Helping organizations imagine and navigate their future


The Chairman of the Joint Chief's Strategy Cell

In a windowless room off the Pentagon's E-ring, a small team works as personal advisors to the head of the U.S. military.  It was my privilege to lead the Chairman of the Joint Chief's strategy cell, helping the 18th Chairman, General Martin E. Dempsey, prepare for meetings with the President and Secretary of Defense.  Our job was to see things that others did not, to consider unexpected implications, and to seek out the adjacent possible.  During my tenure, we advised the Chairman on the conduct military operations worldwide and helped him prepare the military for a future in which cyber and technology will transform conflict.  Among other global events, we responded to the rise of ISIS, the Syrian regime's chemical attacks in Damascus, the outbreak of Ebola, and the revelations of Edward Snowden.

What resources should leaders have to help them navigate the present?

Strategic Planning in the Situation Room

As Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council, I led the NSC's Strategic Planning Small Group, which advises the President and National Security Advisor on strategic trends.  In partnership with the National Intelligence Council and CIA's Red Cell, we studied future trends and their implications for United States policy, presenting our findings to meetings of the National Security Council.  

Is your organization mapping its future strategic environment and the trends that will define it?  

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Ebola Crisis Management

Months before the Ebola outbreak threatened global security, I worked with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. military might have to fight the epidemic.  So began a two year adventure in that led me to work on Operation United Assistance, in which 3,000 U.S. troops deployed to West Africa, the White House Ebola Task Force, and to author the National Security Council's after-action report on the U.S. response.  The outbreak, from start to finish, is a case study in crisis management and of the U.S. government as a learning organization.

Is your organization ready to respond to the unforeseen?