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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Kramlich, flag officers get information technology tips

By Colie Young | | October 12, 2000

The commander of Marine Corps Logistics Bases recently attended a 10-day technology course at the Naval Post-graduate Schools Center of Executive Education in Monterrey, Calif., that focused on the Department of Defenses revolution in implementing best practices.
Brig. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich reported that the primary emphasis of the program was to expose participants to new and emerging approaches to business process improvements and to provide a forum for debating the relevance and applicability of such ideas to the Department of the Navy.
Sponsored by Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Donald Pilling, the course was a balance between classroom instructions, seminar discussions and two days of visits to major Silicon Valley industries, according to Kramlich.
To keep everything on a level playing field, ground rules were established for industries visited, Kramlich said.
None of the industries represented were allowed to market their products. The intent was to gain information and insights from these private industries to determine if we can implement some of the same changes and improve critical areas within our environment.
Constant changes in the information technology environment of MarCorLogBases and its subordinate organizations seem imminent as the Marine Corps Materiel Command, LogBases and Systems Command seek improvement. Still, Kramlich finds that adopting change within the federal government, to include the DoD, is often more difficult than in private industry and is usually much slower.
Implementing new systems rapidly can be challenging, the commander admitted. In certain circumstances, it seems we tend to hang onto past decisions that prove to be erroneous, Kramlich said.
It is important for us to realize when we have to ignore a sunk cost so that we can implement a change to correct a situation and build for the future, he continued.
Sometimes an initial decision may have been the best way to go at the time it was made. But with shifting trends, that initial judgment may need to be changed or fixed later on.
The facilitators at the course discussed Moores Law, Kramlich continued. This concept suggests that computer capacity doubles every 18 months; therefore organizations must maintain flexibility if they are to be competitive.
Private industries are not as tied to government as they once were, Kramlich said.
Although private industry executives are attracted to the militarys traditional traits of leadership and loyalty, they express difficulty in doing business with the federal government because of the bureaucracy that exists, Kramlich added.
Web-based technology was one area shown where organizations such as the federal government could possibly avoid bureaucracy and reap immediate improvements, according to the facilitators, the commander said. Kramlich expressed interest in better using Log Bases web site and added team building and empowerment as other areas to explore for improvements.
Judging its value, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations envisions the course as a two-star capstone, which will allow general officers to broaden their horizons and stay in tune with new technology, he concluded.