Interview with Colonel Garry Hearn OBE, from The Defence Academy22-Mar-2017
Col Hearn has been involved in military training and education for the past ten years, commanding a college, leading a major transformation programme, and currently as a lead on officer leadership and strategy education at the UK Defence Academy. He regular presents at learning and development seminars in the UK and overseas, has authored a book on leadership, and guest lectures for universities in the UK. He has over thirty seven years military experience and was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to military education and innovation.
You will be speaking at ITEC 2017 on the topic of ‘New Problems, Old Theories, New Solutions: The need to think more imaginatively’. Can you give us a brief insight into the areas you will be covering?
“Setting oneself on a predetermined course in unknown waters, [which] is the perfect way to sail straight into an iceberg.” (Mintzberg, 1978)
On the 17th February 2015 CGS the professional head of the British Army, spoke at Chatham House of how the Army needed to re-think warfare. He outlined his view that warfare was now one in which the Army would operate in, “a franchise of ideas...where war is about minds not stuff.” His position is one that is supported by many across the continent of Europe and the US signify acknowledgement that the character of conflict has changed.
This presentation will therefore consider whether a change in the character of conflict requires completely new practices, processes, and procedures in the training environment, or new ways of thinking. It will use, theory, research, and evidence from military and non-military environments. It also considers the experiences of the commercial sector because it is a sector that has faced and coped with many of the challenges highlighted in the speech by CGS and others.
What can delegates expect to take away from your session?
The session will offer a view that the military training environment provides viable approaches to achieve learning outcomes but that in an unpredictable and complex world it needs to be fed by new thinking. Delegates will be offered a position and approaches which suggest that the answers to working in the ‘new’ unpredictable world can be found in old theories. Furthermore, that by accepting the old theories it can result in military personnel capable of operating effectively and comfortably in an environment where the character of conflict has changed. The session will suggest that the answers to the conundrum do not lay in wholesale change to training and education but in ensuring training and education unlocks all of the talent in the organisation through introducing practices and processes that release innovative thinking.
Key Take Away – It is not the existing training processes that are the difficulty in fighting in an unpredictable environment it is the thinking that feeds the processes. Therefore, introducing new training processes, equipment, and practices will fail to unlock the conundrum, it is new thinking that is the centre of gravity.