Friday, 2 September 2011


This is the dilemma armed forces face. In a uniformed service we choose to promote the uniformity of training, response, actions; in short everything. It is a virtual cloning. DSSC tells you that even letters have to be written a particular way: "I have the honour to state that we are not getting anywhere"etc. Then, suddenly, at a particular rank and seniority, we hope that some would still have some innovative grey matter left, and would be able to think out-of-the-box.

The ONLY solution is to separate the occasions that require uniformity from those that can be done in various ways, right from the beginning; say, if someone writes a Letter of Procedings like a blog we will not call him to task and use the "standard" armed forces response: "What s__t have you written?"

The entire thing arises from our sense of insecurity that if 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', it would be end of discipline in the armed forces; "For heavens sake, today, if we allow him do things differently, tomorrow there will be nothing left of our culture, traditions, and heritage."

Think about a simple thing like 'contact with foreign nationals'. Have we amended the Navy Order knowing that everytime you go on Internet you are in contact with foreign nationals? Or AC cars for Commodores and above only; knowing that these days, even if a Ag SubLt wants to buy a car, there is hardly any choice but to buy an AC car.

Are armed forces resistant to change but at the same time expect that its people would think out-of-the-box?

"Ah, but there is ample scope for innovativeness even in the strait-jacketed atmosphere of a hierarchical structure. Some officers really turn out to be innovative" is the oft heard refrain of some senior officers. The answer is, "Sir, we don't want a handful to become innovative. We want a larger percentage to be thinking out-of-the-box. And, in any case, Sir, those who turn out to be innovative do so not because of the system but despite the system."

We don't want out-of-box thinking as an accident or aberration. We want it as a norm. For this not only that we have to start thinking of it at fairly early stages (formative years) of officers careers; but, also send signals that it would be rewarded just as, if because of it, we land up into failure, we shall not do witch hunting.

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