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Military School

Military School

Military methods hold unexpected how-tos for corporate CIOs

Adapt and Survive

Being a successful military leader requires flexibility and adaptability to change - traits that suit IT leaders well too. Unisys CIO Carrow learned the importance of adaptability while fighting in the jungles of Vietnam."The things you practised in terms of motivation, strategy and tactics didn't mean much of anything in the live combat situation," Carrow says."You can make all the plans in the world, but when you're in the midst of it, it's your real-time reactions that count."

But adaptability doesn't mean aimlessness. What Carrow and others with military experience have learned is that your objective should never change, whether on the battlefield or in the boardroom."Let's say in the Army you plan to seize a target. There may be enemy forces, there may be terrain issues, or you may have to cross a river. You figure out how to overcome those obstacles and go after your target," Carrow says."The one thing you can be sure of is that the plan will change right away. The rivers may have swollen, there may be more enemy forces than you expected, and you have to adjust."

Carrow says he's faced the same type of situation time and again in business. Competitive issues come up, financial situations change, or resource and talent problems arise."All the plans a company has made may change. Look at what happened on September 11," he says.

Carrow still recalls being a West Point cadet and walking through a stone archway and seeing the words,"If you don't progress, you deteriorate." The statement is as true today as it was when West Point was built, he says. Every institution and every good leader - whether in the military or your company - must keep adapting to new realities.

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