There were three commanding officers during the administrative
duties of my tour of duty in the Army; two articulate West Point trained CO’s and a rugged highly decorated combat CO.
The common denominator being the philosophy that “personal abilities notwithstanding, the best leaders are those that
can bring out the best under their command”. This and the abilities to sell, to teach, and to mentor are invaluable
During a Data Processing Section meeting, I was the lone dissenting voice to the
query by the Service Center’s commanding officer, “if everyone was in accord that the Fifth Army Command Operating
Budget (COB) would require 9 to 12 months to be automated?”; the position taken by the acting director and his assistants.
After I made some caustic criticism of the methodology presented. The CO then asked me to step outside for a “private
He admonished, “we were prepared to package this requirement, and mark it
‘insufficient time to comply’ since the Budget must be done by the end of the fiscal year in six months.
The units will begin their manual procedures in a month. So was it stupidity, arrogance, or an ill advised sense of humor
that made you take such a position. I have seen your work and you are far from stupid, but you do have an abundance of the
other qualities that I mentioned.” “So Specialist Hill what have you got?” the end of my enlistment was
approaching and I was undecided as to whether I would extend and become an officer, take a lucrative civil service position,
or enter the private sector.
I replied, “Nothing definitive other than the notes
I took during the meeting; Sir.”
He proceeded after several expletives, “I have a policy
that you should be aware of, which is ---- if you criticize a plan, you should have an alternate method of approach or explicit
details of the inadequacy to the proposition.” “I am going to adjourn this meeting until tomorrow; be prepared
to give YOUR plan”.
There were comments (derisive, jocular, and supportive) by cadre,
and soldiers did what soldiers do ---- establish a secret betting pool as to whether I would get “shot down”.
When the odds dropped from a high of 20 to 1 against to a low of 4 to 1; I discreetly placed a $20.00 bet through an intermediary
and publicly placed a ‘reluctant’ one dollar wager. The odds went up and settled in at 12 to 1; an old gamblers
adage applies, “The big possums walk late”.
After some words
of encouragement and the current requirements were given to me by the executive secretary I outlined the methodology to be
used. Four months, six work day weeks with 10-14 hour days later the development phase was completed. Implementation went
down to the wire due to submission of data from some traditionally slow reporting units. The success of this project can be
measured by the number of spin-offs and individuals who subsequently claimed authorship; victory has many fathers, but defeat
is an orphan. The reality ---- a team worked to its potential and an individual replaced a lot of arrogance with a little