Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Moran, Foggo and an Economist Walk in to a Bar ...

Sam LaGrone over at USNINews did a great job with an interview recently with Vice Adm. Bill Moran, USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education (N1).

Sam lays out a great series of question in an wide-ranging interview that covers retention, education, and trying to work with a personnel systems that is almost designed to prevent positive change.

You need to read it all, but here is one item that got my attention:
What we don’t have are the clear signals of when it’s going to occur. I have an economist now working for me and he understands that . . . [we should know] where this storm is heading, when we think it will come to shore, what’s the intensity level and what can we do to prepare and have policy?

This goes back to [identifying] what polices we need to have in our quiver to be able to attack retention in sectors that will really hurt the Navy if we aren’t smart about it.
Earlier this year in San Diego, I had the opportunity to steal a few moments with RADM (soon to be VADM) James G. Foggo, III. One of the topics we discussed was something I have been an advocate of for a very long time - we need to have economists on staff to help with planning and understanding some of the complex issues we are dealing with. Foggo gets it - and it seems Moran does as well. Our Navy will be better off for it. Nice.

I already had a good opinion of Moran - it just grew to another level.

In a larger context, he outlines where he is watching closely for high-impact retention problems. In part;
We’re seeing the senior leaders starting to retire earlier than they have in the past. I think that’s in recognition of how hard they’ve fought for the last 13 years. Lots of deployments, lots of time away from family.

It’s not necessarily a big problem except there’s a lot of combat experience that’s walking out the door that we don’t want to lose.
On the aviation side [there’s] not too much trouble yet on retention. The one bubble we’ve seen here in the last couple of years is retaining . . . those coming right out of command and reaching their 20-year mark.

Rather than sticking around and competing for captain and follow-on command opportunities . . . [they’re] retiring earlier than we’d like. We’ve recently reestablished a bonus for those guys to help incentivize them to stay around.

The surface nuke community is clearly the most challenging in terms of keeping the junior officers and experienced enlisted nukes in.
You’re always up against the bureaucracy and the laws and statutes of personnel policy that haven’t changed significantly since World War II.
There is more, much more.

Personnel policy is the "entering argument" for almost all we do. If we get that right, it has a knock-on effect throughout the Fleet. If we dork it up, the damage is exceptionally difficult to mitigate or recover from.

One final note; I would be remiss in my duties and not a typically narcissistic blogg'r if I didn't bring up this pull-quote;
USNI News: Which blogs do you read?

Moran: Oh, man! Should I even go there?

Actually [N1 Public Affairs], scours the blogs and sends me links to ones from which he sees some areas to harvest good ideas. I’ve been on [CDR Salamander] a couple of times, I watch that from time to time. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I spend a good part of my day on these things—but when there’s one [the Public Affairs team] says, “Hey, you probably should take a look at this,” [I’ll take a look at it].

I tell them to bring me the criticisms, don’t bring me—and there isn’t much of it—praise. I want to see where the criticism is and see what’s making people’s heads hurt.

I have become somewhat of a believer that in the blogosphere you’ll get a lot of the critics and rarely do you get people that are as thoughtful.

But still the [blogs] are data points for me to make sure we’re addressing some of that criticism.
Always thankful for the mention - you can hear EagleOne and my interviews with VADM Moran on Midrats here and here.

It is interesting to see leadership doing their best to get their head around this new-ish part of the information/media ecosystem. He is right, blogs can be a source of a lot of heat and not much light - but that is their job - and as a wide-open medium, it takes time and effort by the consumer to break the wheat from the chaff. That is its strength. It truly is the marketplace of ideas in all its glorious inefficiencies, anarchy - and as a result - value.

Where the blogosphere gains its greatest utility is when it functions as a collective, self-policing, and re-generating idea generation and perspective provider. It really is just another part of the media environment - just a little more chaotic and untrainable. It is a way to get a different, often unfiltered, view of opinions and ideas that may not make it through the filters others have put in between senior leadership and the deckplates. Not their fault, it just is.

In the solo-blog format (old school, not the magazine or group-blog format), EagleOne, Steeljaw, and myself have been at it for a decade with others, while newer Navy bloggers such as AskSkipper and TheGreenieBoard have joined in with some superb content and discussion. Each one brings a different voice to a crowd-sourced intellectual churn that keeps out little pond healthy.

We're all glad that CNP has a chance to see what breaks above the background noise. If nothing else, reminds me to try to edit my work better. 

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