, and Army- no USMC because Builder lumps them under the Navy) has their own distinct culture and bias towards accomplishing national strategic goals in conflict. Builders work helps frame why the military gravitates towards certain procedures (MDMP) and resists letting go or changing them too much.

Jullien, Francois. Translated by Lloyd, Janet. A Treatise on Efficacy Between Western and Chinese Thinking. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996. Julien makes some critical distinctions between western and eastern logics towards war and warfare. Seeing how we approach warfare from outside the western lens makes the "philosophy of MDMP" come into view. Julien aids military thinkers with "metacognition"- thinking about how we think. I think that is the first step required here.

Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. To consider whether MDMP as a military "philosophy" is something that may change some day (does Design replace it... or something else?) one should read Kuhns thesis on new knowledge production in the form of 'paradigm shifts. This logic frames the argument on whether detailed planning and Design are points along the path of human enlightenment.

Linn, Brian. M. The Echo of Battle; The Armys Way of War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007. Linn explains how the military, during peacetime between conflicts, continues to resist certain concepts and holds onto various 'themes that reinvent themselves after each new conflict- with the promise that they know what the military should do to prepare for the next war... by winning the last war. Again, this author supports the argument that military philosophies such as detailed planning logic (MDMP, JOPP, MCPP, etc) continue to adapt despite conflict abnormalities that occur in execution.

Naveh, Shimon. Schneider, Jim. Challans, Timothy. The Structure of Operational Revolution; A Prolegomena. Booz, Allen, Hamilton, 2009. You may need to contact Booz Allen (a consulting firm for military applications) to get a copy of this short book. Naveh criticizes the detailed planning-centric nature of military thinking and planning; Naveh of course is a major proponent of Design logic.

Weigley, Russell F. The American Way of War. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1973. An older book, but Weigley explains how our military thinks and acts in accordance with established tenets, cultural considerations, and an American "philosophy" of warfare that explains how we approach conflicts today.

Qiao Liang, Wang Xiangsui, Unrestricted Warfare (Beijing: Peoples Liberation Army Literature and Arts Publishing House, February 1999). Available online and only a few hundred pages- their criticism of American military thinking frames the East-West tension in logic for approaching conflicts. This read is especially relevant when considering the 21st century and where we may go after OEF/OIF...

Just some sources you may find interesting.

Ben

Thanks to Chris Paparone...I'll look for these references.

I studied this mateial in a cursory manner during my college days - but have never really looked at the application or how it may have been applied to military decision making processes - at least not in the detail that others here have, that's for sure.

Good stuff. Thanks to all.

p.s. Charles, if you have access to university online journals or to a university library, take a look at this very interesting article that relates to your inquiry:

Mark R. Rutgers, "Be rational! But what does it mean? A history of the idea of rationality and its relation to management thought," Journal of Management History, Vol. 5 No. 1, 1999, pp. 17-35.

Charles, I'll take a stab at your question.

Philosophically, I think "realism" is the answer to your question.

I believe early 20th century sociologist, Max Weber, was one of the first to describe "zweckrationalitat" (ends-based rationality) as a sociological concept (or as he says, an "ideal type").

Later, in the 40s and 50s, Herbert A. Simon wrote about how people and organizaitons were very limited in their ability to be rational (yet were culturally unaware of this and marched on as if they could be). He spoke of "satificing" (i.e. "good enough for government work" in our lingo) and won the Nobel Prize for his work.

My favorite contemporary writers who debunk beliefs in strictly rational forms of planning are Henry Mintzberg (his treatise, "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning" is a must read) and James G. March ("Primer for Decision Making: How Decisions Happen" among his many other writings).

Back to philosophy, I think there is a shift that we may be in the "middle" of -- from realism to critical realism. This shift is represented by two artifacts of these philosophical positions -- MDMP and Design, respectively.

For Grant Martin....I forgot to ask, you mentioned the philosophy etc that serves as the foundation for MDMP. Can you recommend a reference(s) for me to survey? I'd like to learn more about this.

Thanks.

On merging Design with MDMP-style doctrine:

1. If...detailed planning logic (To Design or Not to Design argues that this logic uses central themes of reductionism, positivism, linear causality, and a tactical vocabulary to build procedures for repetition and uniformity) creates narratives that support that method of thinking about the world. Detailed planning doctrine does that. And, it works for many military operational needs- the successful OBL raid demonstrates what probably was a textbook SOF raid. Since we always will need our military do do these sorts of things, detailed planning logic will remain in some form in the future with MDMP-style doctrine.

2. Design is better suited at addressing what happens after a raid takes down OBL. "What now?" "What will happen?" "How will the world react- both short term and long term?" What does this mean? -These sorts of questions do seem philosophical because they are not suited for detailed planning logic...OBL's death will not mark the end of a conflict the way the death of Hitler essentially did for Germany in WWII (weirdly, the German government announced Hitler was dead on May 1, 1945...) Design logic moves in holistic approaches to complexity; Design uses persistent creativity and destruction- with concepts, vocabulary, metaphors, and narratives. Design "doctrine" should NOT be twisted into MDMP-style procedures and sprinkled into Army doctrine in chapters and introductions. That is currently how the military is approaching Design theory- we are "salami slicing" it up and placing it into our doctrine. "Integrated planning" implies some sort of synergy where Design and detailed planning have some sort of equality in content, form, and purpose. Does that happen in practice? In my limited experience, Design gets about 30 minutes at the start of any planning process, and the remainder of a 5 or 8 day exercise focuses exclusively on detailed planning and the procedures associated with it.

3. If Design and detailed planning logic and doctrine ought to be combined- then how do you see future Design doctrine? In what form- what will it look like, and how will the military let it grow and function? Design is about learning and innovation- you cannot publish FM 5-0 every five to eight years and expect it to keep up with Design innovation and adaptation....

bz

Grant Martin...Great comments and I've taken notes to study this further.

Apparently the humor was lost on me - I am not always that perceptive I guess.

I see the military as a pragmatic organization. Not sure it could be any other way. Debating the philosophical merits of one way of doing business over another serves as a distraction - in my opinion. It's part of what has driven a wedge between the individuals and the institution. We need to do what works. Naturally we have some structure that we work within. Part of that structure is the MDMP. But, I've seen some excellent officers work through the MDMP creatively and critically. That's why I say that adopting a lazy approach, using canned formulas, approaches, and thinking is naturally going to bring you a canned (rational) result.

So, my issue is not with MDMP or Design - it's with the people employing them. They are tools and produce results on par with the talent using them.

As for Design not prescribing one way of doing things - well, taken to its conclusion, such a system is disastrous for a military. However, taken in proper context, it belies one of the fundamentals of maneuver warfare: the fight you have on Friday is not the same as the one you fought on Tuesday, and to adopt the same repetitive process, approach, and tactics is begging for disaster. In that light, I see Design as a great introduction into our way of doing business.

About merging Design and MDMP and it being a terrible idea....well, doctrine is what we do and not how we do it, so I think it's about how we merge those two and how we use them. That leads me to some optimism as we can work on that piece.

I would respectfully argue that you are lost in the minutiae regarding the philosophy and the aptitude of the officer corps....I just heard that Bin Laden is now dead. So, sorry that I'm distracted so my comments may not make sense.

The bottom line for me is that Design and MDMP have good elements and that it's about the talent of those using those tools, not philosophical underpinnings. I'm not saying any ole system will do, but I just don't think we should rush to disparage MDMP, or aptitude so much. I have many "issues" and complaints with what we do in the military. But, I think we have some good things that we can leverage to our advantage. I believe MDMP and the emergence of Design will add to that.

Thanks again for the comments, I'll be sure to research this further.

Grant Martin...Great comments and I've taken notes to study this further.

Apparently the humor was lost on me - I am not always that perceptive I guess.

I see the military as a pragmatic organization. Not sure it could be any other way. Debating the philosophical merits of one way of doing business over another serves as a distraction - in my opinion. It's part of what has driven a wedge between the individuals and the institution. We need to do what works. Naturally we have some structure that we work within. Part of that structure is the MDMP. But, I've seen some excellent officers work through the MDMP creatively and critically. That's why I say that adopting a lazy approach, using canned formulas, approaches, and thinking is naturally going to bring you a canned (rational) result.

So, my issue is not with MDMP or Design - it's with the people employing them. They are tools and produce results on par with the talent using them.

As for Design not prescribing one way of doing things - well, taken to its conclusion, such a system is disastrous for a military. However, taken in proper context, it belies one of the fundamentals of maneuver warfare: the fight you have on Friday is not the same as the one you fought on Tuesday, and to adopt the same repetitive process, approach, and tactics is begging for disaster. In that light, I see Design as a great introduction into our way of doing business.

About merging Design and MDMP and it being a terrible idea....well, doctrine is what we do and not how we do it, so I think it's about how we merge those two and how we use them. That leads me to some optimism as we can work on that piece.

I would respectfully argue that you are lost in the minutiae regarding the philosophy and the aptitude of the officer corps....I just heard that Bin Laden is now dead. So, sorry that I'm distracted so my comments may not make sense.

The bottom line for me is that Design and MDMP have good elements and that it's about the talent of those using those tools, not philosophical underpinnings. I'm not saying any ole system will do, but I just don't think we should rush to disparage MDMP, or aptitude so much. I have many "issues" and complaints with what we do in the military. But, I think we have some good things that we can leverage to our advantage. I believe MDMP and the emergence of Design will add to that.

Thanks again for the comments, I'll be sure to research this further.

Charles- I think Chris was being a little tongue-in-cheek. Of course we'd like to have "the Army" interested in philosophy and wisdom. He and many others think that the culture doesn't jive with it. But- he and many others, I think, would argue that without it one day we will be irrelevant. "Seize a hill" or "interdict a supply line" isn't what we struggle with; "establish peace", "create stability where there's never been stability", and "build good governance and economic development" don't lend themselves well to MDMP or any other rational decision making process.

As far as Design being a new paradigm- agree, but only because of the way the Army has taken it on. The foundational literature demands a constant questioning of paradigms- in other words there is no "one way of doing things" a la a "paradigm".

In the end I suspect we'll take some of the better points from Design and inject them into the MDMP process to make a good thing even better - so long as we couple that with the dedication and discipline to use the process.

I think you're right about us doing that- and I think that is a terrible idea. The philosophy behind Design is 180 degrees out from the philosophy behind MDMP- and yes, MDMP has a philosophy behind it. Not understanding what MDMP was created for, its philosophical underpinnings, and what its best used for is a terrible sign of the intellectual aptitude of our officer corps and probably explains why we are "lazy" when we do MDMP.

I would differ about the utility of the MDMP process. I think it can used for complex situations. I believe it's the way we go through the process that makes it unfriendly toward more complex problems.

The MDMP "process"- a rational decision making process- wasn't concocted for complex situations. Some would argue our military wasn't either, but in a world growing more interconnected (and thus complex), our objectives become less defined and harder to understand, much less measure and plan to reach. Other disciplines are moving- or have already moved- away from rational decision making processes- or at the very least noted the weaknesses inherent in them and taken those into account. We continue to use RDMPs as doctrine.

The bottom line is that we can remain wedded to a flawed philosophy about how the world runs and is influenced for now because we enjoy no peer competitor and we can afford to lose- both because we can spin our losses to look like wins or draws due to the nature of complexity (very difficult to draw logical conclusions) and because our way of life isn't threatened (yet). But we remain blissfully ignorant in our own comfort zones living off of the wealth of past generations' sacrifices and intellectual strength.

As for nesting, it can be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstances. Probably deserves it's own topic/article.

Design argues fundamentally that higher's intent and orders (so paramount in MDMP and JOPP) are based on faulty assumptions and should be actively questioned and encouraged to be questioned. "Nesting" assumes the opposite.

Mr. Paparone,
Yes, individual officers have a love for knowledge, but the institution is not receptive to that type of dialog.

I would differ about the utility of the MDMP process. I think it can used for complex situations. I believe it's the way we go through the process that makes it unfriendly toward more complex problems.

As for nesting, it can be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstances. Probably deserves it's own topic/article.

You are dead on about TRADOC - but I don't really know what that says about GEN Dempsey. Hopefully it's not a bad indicator.

Charles,

I am much more pessimistic than you about the potential for benefits of design.

All that "philosophy" means is having a love for wisdom. Although I would hope that such a view would have a role for the institution, maybe you're right in that "it's not a good fit." I believe individual officers may have such a love, but the institution (that is based in the "ideology of analyses") does not.

Indeed, MDMP is a nice, analytic (breaking-it-down) tool and may work well when faced with situations that can be reduced into isolatable, categorical problems. I wish the situations our military faces were more cooperative.

I think Robert C. Jones is right about nesting. Nesting is a euphemism for hierarchical control. It's not that the institution doesn't adapt (i.e. deviate). It's how it adapts -- as directed from "higher."

While General Dempsey seems to seek wisdom to change the institution, his last organization (US Army TRADOC) remains all-but-immovable. This demonstrates that organizational culture (a.k.a. institutionalized values) tends to "eat deviant leadership for lunch."

Again, I am quite pessimistic.

I think this whole Design thing is going to end up leading to some beneficial changes in the way doctrine is written, the way planning is done, and how we attack our problems and missions.

However, not as it currently stands. It's way too complex and just too much in the development stage.

As for getting away from paradigmatic thinking, Design is merely going to usher in a new paradigm. Then people will say we need to get away from "that" paradigm. It's a never ending circle.

This leads me to the role of philosophy in the military. It's not a good fit. And, we have too many officers that want to get philosophical too often. Not good for communication, whether you're talking to young officers, NCOs, junior enlisted or even BN and BDE Cdrs. Debating about whether or not the "chair is blue" and "what exactly is blue" does not lend itself well to "go seize that hill" or "interdict enemy materiel resupply movements".

Finally, in my humble opinion, what we need is for people to stop being lazy when they go through MDMP. I think MDMP is an excellent process. It can be very productive - if it's used.

In the end I suspect we'll take some of the better points from Design and inject them into the MDMP process to make a good thing even better - so long as we couple that with the dedication and discipline to use the process.

Can't remember who said it but "design is not about solving problems, it is about pursuing opportunities"

"Nesting" with higher is perhaps even more disruptive than an over application of doctrine to the design process.

In planning, one must nest their products clearly with higher. In design one must quite purposely NOT do that. Recognize higher's work, and then point out where you agree or disagree along with your own findings based upon your own journey. I am working with my old team back at SOCOM as they update the design-based Strategic Appreciation product that command produces. A lot of great work in it, but I think they paid too much respect to the concepts (and mental constraints) laid down by higher.

Design is all about getting outside the box. To nest is to be inside the box. Just an observation and opinion.

Bob

Here here for bricoleurs!

By George I think we've got it!

woo hoo

The "mixed methods" process sounds like Organizational Theory and the term 'bricolage.'

This process of knowledge production, defined as "bricolage" in organizational theory circles, turns one into 'a handyperson who, rather than inventing a new theory or a new paradigm, repairs or remodels existing theories by combining various theoretical concepts." - Eva Boxenbaum, Linda Rouleau, New Knowledge Products as Bricolage: Metaphors and Scripts in Organizational Theory (Academy of Management Review, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2011) 274-275.

-Ben

I see design existing in the "mixed methods" research framework (Cresswell, 2003, 2007)

The current state of the art in mixed methods is fuzzy. It lacks a theoretical foundation that is equivalent of the quantitative framework of positivism, and the various frameworks of different flavors of qualitative methods.

Mixed methods research does have techniques and research-process structures emerging from practice which are taking the form of different ways to mix, match and sequence qual and quant in ways that are connected to the nature of the research question.

I see a strong conceptual and methodological connection between a non-prescriptive, contextually-dependent mixed-methods research approach to a commander sorting thru his Understand-Vision-Describe-Direct process and sensing that he needs a particular emphasis on design. I imagine a commander, applying a personally-suited learning process that helps him structure his insights and understandings in a way that his planners can proceed to engineer their way thru MDMP.

I see him treating this as an inquiry, as a research process, where he forms tentative research questions and preliminary findings to feedforward and feed backward until he has made enough sense of the wicked problem to justify an MDMP.

I dont see this appropriate for reduction to process checklist or a one size fits all technique.

I do see the possibility for focusing questions that help him sense his way thru the wickedness in the same way that the mixed methods research protocols that are emerging help the researcher define, purposes, intents, goals and values in such a way that an appropriate blend of methods begins to take shape.

the habits of mind of: curiosity, humility, inquiry, patience seem important in this context in addition to the usual creativity and critical thinking.

I would distinguish between "thinking hard about the mission in the usual way (MDMP)" and critical thinking, which I believe begins after you have applied your usual thinking method. I see it as an intentional, systematic adoption of a different perspective, and/or problem/environmental frame as a way to expose unstated assumptions or reveal blindspots that arise all too easily from paradigmatic thinking

Ben

Concur with 1 & 2.

"Design's theoretical concepts"

Hmmm, what you describe comes from complexity science (e.g., http://www.santafe.edu/ ).

Design would call upon complexity science to frame meaning as it would on other heuristics (such as movies, novels, histories, and even poetry). There are other sources of logic that are efficacious (e.g., http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Texts/Scholarly/Lakoff_G... or GT Allison's classic 1969 "Conceptual Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis"). I would not advocated "design" as synonymous with "complexity science." My preference would be that design is about finding and trying meaning frames (sensemakings) that certainly would include complexity science in the "bank of heuristics" available.

"leaders must cultivate and convey something that leads to action"

Agree that in our military culture, it is about leadership and action. Not in all cultures. This should give us pause-for-reflection to think about alternative cultural views that do not see EFFICACY in war the same way. Good book is Jullien's Treatise on Efficacy to show the comparative logics with Eastern philosophies of war. Although at the risk of sounding radical here, consider the alternatives to "leaders must cultivate and convey something that leads to action" and we may find sources of creative deviance we would otherwise never consider. We have a rather elaborate romanticist view of leadership in our culture. Same with "action."

Again, as suggested by Grant, experiential learning in wicked social arenas may be "what the doctor ordered" in PME...and would require a rather radical change in faculty and approaches to curricula. There is no substitute for immersion into wickedness to appreciate wickedness.

Chris

Good comments all; Chris- I do want to hold your feet to the fire a bit on what "doctrine" form Design ought to consider.

1. I think we all agree that current FM 5-0 chapter 3 is inadequate, misleading, and corrupted by positivist language and theory.

2. We all seem to converge on the point that Design is a learning process that is dynamic, broad, and in a state of persistant creativity. This pairs as well with doctrinal form as a fireplace in an igloo.

3. I offer social production models as one possible collaborative narrative form that espouses more of Design's theoretical concepts such as self-organization, swarming, adaptation, non-hierarchial forms, and continuous learning/reflection in a holistic form.

What content and form (to follow Hayden White a bit here) would you suggest for Design's future? Remember that in the end, soldiers need to execute...so we as leaders must cultivate and convey something that leads to action; the action that Design recommends should produce better results than merely detailed planning processes alone- otherwise what reason do military organizations have in reinventing their educational processes, logic, doctrine, and practices?

Again, I want to press you for your vision of future design narrative for the military.

Ben

Ben, Grant (and Surferbeetle lastly),

For some reason (and I believe it's the culture of positivism/"can do"), the Army has disassociated design with (Rittel and Webber) WICKED PROBLEMS (that was essential to the idea in the beginning concept--
http://www.tradoc.army.mil/tpubs/pams/p525-5-500.pdf ). Let's examine wickedness from the standpoint of "tasks."

Borrowing from open systems theory, assume there is a "task environment" out there (an environment in which we perform tasks).

Perrow (Complex Organizations) describes four types of tasks:

ïÆ'˜ ROUTINE: These are tasks that technology has solved. They tend to be physical and observable -- like a manufacturing assembly line. In the military context, conducting a pistol marksmanship range is a good example. For routine tasks, analysis and performance metrics work very well.

ïÆ'˜ ENGINEERING: These tasks are more complicated in that they involve detailed planning (as would development of a blueprint for a building and all the logistics required to have things come together in time). Good military example is engineering a plan to attack Iraq in 1991 during the first Gulf War. Here analysis and metrics work well, but can be spoiled by unforeseen variables (such as weather, etc.); hence, contingency branch plans and phased sequels are also engineered as hedges.

The above tasks constitute a logic of solving them called "technical rationality" --using knowledge that is transportable to other situations (i.e. the logic-of-technique [technology] matters for replicable tasks).

ïÆ'˜ CRAFTWORK: This sort of task involves technique AND artwork and the accompanying aesthetic qualities of doing something new/unique/novel and is mostly improvisational -- working with what is at hand (the French call this bricolage). For example, a military context may involve investigative/ intelligence work in addressing something that has not quite been seen before. For these sorts of tasks, analysis and use of metrics become quite problematic because each situation is unique and morphs over time; hence, if task performance can be measured, that measure probably does not apply in future craftwork (so standardization of metrics is implausible).

ïÆ'˜ NON-ROUTINE/EMERGENT: Here the troops are faced with something so novel that we do not have the language structure to "frame" the situation into a definable problem, so even craftwork is not sufficient. These usually involve complex judgments of action learning (Schön calls "reflective practice"). In military work this may involve dealing with very complex situations with a multitude of "competing values" -- such as whether to detain a poppy farmer or whether to burn his crop. It may involve highly contextual activities that even the skill set one has developed are not appropriate. These situations are WICKED. Yet we want the troops to deal with them and exercise appreciative judgment (SENSEMAKING) as they go.

No amount of sharing knowledge for EMERGENT tasks will benefit the community. The knowledge will be tacit, unique to the situation at hand, and ephemeral. So a wiki-based knowledge sharing capability will not help.

I like Grant's idea of application in a localized (let's call it:) "wicked problem arena." Brilliant! It's not that the knowledge gained will be transferable/generalizable, but the psychology and sociology of working on a wicked situation will be a source of heuristics later (theoretically, individual and group comfort with such NONROUTINE situations will grow). As Grant knows, SOF does a pretty good job of screening for these social-psychologies and exercising them (e.g., "Robin Sage").

To Surferbeetle: I think Popper's work is worth reading, yet he is still speaking from the objectivist perspective. I'd prefer the works of Kuhn and my quintessential "design philosopher," Donald A. Schön (who accept the subjectivist views as well). I think the underlying philosophy of design is best linked to phenomenology.

Great discussion!

Chris

Grant, Ben, Chris,

It was a good day at the beach.

So do you agree with PS1->TT1->EE1->PS2?

...and in the background Amos Lee, Windows are Rolled Down.

Steve

I think there is merit to tools such as SPMs, etc. Having said that, I also agree that "sensemaking" (and not "creativity") is a foundation that the literature of Design advocates, but that we- at least in our doctrine- in the military have ignored. We ARE positivist and Design advocates for an other-than-positivist (more than post-positivist... perhaps?) philosophy. But we don't like philosophy in the military. I'll never forget one senior leader editing out the books we at SAMS were reading from an article I was working on because, "military leaders won't understand why we are reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

I think Design has to be able to use technological tools- understanding the limitations of them- and doctrine has to be one of those tools- but I do agree that it can't be the start or "be-all, end-all"- and I also agree that that goes against our current culture.

But to me it really shouldn't matter- we should do "what works". If Design is about addressing complexity- then we should be encouraging experimentation at every level: both in education and in practice- in order to learn what works best. It HAS to be about results IMO. Maybe we'll find that in complex environments, large organizations bounded by our history, culture, and political systems will do better with positivist-grounded philosophical approaches and tools (dare I say "methods"!!!). As long as we understand why (probably mainly our own limitations)- then I think that is important: both to keep our positivist foundations (if they work better for us) and to understand why we are doing what we are doing (in case the situation changes and we can or need to change as well). That would be an informed ignoring of Design fundamentals as opposed to a misunderstanding of them.

But, Chris' point is well-taken- it just might be (and I suspect it will be) that complex environments require a post-positivist approach underlying learning, sensemaking, actions, etc.- and that our results WON'T be better with positivist approaches.

The greatest challenge, in my opinion, is to somehow measure our results in complex environments and how our approaches either worked or didn't (in order to both learn and to justify our approaches). Of course, that's both a necessity IMO and the difficulty with complex environments: logic and root and sufficient causes are evasive.

The sad thing, and I think Chris has beat this dead horse (but obviously not enough) for awhile now, is that our military doesn't admit that there could be a problem with our positivist culture. In fact, I'd argue most wouldn't know what "positivist" means if you asked them. I've seen others attack Chris on blogs as being a relativist. Still others say that Design is "anti-Christian" or "moral relativist" at its core. With this kind of ignorance and lack of intellectual curiosity pervading our ranks- it should be no surprise that we are perhaps applying Design incorrectly.

In terms of doctrine- I think doctrine is fine if you understand it is a snapshot in time of our understanding of something. I submit that we don't know enough about Design to put it into doctrine at this point- other than to throw out some speculations. Maybe after a couple of decades of study on how we approached complex environments in an INFORMED manner- then maybe we could make some tentative conclusions and capture it in doctrine- but noting that doctrine can NEVER capture anything final on complexity...? I think we'd have to seriously change how we use doctrine, though- not sure that would work in today's culture.

On the subject of how we should improve the study, training and education in Design, which I think is close to this subject- I offered this idea on the CAC blogsite post on how to improve the U.S. Army's Design:

Instead of having students attempting to use Design by studying South America or Afghanistan, have students "use Design" on a complex environment that they can interact with locally. So, for instance- in SAMS one seminar could use Design on the drug "problem" in Leavenworth or Kansas City. Poverty could be another option. The subject doesn't really matter- as long as it is local enough that the students could in some way interact with it. Then each seminar could use a different concept of Design to attempt to sensemake, affect the environment, and then re-sensemake (re-frame- although I prefer "sensemake").

Forcing students to study the COE in another country or current operations from Kansas goes against Design literature and doesn't offer the students experience with really trying to interact in a complex environment. That experience: attempting to change things in a complex environment- is much more important than studying the COE in my opinion- which is disingenuous if applied as a way to learn Design.

Chris-

Perhaps we disagree on this, or perhaps I am not making a good enough argument for you to consider the benefits of social production models for Design.

Although wikipedia is the 'brand name' for SPM (let me use that acrynom for sake of brevity); organizational theory considers it something that has been around as long as housewives swapped recipes; but technology has opened up a new geography where things can be done in swarming fashion unlike any period prior. In this case, yes; technology is a driving force- but it is the means, not the ends. The military does use technology as an 'ends' when it should remain in the context of a 'means.'

As a Fine Arts major, I concur 100% that creativity is something that cannot be proceduralized into doctrine or simply taught in blocks of instruction in the military. And, the elephant in the room on that one is that only a small percentage of any group of humans will possess the right combination of intelligence, creativity, drive, emotion, etc. Some folks are inclined towards artistry, and IMO, some are not. I saw it plenty of times in school.

That said- Design (or whatever we choose to call it today...) needs to go beyond explanation and link strategic aims to tactical action; sounds like operational art in some respects. Design requires some form of narrative- and although I loosely use the term 'doctrine' in the article above, that is merely the symbolic label for the concept; as Mary Jo Hatch would say in her Operational Theory text.

So, we need a liberal arts/fine arts approach (what sounds like a different logic set to me) on teaching Design to the military- an organization that thrives upon reductionism, mechanistic procedures, linear causality, repetition, uniformity, and codified doctrine. That does not sound like a good fit. Lets consider social production models for a moment as 'a way' of doing what I think you and I agree is a Design approach to new knowledge (learning about learning...thinking about thinking...problematizing, metacognition). Forget the technology for a second- like I said, I see it as just the means.

Social production models are, according to organizational theorists much smarter than me, an entirely NEW form of production unlike anything prior in human civilization. That is a bold statement- but think about how they function.

1. They are self-organizing; they are not controlled in any hierarchy. People add content, and others edit that content. Wikipedia moves in any direction it chooses to- based not upon a CEO dictating guidance, but upon what contributors choose to add, delete, edit, or reproduce. This sounds like something that can amplify the creativity you seek; and it reduces many of those problematic concerns about military organizations and doctrinal control.

2. Speed. Social production models move extremely fast. Wikipedia has over 15 million articles; it is exponentially growing- it is a swarm that moves as it chooses. With complex adaptive systems that are dynamic (they change as fast as we attempt to act upon them), the speed for a production model becomes important- can a military learn fast enough to continue to attempt to understand and influence a system? Not if it is reduced to moving according to top-down decision making with "intelligence" vetted and packaged from top to bottom. COIST teams are a variation of this, and they do have aspects of social production modeling- as does TIGR and other systems; but we need to improve the knowledge management and explanation instead of relishing in vast piles of description.

3. Motivation. Social production models reflect something unlike previous ones- people work for free. This breaks with Smith's invisible hand; and although the Huffington Post is learning that free is not always free, it still is a fascinating (possibly creative?) aspect of humanity that a self-organizing knowledge production model would contribute for something other than economic gain. What are they gaining? Understanding perhaps? Sounds like some Design in there...

4. Adaptation. Doctrine moves slowly- and the bosses all need to agree. There are so many edits, so many words swapped out because someone was not happy with "operational level of war" whereas their predecessor loved that phrase...Doctrine traditionally is a reflection of our interiority- the known knowns, and our institutional values and tenets. Social production models DO NOT prescribe to these rules. The only editing going on is group concensus- and that seems to really get at core tensions in a complex system better anyways. Check out how tense the wikipedia pages are on the following topics: Palestinian State, history of Iran, the Irish Rublican Army, Islam, Christianity, etc...military doctrine does not have warnings about content under debate. Doctrine means the debate is essentially over until the next revision process in a few years. Social production modeling for Design narratives could avoid many of these problems and produce a dynamic and adaptive approach to learning to learn.

- Last thoughts; the dangers of social production models. Crowds make bad decisions; lone wolves can cause havok or dismantle the natural feedback of a system. Self-organization is not controlable. Leadership in a SPM takes on a new dimension and is unfamilar to the military PME entirely. Insitutional biases can steer an SPM down the wrong paths if only a few perspectives are considered valid. Speed is a rival to accuracy; the wrong information can be quickly uploaded in vast numbers while the right information is lost in the weeds.

Just some thoughts- but again, SPMs are a new way for humans to produce knowledge; to pull from the exteriority into our interiority new understanding. Do not focus on the framework that is indeed technologically based- it now allows humans to do things they could not do efficiently or "in a swarm" before; just as animal domestication and agriculture afforded humans to begin specializing labor and increasing population densities (Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel).

Ben

p.s. encyclopedias are also a technology. As are Wikipedias. These are again attempts to engineer solutions to what are not engineering problems.

We seem to be missing the most important and ... yes...sad part of this whole conversation...

Let's pause and stop talking about technological fixes.

Doctrine is a technology.

Doctrine is the explicit Comptean quest for positive forms of knowledge.

We have to stand back and look at what plagues us.

We have lost touch with something other than a positivist philosophy, and disdain a philosophy that acknowledges that our words can only symbolize what we are experiencing -- a phenomenological one.

War is a phenomenon. Our words to describe it only reflect our available conceptual frameworks for sensemaking.

We grew up with the hope of "science" and in the frame of sending men to the moon or winning the greatest war ever fought (WW II) with machines. These (among other wonders of advanced, engineering-style planning) frames us to what "war" should be or can be.

We cling to these scientisms to make sense of the present day conflicts. It is understandable as the "science" approach worked so well, at least in our retrospections.

We are literally (yes, LITERALLY) experiencing a "loss of words."

And, henceforth, "DESIGN" has to be about meaning frames (and reframing with words).

Studying "meaning frames" belongs more to the fine arts and studying the Trivium of the liberal arts.

This is the ESSENTIAL philosophical problem of our institutions for military education.

Our institutions are so enshrined in the engineering sciences (for good reason, it seems to the positivist), that they cannot fathom inquiring into how the fine arts and liberal arts education processes work to REFRAME -- it is quite different, both ontologically and epistemologically.

For design to work for the military WE MUST EXPLORE FINE ARTS AND LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATIONAL PROCESSES. These cannot be reduced to checklists, tasks-conditions-standards, and so forth -- those believed-to-be valuable things produced by the engineering worldview.

DESIGN is penultimately a VALUES issue for the institution. We are addicted to engineering values -- so the first step is to admit we have an addiction problem...

Most of the concerns expressed in all these blogs seem to be focussed on finding and engineering (positivist) approaches to what is a postpositivist philosophy (DESIGN).

This will not, cannot, work well for us.

How about social production models like Wikipedia (with some core articles built and controlled by the Army)- the rest of the design structure would work with user contribution and self-organizing peer editing? Think about the difference between Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica as a metaphor for Design "narrative form" and other planning doctrine.

As social production models reflect a new form of knowledge production, Design narratives in an acceptable form could look unlike any other U.S. Army military manual- this is a good thing. Design doctrine should clearly possess form and function entirely unlike existing field manuals. Therefore, Design doctrine would essentially be incompatible with detailed planning doctrine in much the same way Wikipedia differs from the Encyclopedia Britannica despite both of them serving a similar purpose. Physically, non-Design doctrine could remain on the shelf for the military, while Designs social production model would likely require a social media format with significant online presence. One can search and print out various articles on Wikipedia, but at over 15 million articles with daily contributions and self-editing, it appears impossible to really capture Wikipedia in a printed form such as a field manual.

In other words, people can still own volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica in their house, while referring to Wikipedia online for other needs as the conditions warrant. The social production model of Design would perpetually adapt and change through self-organization and innovation like a swarm of ants. Within this conceptual framework, the military could continue to publish volumes of doctrine within the hierarchical and reductionist logic that supports linear approaches. Sometimes MDMP is still the most effective means to accomplishing strategic goals through tactical applications. However, Designs logic potentially provides the military a different and innovative process for making sense of highly complex and dynamic systems. While a new edition of a printed encyclopedia takes months, a newly observed concept or identified 'unknown is quickly contributed to the collective through social production by anyone. There are strengths and weaknesses for both logics; military leadership need to think critically about whether the Army is able to do both, or is still preventing Design from functioning at the expense of detailed planning logic.

Just some thoughts on doctrine and Design.

bz

Ok, so can you give an example of this new doctrine that has to be unlike any of our existing field manuals and pubs? Is there anything out there like that? Or is this just theoretical?

In the simplest of terms- what is doctrine? I consider it to be a narrative that results from one system of logic. The military (and western society in general) uses a familiar way of thinking about the world (a logic) that uses theoretical concepts that use reductionism, mechanistic procedures, and linear processes to make sense of the world. The earlier reference of encyclopedias is another example of this form of narrative. By categorizing information and concepts in alphabetical order, that follows the linear causality of B follows A, and precedes C. It is reductionist, because we categorize within our definitions, and it is mechanistic, because it deals with the known- the interiority of our system of logic.

Doctrine, like encyclopedias, deal with what is known, but they do poorly with conceptualizing on the unknown. Design is, in my opinion, a different system of logic that does not share the same theoretical concepts (or at least critically thinks about the ones it may use, and is open to changing or eliminating a concept). Design's system of logic therefore produces different narratives.

As Chris P said, doctrine seeks closure and is expressly fixated on the interiority-it addresses what it knows, and relates new (unknown knowns) through historical internalizing. "This conflict is just like Vietnam..." Or, "this terrorist is much like other types of terrorists"...

I argued in this paper that Design needs 'doctrine' but in a radical new form that really just shares the common word 'doctrine' with reductionist logic just so the military institutionally knows what Design 'doctrine' is needed for.

Design explains. Doctrine describes.
Design learns and innovates. Doctrine demands uniformity and repetition.
Design thinks about thinking. Doctrine expects you to think within institutional values and tenets.
Design considers unknowns. Doctrine considers the known.
Design creates and destroys langauge, metaphors, and theoretical concepts. Doctrine codifies language, prefers historic vignette metaphors, and holds to reductionist, linear, and mechanistic concepts.
Design asks 'why' and answers with 'because.' Doctrine asks 'what' and answers with 'this is the way our institution does X.'

Now, detailed planning logic and the narratives of doctrine made the US the greatest superpower of the 20th century, put American men on the moon, and created comfort levels and safety for Americans unlike any civilization in human history. Detailed planning logic worked well before, and likely contains many concepts and processes that will continue to work well with making sense of the world. But, complexity requires alternate logics...so how do we encourage the military to explore new logics that conflict with institutional tenets such as our addition to doctrine? How do you recognize the value of the past while recognizing the current flaws and abnormalities it generates, and encourage the military to adapt different ways of thinking without the wagons circling?

Ben

I would advocate NOT using doctrine at all for the purpose of design.

First, doctrine historically spirals into an insular, self-referencing knowledge that seeks closure. Philosophies and theories of design must be multidisciplinary -- there should be no claim of esoteric forms of knowledge for design. This defeats the ideal of framing and reframing.

Second, doctrine does not require citations -- there is no audit trail for where assertions come from, the strengths and weaknesses of knowledge, the idea of challenging the state of knowledge (i.e. research), and so on. One could argue that if doctrine is supposed to serve as the "professional body of knowledge" for the profession of arms, it certainly is no subject to the rigor of other sciences. Doctrine is valid because it is approved by oligarchical decree (the signature of a general officer), not through blind, peer-reviewed arguments.

Surferbeetle: Want to clarify that the questions were supposed to reflect continua not either/or (binary) reasoning. My hope is to convey that high complexity is assessed not by binary logic, but with patterned thinking -- the idea of "thinking along continua" is one way to portray patterned thinking. For example, organizations require a degree of control and at the same time require flexibility. Patterned thinking automatically presents a paradox -- simultaneity of opposites that exist at the same time.

Ben,

Should there be a digital military equivalent to the graphical survey of western building methods found in the famed Architectural Graphic Standards (book and CD)? Perhaps a yet to be developed equivalent encyclopedia, iPod ready, entitled the 'Design Standards for the of Application of Force'?

You postulate that doctrine is a straightjacket that should not confine the definition of Design to 15 pages in an FM which is not exclusively focused upon design.

    "Instead, military doctrine applies rigid structure, clear and often highly prescriptive language, detailed graphical depictions, and numerous successful examples through historical vignettes. This reinforces the aforementioned human desire to "project upon the world an ideal plan that will then have to be incorporated into factual reality." 22 This reductionist teleological methodology functions for tactical processes, but it is not an effective model for military design applications dealing with complexity."
    "Design methodology, in order to be taken seriously by the military institution, requires its own exclusive field manual. Not only does design methodology literally need more room to expand upon the design process, military design requires exception from traditional doctrinal procedures and regulation. 34"

Designers (political, economic, technical?), who would use such an encyclopedia, need to understand the context for the correct application and use of force. Would-be and true Designers abound however. Is Lawrence F. Kaplan correct when he states that force is "... a medium for negotiating between elites..." (Obama, Libya, and the Dubious Ethics of Modern Air Wars, TNR, 22 March 2011)? B.H. Liddell Hart states, in his book Strategy, that "...the aim of strategy must be to bring about this battle [the decisive one] under the most advantageous circumstances." John J. Mearsheimer, in his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, feels that "In sum, the ideal situation for any great power is to be the only regional hegemony in the world." Nicolo Machiavelli, in the Prince, opines that "...men when they receive good from whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely to their benefactor...". As these cherry picked quotes show, Designers who would aspire to correctly use an encyclopedia on the application of force, must understand context when applying techniques. The danger is, by way of analogy, that Designers would be instead tempted to try and reduce Einstein's work on quantum mechanics, without the benefit which results from the study/understanding of the material, to a few snappy 'simple' quotes as a display of one's mastery of the approach to enlightenment ;)

Perhaps, instead of an encyclopedia/dedicated Design FM, we must fall back to Chris P's seemingly binary questions regarding the appropriate education for aspiring Designers - liberal arts or science/engineering? Or is Ken White closer to the mark with his perennial observations about the importance of how and who we currently select, and perhaps more importantly, how we manage, those who are to accomplish Military Design work?