Agile Military ideas with Ben Ford

Join Murray Robinson and Shane Gibson in a conversation with former Royal Marine Commando Ben Ford about how agile practices mirror modern military practices in the field. We discuss John Boyd’s OODA loop and the value of an accurate model of one’s environment for good decision making. And we discuss mission command and the value of leadership training to develop an effective approach for orders, planning, delegation, and review.  We hope this episode provides food for thought on how you can utilise some of these military leadership principles to enhance your agile practices in the software product development world.

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Podcast Transcript

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Shane: Welcome to the No Nonsense Agile Podcast, I’m Shane Gibson.

Murray: And I’m Murray Robinson.

Ben: And I’m Ben Ford.

Murray: Welcome Ben. How are you?

Ben: I’m good. Thanks. Great to be on.

Murray: You have a military background, and, there’s a lot of interesting ideas in the military around agility and leadership, which could benefit us in the product development world.

Ben: Yeah I agree. I discounted it for a long time. So I left the military in 2004 having taught myself the basics of Python while I was on the way to Iraq in 2003. Dove into, being a geek and writing code and, it wasn’t until probably, five or so years ago that I began to run into more and more problems of the complexity of development. I got quite frustrated with, building a great team, building a great technical product, and then running into some sort of organizational complexity.


Ben: I started looking into Agile and about that time Team of Teams by General McChrystal came out and then Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Turn the Ship Around and all these military books. And I was already starting to make some links between, my time in the Royal Marines and what I was seeing on the ground. And so these books then sent me on this journey of doing a load of research and coming across the work of John Boyd.


Ben: And yeah, there’s a rich seam of principles that we can extract from, that evolutionary environment of the military that’s been running an experiment on how to operate in complexity for centuries now. There is some good stuff that we can extract for sure.

Murray: The military has been the biggest organization around for most of our civilization. Until probably the last 200 years, private sector organizations, weren’t very big at all. I would imagine that most people coming into, management a 100 years ago had all their experience of large organizations from the military. 

And that’s where a lot of the ideas of traditional management comes from. 

So, in traditional management, there’s a clear distinction between the management who are the officers and the workers. Management think and the workers do. And, there’s five year plans and three year plans and a lot of hierarchy and structure and functions. And that seems like the way the military used to be organized, maybe World War I style.

Ben: Yeah. So that’s the way the military still is organized, actually. So there’s a massive distinction between the operational aspects of the military, i. e. getting on the ground and fighting the bad guys, and the bureaucratic aspects of the military, which are just like any other big bureaucracy in any country in the world.

The way that the operational military works is that org structure flattens out and the best idea wins and, it’s an egalitarian process of decision making to be the most effective. But then you get those very same people come back from making life or death decisions that can have massive international repercussions down to the very lowest level. A private straight out of training can be involved in an operation that could have, international implications and then you get them back on camp and, the Colonel who’s got 20 years of experience goes to work in the MOD and he spends half his day chasing around a refund for a parking ticket that costs 20 quid because the trust isn’t there in that system. So you’ve got these two overlaid dynamics in the same organization. And one context brings out one type of dynamic and one context brings out the other type of dynamic. 

Murray: If you fought a war, the way that captain was trying to get his parking ticket refunded. You’d lose every battle, wouldn’t you? There’s intense competition in a war, which has driven out that bureaucratic behavior, and has proved that, a mission command approach is more successful.

Ben: Yes, definitely, that element of competition is critical. It’s an evolutionary process. And the things that have emerged over, centuries in the military are things that have emerged to stop people getting killed in such great numbers. There’s definitely going to be some gold hidden in that stream. And I think it’s more and more relevant today because the operational environment and the competitive environment within business driven by this technological explosion that we’ve had over the last 25 years is causing the same dynamics to play out much more widely than, a battle in a war.

I’m not going to say business is a war because it’s not. War is a, zero sum mutual destruction. The business environment that we’re in now is much more akin to fourth generation warfare. We’re now in this very diffuse operational environment where incumbents are getting their asses handed to them by scrappy upstarts that are able to operate orders of magnitude more effectively ’cause they’ve got better technology. That’s, where we can definitely take more insight from the military than traditional management.


Shane: do you think the driver is that allows us to lose the agility that you have on the front line when you’re back in the office worrying about your parking ticket.

Ben: So maybe start taking a little dive into John Boyd’s work here. 

Colonel John Boyd is a military strategist who was active from the time of the Korean war to the late nineties. And, he cut a swathe across everything from how you fly a fighter jet all the way up to the design of the first Gulf War campaign. And, he says that the primary objective for any biological organism is to increase its capacity for independent action. So that is bound up with the constraints within which that organism is operating. So the constraints will shape a team, a business, a military unit. And the process by which an internal structure forms within a team or an organism is driven by the constraints of the environment. If you have that team newly forming, there’s not really any pressure, nobody’s asking them to deliver because they’re brand new. They’ll make links and they’ll make structure, but it won’t be the structure that they need to get on the tools and deliver. And the same in the military. You’ll have thousands of people wandering around in higher headquarters but no external pressure and no real goal. So it’s just this mess of people bumping up against each other and vying for position. And I think that probably plays out in many, many companies that have built this ginormous internal bureaucracy.

In the organizations I know of that have really embraced an agile transformation. It’s because they were suffering from severe financial problems. One organization I was working with was losing a lot of money on all of their projects. So they had to do something different. And so therefore they really got behind a big change. Another organization I know of had very disappointing sales figures and so they, put somebody from their digital arm in charge. So the change comes from, having to respond to a threat that can’t be ignored.Yeah. What you’re describing is environment driven change. 

One of the observations that I make about some places I’ve worked in the public sector is that you’ve got all of these consultants running around selling Agile into the top of the organization. And then they try and implement it from the top But actually the only time that this really works is when it’s implemented bottom up. So it’s gotta be this evolutionary, environmental driven process of energy and information exchange with the environment that you’re operating and not some grand two year plan from the leadership saying here’s the plan. Go do it.

Shane: I’ve never gone into an organization that has had permission from the top to do the change properly. But if the people at the bottom are trying to do it and they don’t have permission, it would be the same as, squads going out into the field, but still being told they had to phone home. And, they’re either going to ignore it, break the rules or do it and wear the consequences.

I think in those large organizations, they still need permission to change the way they work. It doesn’t need to be from the top down, but there needs to be some safety for them to fail, to learn, to make mistakes.

Murray: I’ve seen a number of Agile transformations that started from the bottom up. And then there’s a change of leadership and, suddenly it’s all squashed by somebody who wants to put in a traditional approach. So it needs top level support. But , it shouldn’t be imposed. It needs to come from both directions at the same time. When there’s something wrong in the environment, the people on the ground are very well aware that things have to change. 

Ben: Yeah. So I’ve seen examples of bottom up driven transformation. I’ve heard it referred to as an internal insurgency. There’s a great book called the Tower and the Square, which is about the historical interaction between hierarchies and networks. And it does seem that there’s this periodic, rhythm of the network or the hierarchy getting control but then that environmental pressure percolates up within the informal network and disrupts the hierarchy. 

A great example is the operations executive in the second world war. Before they could disrupt the Germans, they had to form under the protection of Churchill himself and disrupt the war office because the war office wasn’t interested. The war office was, no thank you, we’re British, we fight with the Queensbury rules and we’ll stumble into another bout of trench warfare and kill millions of people. I’m not sure whether permission’s exactly the right word. because I think Sometimes these things percolate up to the point that they can’t be ignored. There’s some aspect of meeting in the middle and support from the top. .


Murray: I wanted to ask about OODA loop, do you want to run through it?

Ben: Sure. So the OODA loop is the formulation that John Boyd came up with towards the end of his work. So there’s a, four step process where you observe, you orient, you decide, and you act, that’s what OODA stands for. You often see that portrayed as a circle with an arrow going around the circle from observe to act. And then, you observe the results of your actions. The traditional simplified view of that is, if you go around that loop quicker than your opponent, you win. 

This was a culmination of Boyd’s 30 years of incredibly wide insight and research into military history, natural sciences, philosophy. 

The key to OODA is orientation. Orientation is your model of the world. It’s how closely your internal picture of the world matches up to the environment that you’re operating in. And the whole point of going through this OODA loop is to build that model to an acceptable level of fidelity that lets you operate in that environment with fluency.

I’ll give you an example from the martial arts. My favorite martial art is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is you’ll drill a movement. This is how you choke somebody, but all of the learning takes place in rolling, which is simulated combat. the difference between somebody who’s been doing it for a while and somebody who’s brand new is night and day. And that new person can have 30 years of experience in another martial art.

You’ll get people with black belts and multiple dans and other martial arts come in and they’ll get their asses handed to them by a six month experience, white belt. And you can learn how to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with absolutely no training at all. You can just roll and learn. So there’s a guy based in Australia. but he basically discounts drilling completely. And he, got to black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu just by relentlessly putting himself in bad positions and figuring things out. So no hypothesis at all, just purely experience led building of these internal structures that teach you to operate better. And, same goes with good development teams and businesses. As they grow, they will build this internal structure that enables them to operate at a higher level.

Murray: It seems to me that you need to be open and honest and reflective, to understand what’s working and what’s not working with your customers, your market and your team, which is the key to a lot of the scrum ideas.

Ben: Yeah. And debriefs in the military. It’s exactly the same principle.

Shane: But it also aligns with the idea that while some of the agile patterns are useful, the adaption of those patterns to something that works for you is more important than following the patterns to the letter of the law. 

Ben: Yeah, a hundred percent. There’s a great quote from Boyd that doctrine inevitably becomes dogma. And when it becomes dogma, it’s not useful as doctrine anymore.

Murray: we talk a lot about tailoring your approach to software development, don’t we Shane?

Shane: Yeah, find your own way of working, adopt what’s useful and throw away what’s not. We also talk a lot about skills and roles, and Murray and I have a different view on this particular one. How does that work in the military, you have a group of people that are going out. They all have different skills, but they do actually have predetermined roles, don’t they?

Ben: Yeah. The way the Royal Marines works is quite interesting. The Royal Marines is a very longstanding military organization that goes back to 1664. But the commando aspect of it came about during the second world war. And that commando aspect is now woven through the culture of the Marines. So the Marines is a bit different in that everyone regardless of whatever specialism you do, you’re a commando first. So everyone who has a green beret within the Marines has done 32 weeks minimum training. And then you go on to do your specialism. So I was a signaler back in the day when it was still analog radios and very out of date kit.

And then, the unit on the ground might take people from a different specialism. So you might have a heavy weapons division for an operation, a signals unit, maybe you’ll have a sniper team. But even though all those people have different roles the communications process and the doctrine and the way that they learn how to interoperate is the same. There’s a common fabric that holds them together which is the communications practices and processes, and then the different skills go off and do their things, but they report back via the same mechanism.

Shane: They effectively have a shared language,

Ben: Yeah. 

Shane: What happens if one of those specialist skills isn’t available?

Ben: Yeah. so there’ll be weapon systems that need specialist training. The Javelin anti tank missile, for example, is a specialist course that you need to go on and there’ll be bits of radio equipment that I was trained on that other people wouldn’t be trained on, but the process of operating the radio, like the, voice procedure to mitigate the poor communications of the equipment is the same. So everyone learns that during training. 

That’s where this military planning process comes in. So you have an objective and you have a set of resources and during the planning process you figure out how you can make that objective happen with the resources that you’ve got. Sometimes you’ll have to be extremely creative and sometimes you’ll have to go back to higher command and say, look, I just can’t make this work, and then that will percolate up and a larger objective might have to change. So you’ll go up and down this process of planning similar to OKRs in some ways. 

If a unit has been given a task that it can’t complete on its own. It will ask for the resources it needs to complete it. So, Okay, we don’t have a heavy weapons unit with us. Can we get an airstrike instead? So there’ll be this process of, okay, this is the objective that we have to meet. How can we make it happen? That will be that kind of flat, right? who’s got the ideas, I don’t care if it’s like someone brand new. If they got an idea that, we can put our finger in the air and think, yeah, that’s got a chance of working then that might start to form the backbone of a plan to take that objective. And then at some point you’ll either say, yeah, we’ve got something that’s good enough. This is what we’re going to go with. And then you’ll make it very detailed. Or you’ll go back and say well, look, we just can’t make this work. We need to change it.

Murray: This might be a good point to explain mission command. . 

Ben: So the idea of, mission command is that you set the objective. And then you empower lower units to achieve the elements of that objective by whatever means within the constraints that you set . And, all of these things get quite fuzzy quite quickly. 

There’s a great story of a Swedish military unit in Bosnia, and Sweden’s whole doctrine is based on the Russians are going to invade us and we’ll need to very quickly move into guerrilla warfare. So they absolutely embrace mission command down to the roots in their DNA. So when you put a bunch of these people in Bosnia, and they’re under this UN mandate and rules of engagement That didn’t work for them. The mission that they were given was to protect the local population. And when the rules of engagement got in the way of them protecting the population, they said fuck that. And they threw the rules of engagement out and they, started going toe to toe with whoever their opponent was and they were far more effective in the objective that they were given, but they completely ignored the constraints within which they were supposed to operate. So this is where the problems come with command and control in the military. In order to achieve the outcome, sometimes you have to accept that you’re not in control as a commander. And in order to allow people to be out of control, you have to trust them and they have to trust you.

Murray: I think it’s very common for management not to trust their staff and therefore to be extremely controlling. it goes back to theory X versus theory Y philosophy. Theory X is you can’t trust people. They’re lazy. They’ll avoid responsibility. Theory Y is people are naturally innovative and creative and want to achieve things with the right trust and support. I see a lot of Theory X type of people implementing Agile and turning it into what’s called dark scrum micromanagement.

Ben: I’ve never heard that before, but oh my God, it fits so well in so many places I’ve worked.

Murray: Yeah, it’s like nightmare authoritarian Scrum where you’re a factory worker on a death march because, people with that mindset are using Scrum to micromanage you. So it’s a mindset difference.

Ben: Yeah, it is. And I think there’s a huge amount of insecurity that goes with leadership positions. And when humans are uncomfortable they seek control. And the irony is that by trying to do that, they actually remove the ability to generate that capacity for independent action over time, because they remove that learning element, which is what builds the structure, which is what allows you to operate. So it’s this really perverse negative cycle of, more control means less learning, which removes control, which means that you try and apply more control and you get less learning. It’s a really bad dynamic that so many companies are in.

Shane: You often see in large organizations people get promoted to their highest level of incompetence or, they work to get promoted rather than work to add value. How’s that different in the military? 

There’s a few elements that are different. Yes, it’s a hierarchy at the end of the day. It works the same as any other hierarchy. One of the differences military has is they have this predefined process of communication that is the same everywhere. So if you lose somebody in a leadership position the next person that slots in already has a very predefined way of communicating. So it’s the orders process, it’s debriefing, it’s all this stuff that is built into the doctrine and the training. So you’re not losing the whole leader, the system remains. Whereas in many civilian contexts, a person leaves and all of that structure leaves with them. There’s more continuity in the military, which is required because you need people to slot into a working machine and continue the mission. So there’s system wide ceremonies. You know what the ceremonies look like. You know the language of those ceremonies and therefore you’re at least not starting from a standing start. So , a lot of comparisons to the agile patterns that we use. 

Ben: Yeah, it’s almost kind of ritualized similar to the ceremonies, except it’s there across the whole organization. One of the problems with Agile is that the ceremony is not the same once you get up to a certain level.


Murray: What I was going to say before was that management in the private sector is frequently very inward looking and political. And people who do well often do so by controlling the information that goes up and down the hierarchy so that they look good, and they get credit for things and therefore they get promoted.

But the process of doing that can severely distort the information going up to the senior leadership. So the classic one is where people are on a death march project. Everyone knows it’s going to fail. The project manager reports it as red. The manager says, no, it’s actually good. They report it as green to the executive. And it goes all the way up to the top as a project that’s going very well. And then it fails and everyone is surprised. 

In a lot of organizations, senior executives are living in a fantasy world about how things are really going because they have created a culture of fear in their organizations where people won’t tell them what’s really going on.

Ben: A hundred percent. And the OODA loop has got a lot to say about this. OODA describes the process of interacting with your environment. And the only place that you touch your environment is an observation and action. A key way of getting inside an opponent’s OODA loop is you either shape their observation by feeding them information too quickly or feeding them the wrong information or noticing that they are taking the wrong meaning from it and magnifying that. And you also disrupt the information flow about the results of their actions. And what happens is that the opponent folds in upon itself because all it does is try and orientate and decide. Orientate, decide, orientate, decide. And it’s orientation is moving further and further away from something that is a fit for reality. And, what you’ve described is exactly that process being generated internally by politics. You’re cutting off information from the environment and you’re increasing internal entropy. Exactly what any opponent would seek to do to you if they were trying to destroy you. And so many companies that just happens organically, internally, because of all these politics. 

Shane: And wasteful processes. We see it as an anti pattern in teams, the team self organizing, but then there’s a whole lot of gates put in their way. The gates stop them delivering and then they get smacked for not delivering on time. So more gates go in to make sure they deliver on time and that destructive loop within the team helps them burn out.

Ben: Yeah, there’s a great extract from a CIA field manual in the 1950s about how to bring down a regime. And it’s become a bureaucrat, make sure you’ve got always a comment in meetings and insist everything goes through committee. It’s like an operating manual for a screwed up company in the 2000s. 

Shane: So one of the things we struggle with is scaling. So how does a military organization handle that scaling problem?

Ben: It does it by having fractal social structures. So in the Marines, when I was in, there’s an eight person section, which is two four man fireteams, each of which has a fireteam commander. One of those fireteam commanders is the section commander. 

Three sections form a troop or a platoon plus troop sergeant, which is logistics, troop commander, which is leadership, and then probably a troop signaler. So that would be somebody who knows how to use a radio and then any attachments for liaison with other elements. 

And then three troops form a company and the company has a slightly larger HQ element. With, probably two or three signalers and a larger set of attachments, like a heavy weapons platoon. So you get this growing fractal structure, each element that you go up adds slightly larger non combat element. 

And then three companies goes into a commando or a regiment. And that has a lot more support like, motor transport, much larger signal element other types of heavy weapons and mortars. And it becomes a more capable and self contained fighting unit as you go up. So you get this nesting or composing smaller subunits into larger units with extra support structures as you grow. 

Murray: Since we’re talking about larger teams, I’d like to just touch on turn the ship around, which is about commanding a US nuclear submarine, which has about 130, 140 people on it .So Shane and I talk a lot about servant leadership here and how that is the way to get the best out of people and to get the best sort of organization. And it strikes me that although he doesn’t talk about servant leadership specifically, that’s what he’s doing as the commander of that submarine. I wonder what you thought?

Ben: Team of teams and turn the ship around both fantastic books. What’s interesting about them is that they don’t mention the theoretical underpinnings. I don’t think mission command is mentioned in team of teams at all. The OODA loop is not mentioned in team of teams at all and turn the ship around is similar. Essentially servant leadership is about being there to remove obstacles from the team so they can achieve the outcomes that you want.

Murray: In Turn the Ship Around he talks about taking one of the worst performing nuclear ships and turning it into one of the best in 12 months by delegating as much as possible.

Ben: Yeah. So one of the things that David Marquet implemented is that, in order to bring me a problem you have to also bring a suggested solution. So there’s two little acronyms here. I intend to, in order to. So orders come with I want you to do this in order to realize this benefit. And problems come with I’ve noticed this and I intend to do this about it.

The really interesting effect of that is that everyone is noticing what’s going on and reacting to it, but you end up mitigating the signal going upwards so that only the really important stuff goes up. So you’re mitigating the overload of the leader to be in the loop. So it’s, I’ve seen this problem and I intend to do this. And then, two things can happen either. Yeah, that sounds good. Go do it. Which is what happens most of the time, because these people are experts or it’s no you’ve misunderstood that I suggest we try this instead, or I’ll go and get help.

What happens in many places that I’ve worked is that person in the leadership position becomes the bottleneck because they have to be in the loop for every decision. So they become overwhelmed less effective and they become the bottleneck.

What happens here is that you still get that signal coming up, but it gets attenuated so that only the really important stuff gets to the appropriate level. And that’s what happens in every biological system. The signals that come in are attenuated appropriately. And only the really important stuff gets into the middle. That’s how our cognition works as well. So, if you can get that dynamic going, that’s the secret to being able to scale appropriately.

Murray: One of the big problems I see is that managers are not trained on how to manage people. I know very few managers who know how to give feedback in a constructive way, most of them don’t give any feedback at all, or they give very destructive personal feedback. They don’t know how to do one on ones. The basic stuff about how to lead people is not taught in management at all. It’s not taught in an MBA. presume people actually do learn that in the military but I don’t know. 

Ben: Yes and no. So yeah, leadership is sprinkled throughout every aspect of the military. But a lot of the elements of leadership in the military is offloaded to the system. So it’s a socio technical system. It’s not a set of skills. For example, the orders process and the debrief process offloads a whole bunch of that ego and interpersonal problem onto a specific process that you go through. 

Okay. What happened? Objective. And then what did you do? And then what did you do? There’s an accepted doctrinal process that you go through that pulls out mistakes were made. I would have done this differently. I would have done that differently. That’s not a leadership skill as such. It’s an aspect of the system within which that leadership skill is deployed. What that gives you in the military is the ability to swap. It caps downside of poor leadership, so if you get somebody who is not great interpersonally. And, this happens in the military because of that officer divide. that You’ll very often get people that are from completely different strata of society that, come across extremely arrogant. I had this myself. I went to university and I did the officer training core at quite posh university before I joined the Marines as an enlisted guy. And I carried over a whole bunch of communications styles that were completely inappropriate. 

So having a system in place caps, the downside of a poor leader without limiting the upside of a good leader. And I think that’s a really important thing that we can learn from the military is that as turnover increases and tenure decreases in companies. What remains is the system. So as a leader and owner of a company, that’s the thing you should be working on because that’s the thing that remains as people cycle through. You get the benefits of the good people, cap the downside of the poor hires and the system as a whole becomes more fit and more appropriate over time.

Shane: yeah, I mean, that process you talk about of what happened, what went well, what didn’t go well. It sounds almost like a scrum retrospective.

Ben: Oh, totally. Yep. 

Shane: We often see teams using it. We don’t see leaders using it. 

Murray: Yeah, they should though. 

Shane: Yeah well, they should do daily standups. They should talk to each other about how they’re steering the ship. 

Murray: They should be open and honest about what’s going on.

Ben: But there isn’t an appropriate way of doing that, in most companies. One of the best techniques that I’ve come across for that is called red team thinking. So red teaming is another aspect of military culture, that grew out of, this observation that you can have the best military in the world operationally. They can go in and they can do a perfect job on the ground. But if the strategy that sent them there in the first place was flawed, then it’s all for nought because your overall security position, economic position gets progressively worse over time. So red team thinking or red teaming, as it was called, was formulated in the military to mitigate human cognitive biases that come up and are really detrimental in groups. Things like, group think and confirmation bias. It’s a set of protocols and a structure in place rather than relying on somebody who’s a really skilled leader to be able to put that in place. 

Murray: Do you want to explain what red team thinking is? Is it where you get one group of people to play the role of the opposition and to say if you did that, I’d do this?

Ben: That’s one element of it. You build a plan, you throw it across to the red team. The red team tears it apart and gives it back to you in tatters. That’s the traditional, military way of taking a strategy and pressure testing it. 

Red team thinking is a bit different. It’s more of a set of skills that you embed at every level. A bit like what we were talking about with the military doctrine, having that same set of communications protocols. But it’s things like liberating structures, in meetings. If you’ve got the single alpha male who has some bizarre notion that he has to be the lead wolf because he’s the guy in charge. A liberating structure would be something that you put in place. It’s just a simple rule that in meetings, everybody speaks once before anybody speaks twice.

Ben2: So there’s a book that Marcus Dimbleby and Bryce Hoffman wrote called Red Teaming. Bryce was the only civilian to go through the US army’s red team university. They’ve since added a bunch to it and they do workshops and whatnot. Really good stuff.

Murray: Interesting. I’ll have to take a look. 

Shane: We’re pretty close to our time. So maybe we’ll just wrap up with some thoughts on some stuff we found interesting. Murray take us away with your thoughts.

Murray: Yeah there’s a lot of parallel development that’s happened in the military and in Agile with both sides, not being that aware of each other or what they’re doing. Although Jeff Sutherland was a fighter pilot in Vietnam . And he did have exposure to the OODA loop when Scrum was being developed. Some of that may have actually influenced Scrum from the beginning. 

Ben2: Yeah, also Steve Blank was in the Air Force. So all of the lean startup type of ideas, that’s all quite explicitly influenced by the OODA loop as well.

Murray: Yeah. Lean Startup is fantastic. And a lot of overlaps between Lean Startup, OODA, and Agile. I would really incorporate Lean Startup into everything we do with, Agile product development these days. 

So lots of really interesting ideas. Mission command we need to do a lot more of that and do it properly.

We need to have an accurate model of our environment so that we can make good decisions and that depends on having good information and that’s a really big problem in most organizations today because of the politics that distorts everything. 

We need to do a lot more basic, people management education of leaders because we just don’t do it.

Team of Teams I found very similar to Agile ideas. He talks a lot about having to bring the CIA and the different elements of the army and the special forces and the air force together into a tight loop of decision making to solve their problem with insurgents.

Ben2: I think the key thing with team of teams is it wasn’t really just about the decision making, it was about that shared consciousness that they created. And that shared consciousness is just another word for orientation to me. It’s having a tight orientation so that the people on the ground can operate at the speed that the environment requires, which for them was daily cadence.

Murray: Yeah so lots of fascinating ideas. What do you think Shane?

Shane: yeah, look I got lots out of it. So the key points for me was shared language, known ceremonies .And then on to scaling. It’s that same pattern of small teams and then three of those, and then three of those. And as you scale up, more overhead to manage the complexity that you get by having a hundred people involved in a moving part. 

The competition or time constraint one, still one that I hadn’t thought about from that lens. The sense of competition against somebody else gives you a shared goal. The time constraint where you have to get it done that you can’t muck around and wait. 

The key thing being, when the forces are deployed, get out of their way. Give them autonomy. Things will go well, things will go wrong. But by putting things in the way, it’s always going to go wrong.

So I think, as people retire out of the military, they should move into the world of Agile and start bringing some of those practices to us a bit more than we currently have now. .

Murray: Ben, how can people reach you, find out more about you and how you can help them?

Ben2: Yeah, sure. So I’m at commando dev on both Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m ben at commando. dev on email. Any of those will work. I do coaching and consulting mainly for smaller companies. I generally am working at the lower levels and I’ve got literally no idea how to make this stuff stick at bigger organizations. It’s a much, much tougher nut than I can crack. But scaling up tech companies. That’s my bag. That’s where I really formulated all the links between these two worlds that we’re talking about.

And that’s where I feel like I can help the most. So, implementing that bottom up sensemaking, being more fluent and more in tune with your environment. That’s definitely stuff I can help with if you’re a tech company. So yeah, feel free to drop me a line.

Murray: Great. All right. for that, Ben.

Ben2: Awesome. Cheers Alright, catch you later.

Murray AI: That was the No Nonsense Agile Podcast from Murray Robinson and Shane Gibson. If you’d like help to create high value digital products and services, contact murray at evolve. co. That’s evolve with a zero. Thanks for listening.

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