What Place Does Digital Learning Have in Our Army?

A Call for Input from The Military Leader

Today, I want to let you know about an exciting opportunity and ask for your help in preparing for it. On October 3rd, I’m honored to participate in a 4-person panel at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting.


The topic is “digital learning in the Army today” and I’ll be flanked by three fellow writers:  Nathan Finney of Strategy Bridge, Joe Byerly of From the Green Notebook, and military fiction writer Jessica Scott. During this panel, we will discuss the important role that digital media (online and social) is playing in the Army, as well as what it means for future learning.

In preparing for this panel, I would sincerely appreciate hearing what you have to say about digital learning in our Army. And by “digital learning” I mean developing yourself or your team through blogs, social media, online magazines, chat forums, etc. – not the official digital learning tools that the Army publishes.

Some framing questions would be:

Are you using online content to develop yourself or your team?
Do you use social media to complement your Army leadership?
Is digital media a credible forum to discuss professional topics?

I plan to (anonymously) cite your experience and examples as evidence of digital media’s impact on our profession. I am open to all input on the topic but have settled on two broad questions to start the discussion.

  1. In what ways are you using online content and social media to enhance your team’s professional development?
  2. How do you see digital learning affecting the Army profession in the years to come?

Please feel free to comment on this post’s comment section, on Facebook, Twitter, or at the following survey link:

Take Me to the Survey!

Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on digital learning in our Army. If you are interested in reading the latest official guidance regarding Army social media, click here. For the AUSA Annual Meeting site, click here.

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10 Ways to Start a Conversation About Leadership

Vince Lombardi wisely quipped, “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Success does not happen by accident…and neither does becoming a leader. The road to meaningful influence is marked by deliberate steps to acquire knowledge, gain experience, and engage in ways that specifically relate to leadership. Followers can do this on their own, but leaders have a tacit responsibility to grow other leaders and must find ways to further the leadership development of those around them.


Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, talks to airmen following a field exercise at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Aug. 2, 2016. The airmen are assigned to the 39th Security Forces Squadron base defense operations center. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

Professional Etiquette in the Digital Age

by James Welch

Perhaps more than any other professional culture, the military demands that Soldiers perform their duties with a particularly high level of decorum and professionalism.  This is manifested in our hierarchical rank structure and our daily interactions with superiors, peers, and subordinates.  While the rise of digital technology has the potential to make these relationships stronger and improve the overall performance of individuals and organizations, it also has the potential to significantly damage one’s image.


Photo Credit: Army Sergeant Christopher M. Gaylord, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

My In-Depth Guide to Creating a Blog Post

The Military Leader - from "Birth to Buffer"

There are two types of people who will really like this post. First are the content producers (bloggers, website managers, writers), because I’m going to lay out some really geeky blog stuff. The other people who will enjoy this are those who want to peek behind the curtain of The Military Leader blog. This post is an inside look at everything that I invest and every step that I take to make The Military Leader what it is today. If you’re not a content producer, don’t worry. I’m going to give you a few takeaways right up front. Here we go!


The Top Posts from 2015

As 2015 closes, I’d like to thank you for making leader development part of your life. It means a lot that you commit to developing yourself through reflection, discourse, and study. And it means even more that you employ that insight to grow those you are responsible for leading. I hope The Military Leader has been a valuable part of that leader development process.


A soldier provides protection as UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly from a landing zone on Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, Dec. 2, 2015. The soldier is assigned to 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon

This is #Slack…and Here’s How Your Unit Can Use It

One week spent in a military unit will show you that efficiency isn’t its shining characteristic. Not only does information bombard the unit from multiple levels of the chain of command, but within the organization there are hundreds of conversations taking place to prepare for, synchronize, and execute the myriad of events on the calendar. (And I’m sure the same is true for the business world.)

These conversations happen over thousands of emails, in meetings, face to face, and on the phone. And if your experience is like mine, almost everything goes out over email.

But what if there was a way to customize your conversations based on your team’s requirements instead of relying on the single “channel” that is the email inbox? What if you could have your conversations in the right place, instead of all over the place?

Enter #Slack.


Professional Development, One Paragraph at a Time (ProDev2Go)

A New Blog by Ross Coffman

What does an Army Colonel do after he finishes killing it in brigade command? …Start a professional development blog, of course! Today, let me highlight a new blog that you’ll definitely want to make part of your professional development plan.

ProDev2Go just fired up last month, but is the continuation of a groundbreaking leader development approach by one of the most successful brigade commanders in the Army today.


Breaking Barriers

While in command down at Fort Bliss, Colonel Ross Coffman sought a new way to connect his Troops with his leader development vision, something better than the usual death by PowerPoint. So, he got a Twitter account, then created a YouTube and podcast channel called Ready First. He and his Command Sergeant Major used this novel approach to communicate with the command, relay their leader development and tactical experience, and show that Army leaders are capable of getting out of their comfort zone to reach their people.

Rapid Fire Mentorship

Now, as a testament that the best leaders never stop looking for ways to have positive influence, Colonel Coffman dove head first into the blogging world and created ProDev2Go as a way to provide high quality leader development in short bursts. The concept is simple:

As a “Leader on the Go” we understand that you desire a succinct learning opportunity that provides a written glide path for success.  This leader development site is a single paragraph of lessons learned that you can use in a practical role in your workplace, job, business, or employment. We are changing Leaders one Paragraph at a time!!!

Plugging into ProDev2Go is like being mentored by a brigade commander, something we all could benefit from. You’ll find insight on trust, mission command, leader development, warfighting doctrine, and many other useful topics.

Head on over there now and check it out!

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The Leadership Bottleneck

What happens when managers and leaders cross lines (by Philip Gift)

As editor of The Military Leader, I want to introduce this post. Philip Gift is a U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, studied engineering at the Naval Academy, and has offered this thorough analysis of leadership through a lens of Operations Research. It is so far the longest post on this site, but you will find that his insights apply to a wide range of leadership, management, and operations topic areas. You can find his expanded byline at the end of the post.

Many people view Operations Research, if they view it at all, as dealing solely with numbers. Operations Research is more than just numbers; it is primarily about the thought process to get those numbers. An example of this would be increasing the throughput of an assembly line. Adding more resources at the beginning of the line does not necessarily mean there will be an increase to the quantity of the product at the end of the line within the same timeframe. No matter how much is put into the assembly line, it will not be able to produce any more if the slowest point in the assembly line is not quickened.

Leadership Bottleneck

ABOARD USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7) — An MH-53 helicopter prepares to depart the flight deck of USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) September 25 for assesments along the Louisana/Texas coast following Hurricane Rita’s landfall. U. S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate Second Class (AW/SW) Robert Jay Stratchko

By viewing a problem through an Operations Research lens and breaking down the assembly line into its key components, the slowest point can be discovered. Once this point is discovered, a fix can be put in place that would eliminate this bottleneck and allow the assembly line to increase productivity.

The same Operations Research lens used to view the assembly line and break down the key components can be used in non-number related situations, such as leadership. An organization can have better leadership once the bottleneck is discovered and fixed. The leadership bottleneck is non-leadership roles, such as managers, encroaching on the leader’s responsibility.

Just like in the assembly line, no matter how good the leader is, he will not be able to succeed and thus the organization will not flourish without fixing this bottleneck. Managers create this issue because they feel they have all the needed information. When this information is not routinely gathered with face-to-face interactions, though, it is only partial and will lead to poor decisions and create a disconnection with the rest of the work force.

We have ‘Stone Age minds in a space-age universe’.
– An evolutionary psychologist caricature of humans. (Dunbar, 161)