In light of our conversations on the muddling through nature of real-world management practice, a senior client manager sent me a copy of the US Marines' "Warfighting" manual. A colleague of his from another part of the business had brought it to his attention, following their own chat about the way that we think and talk about organization and leadership.
As he said in his note, there are many passages in the document that ring very true with what we've been talking about for many years.
Interestingly, too, the whole thing is written with a clear understanding of the socially complex and uncertain (i.e. wiggly) nature of the world. I also like the fact that the authors say that these principles apply just as much away from the front line as they do in the midst of battle.
The final paragraph of the "Nature of War" chapter gives a flavour of the congruence between the way in which the US Marines view the world and the complex social dynamics of organization, as discussed in this blog:
“Individual causes and their effects can rarely be isolated. Minor actions and random incidents can have disproportionately large—even decisive—effects. While dependent on the laws of science and the intuition and creativity of art, war takes its fundamental character from the dynamic of human interaction.”
And, underpinning this view, is recognition that:
" War is fundamentally an interactive social process... Human beings interact with each other in ways that are fundamentally different from the way a scientist works with chemicals or formulas or the way an artist works with paints or musical notes."
For war, read organization.