Changing Minds In The Army: Why It Is So Difficult and What To Do About It
Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Gerras, Dr. Leonard Wong.
With the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army now finds itself in a time of extraordinary fiscal and national security uncertainty. In such an environment, it seems naïve, or at least overly optimistic, to assume that all, or even most, of a strategic leader’s current assumptions will be just as relevant several years into the future. It follows, then, that senior leaders may need to be willing to change their minds on important issues. History and organizational studies both demonstrate that changing one’s mind is quite difficult, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that this change needs to occur. This monograph explains how smart, professional, and incredibly performance-oriented Army senior leaders develop frames of reference and then oftentimes cling to their outdated frames in the face of new information. The monograph describes the influence of individual-level concepts—personality, cognitive dissonance reduction, the hardwiring of the brain, the imprints of early career events, and senior leader intuition—along with group level factors to explain how frames of reference are established, exercised, and rewarded. It concludes by offering recommendations to senior leaders on how to structure Army leader development systems to create leaders comfortable with changing their minds when the environment dictates.
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