The US Armed Forces is one of the largest employers in our country, instilling the values of team work, integrity, and accountability in each and every service member. Every member has maximized their understanding of these values by the time they separate from service because their very lives quite literally depend on that understanding.
Building on these values, many service-members gain valuable experience at comparatively young ages in leadership, operations management, service delivery, personnel management, and general logistics and planning. Service-members tend to also be very metrics oriented as the rating systems for personnel is very well documented and focuses on material results. Each service-member is provided with coaching along these lines and understands the importance of meeting their mission objectives, establishing suitable focus on execution.
For example, as a 21 year old commissioned officer straight out of college, I assumed the responsibility of leading a platoon of 54 soldiers in securing a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. In this same role, I took on other responsibilities to oversee logistics, supply, and training operations for over 270 soldiers, and oversaw fleet maintenance operations for a fleet of 72 vehicles with additional oversight and responsibility for a $5 million budget – all by the age of 24.
The skills translate exceptionally well to the civilian sector. Shortly after I left the military, I led my team in an operations overhaul in the mid 90’s at Continental Airlines to win multiple consecutive JD Powers awards for customer satisfaction resulting from significant improvements our initiatives had on on-time performance. This had a big impact on the bottom line as well – the airline recaptured hundred of millions in operating costs as a result of this initiative.
This level of experience is not atypical of a military officer. This experience and profile also proved very valuable in running Business Process Management programs over the past decade as it brings additional perspective to the team regarding operational impact of business processes. This experience and capability can guide teams in driving improvements to operational processes as impact is identified, allowing for more agile governance of these initiatives and driving measurable improvements to operations that more than justify the investments in those teams.
Is your team struggling with achieving measurable improvements in operational results? Does your team operate more as a fragmented group of individuals and fail to collaborate effectively? Do you have an armed forces veteran on your team? If not – why not?