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Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff's Leadership Using the Joint Strategic Planning System in the 1990s: Recommendations for Strategic Leaders

Authored by Dr. Richard M. Meinhart.

June 2003

61 Pages

Brief Synopsis

The Joint Strategic Planning System has been considered the primary formal means by which the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff executed his statutory responsibilities specified by Congress in Title 10 of the U.S. Code. Yet little has been written about this strategic planning system itself, although some of its products such as the varied National Military Strategies and Joint Visions have been thoroughly reviewed. One can gain great insight into the Chairman's formal leadership since the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act by understanding how this system evolved, reviewing its processes, and examining all of its products.

The author examines how three Chairmen--Generals Powell, Shalikashvili, and Shelton--adapted and used strategic planning to provide direction and shape the military in the rapidly changing strategic environment of the 1990s. He identifies five broad recommendations relevant to future leaders on how to use a strategic planning system to transform their organizations. These historic-based recommendations evolve around enduring strategic leadership competencies such as revolutionary versus evolutionary change, vision, flexibility versus bureaucracy, interpersonal relationships, and moral courage.

Summary

This monograph examines how the three Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff adapted and used the Joint Strategic Planning System from 1990 to 2000 to provide advice to the Secretary of Defense and to the President. This strategic planning system is the primary formal means by which the Chairman executes his statutory responsibilities specified by Congress in Title 10 U.S. Code. Understanding this strategic planning system’s evolution, reviewing its processes, and examining its products gives one great insight into how the three Chairmen provided direction that shaped the military to respond to the rapidly changing strategic environment of the 1990s. Senior leaders can learn from this comprehensive strategic planning and leadership review to enable them to better use a strategic planning system to transform their organizations for the future.

The monograph begins by reviewing the events leading to and the provisions of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, which expanded the Chairman’s responsibilities. The legislation’s discussion illustrates the challenges and expectations that a Chairman, using a strategic planning system, must meet in advising civilian leaders and executing decisions. The author then examines the four major revisions of this strategic planning system, as it changes from being rigid and focused on the Cold War to being more flexible, vision oriented, and resource focused by the decade’s end. The major strategic planning products are analyzed from both a content and process perspective to identify their formal advice and the Chairman’s leadership in developing them. These products, which cover subjects such as strategy, vision, resources, plans, and assessments, correspond to many of the Chairman’s formal statuary responsibilities.

The monograph then summarizes each Chairman’s strategic planning legacies. Based on these legacies, the author provides five broad recommendations for future senior leaders to enable them to better use a strategic planning system to transform their organizations. These recommendations center around the following: (1) Use of a strategic planning system for revolutionary change; (2) Use of a strategic planning system for evolutionary change; (3) Need for a senior leader’s vision to lead organizations; (4) Need for flexibility and bureaucracy balance for success in strategic planning; (5) Need for senior leader’s energy and moral courage to execute fundamental change.


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