The U.S. Military uses typical training techniques and modifies their delivery in order to turn an ordinary person into an extraordinary leader.
When we think of military training, sometimes we think of a drill sergeant screaming in the face of a new recruit. Although this does happen, the branches of the U.S. Military utilize some of the same techniques we use in corporate training – except the delivery is different. This delivery creates the extraordinary members of the U.S. military.
Many corporate organizations refer to their new hire programs as “boot camps” – it’s an appropriate nickname, but in theory only. A military boot camp, as well as a corporate one, uses accelerated learning techniques. A great deal of knowledge is crunched into a short period of time, but that’s where the similarities end. Military boot camps use shock value and “break down” techniques as a way to mold a recruit into someone else, while leaving the best characteristics of the person intact. According to one former member of the U.S. Navy, the boot camp formula is break down, instruction, and reinforcement – both negative and positive. The other element of training is adaptation – the military consistently adapts the training recruits receive in step with changes in the world. Perhaps that’s a page corporate training can take to heart.
There is a classroom element to military training in addition to simulation. In the classroom, recruits learn decision making, change management, and even history. The idea behind formal classrooms is to enforce decision making after knowledge. In fact, recruits are subjected to decision making simulations in which they must make the decision within a given time limit, taking into account what they already know, the needs of the team, and the needs of the individual. If we civilians look at this, we can see that knowledge is viewed as a potential weapon – another aspect that corporate training departments could put into use. Decision making is also enforced with trial and error through simulation. The drill sergeant in boot camp, for example, takes recruits through an obstacle course to explain it and set expectations. It’s then up to the recruits to figure out how to overcome their obstacles – and failure may occur more than once.
As a person makes his or her way through the ranks, commanding officers look for natural leaders and leaders that step up to say “I’m capable”. Leadership training is conducted in various combination’s, including basic, tactical, and developmental. All military training comes with a combination of lecture, proficiency testing, simulation, and evaluation. Many of these techniques are used in corporate environments, but how does the military produce such extraordinary members?
Consider the method in which training is delivered – through a shock and break down technique. Participants are given an explanation of what can happen to them in the real world if they don’t follow particular procedures – and punishments for being caught outside of procedures in training.
Boot camp training adapts to constantly changing world conditions – do we adapt our training regularly as our businesses change? Decision making is a great skill, but the military puts it into a time frame – you must make a decision, hopefully the right one, within a very short time period. Only if you prove your willingness and ability to lead are you tapped for advanced leadership study. The U.S. military takes normal training tactics and adapts them in order to squeeze out a person’s marginal qualities and leave the person’s best characteristics. Through constant simulation, evaluation, and testing, the military takes people and turns them into extraordinary soldiers – and leaders.