Monday, April 16, 2007

Motivation in the Army

I recently went to a training program on leadership and we happened to discuss how organizations can learn from other industries other than their own and use what they learn to get creative with their own problem-solving endeavours. One of the examples that came up was how organizations could learn from the Army about motivating people. Though I appreciated the idea, I was under the impression that the Army would anyhow largely comprise motivated people. I wasn’t able to imagine people who were not passionate about protecting the country joining the Army – and I am talking about India (not countries where it is mandatory to at least temporarily serve the country as a member of the Army). So, I posed the question and was told by at least three people in the class that I was mistaken and that there are people who join the army because they can’t join elsewhere. That was mildly surprising. Moreover, since performance as a member of the army is literally a question of life or death unlike many other fields, aren’t people bound to be “good”? So, doesn’t that automatically make motivating people a job that – I am oversimplifying it a bit here - simply means telling them to perform or perish and let that fundamental rule sink in????

I need some views on this topic. I mean, do let me know what you think.


Matt Moore said...

Nimmy - Soldiers do not spend all their time in life or death situations. Friends of mine in the armed forces told me the most constant experience was one of boredom - the film "Jarhead" is accurate in this regard. I suspect the Indian Army is no different. It means a paycheck, you can hang out with the guys and hey - you get to carry a gun! Think of it as an extended arm of the civil service (without the strict literacy requirements).

The US armed forces have traditionally viewed their recruits as raw material to be moulded into something useful - to be enculturated. Hence they have spent a lot of money (probably more than another institution on the planet) examining how people learn. A suprising number of KM tools (such as AARs or Klein's work on decision-making) come from this source.

Nimmy said...

matt! thanks so much! i was, i am afraid, ignorant of some of the aspects you've shared! wow, if blogging leads me to continuous learning on these lines, i'd love it even more! :D please keep dropping your perspectives and views on my blog....really appreciate it! :)