ArticlePDF Available

Developing Creative and Critical Thinkers



This article presents a definition of strategic thinking and then focuses on the two key antecedents of strategic thinking-creative and critical thinking-and presents the Army War College approach to educating students in these skills. Strategic thinking is the ability to make a creative and holistic synthesis of key factors affecting an organization and its environment in order to obtain sustainable competitive advantage and long-term success. Strategic thinking meshes anticipated requirements with future organizational capabilities to ensure the organization "wins" in the future. Examples of failures in strategic thinking abound. They include the recent failures of U.S. auto companies to understand the key factors facing their industry. Of greater significance is our own failure of strategic thinking in the formulation and acceptance of the many pre-war assumptions about Iraq. The core elements of strategic thinking are the ability to think creatively and critically about national security issues. We believe research in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and decision making can and should inform the Army's calculus for developing strategic-thinking skills.
77MILITARY REVIEW November-December 2009
Charles D. Allen is currently professor
of cultural science in the Depart-
ment of Command, Leadership, and
Management at the U.S. Army War
College, Carlisle Barracks, PA. He
holds a B.S. from the U.S. Military
Academy, an M.S. from Georgia
Tech, an MMAS from the School of
Advanced Military Studies, and a
masters in strategic studies from the
U.S. Army War College.
Stephen J. Gerras is a professor of
behavioral sciences in the Depart-
ment of Command, Leadership, and
Management at U.S. Army War Col-
lege, Carlisle Barracks, PA. He holds
a masters in strategic studies from
the U.S. Army War College and a B.S.
from the U.S. Military Academy and an
M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania
State University.
Colonel Charles D. Allen, U.S. Army, Retired; and
Colonel Stephen J. Gerras, Ph.D., U.S. Army, Retired
IN APRIL 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited each of the senior
service colleges to present his rationale for budget recommendations to
the president. We can infer that his purpose was to communicate the criti-
cal priorities for the Fiscal Year 2010 national defense budget directly to
emerging armed services senior leaders.1 His FY 2010 recommendations
challenged the existing advice and direction of the service leaders and would
result in the cutting of major weapon systems.
In explaining his concerns about the Future Combat System (FCS), Sec-
retary Gates related a conversation he had with the senior Army leadership
about the design of the FCS variant of the infantry ghting vehicle. The
vehicle had a clearance of 18 inches from the ground and a at bottom hull.
His comment was stark: the design revealed, “No lessons learned.”2 The
strategic investment in the FCS program had produced an inherently awed
vehicle. His message was clear: “What were we thinking?”
Several contemporary books and articles question our leaders’ abilities to
think strategically about the challenges we face after 9-11. Tom Rick’s Fiasco
and Bob Woodward’s The War Within are outsider accounts of ineffective
policy- and strategy-making by senior civilian and military leaders. Chair-
man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen stressed the need to
“think ahead at the strategy level” in his guidance to the Joint Staff because
we were “still more reactive than anticipatory.”3 Some within the Army have
also cited the lack of strategic thinking. (See Paul Yingling’s “A Failure in
Generalship;” Steve Gerras’ “The Army as a Learning Organization;” and at
the institutional level, David A. Fastabend and Robert H. Simpson’s “Adapt
or Die.”)4 Several senior leaders have touted the innovations in the opera-
tional force, but pointed to ineffective strategies and failures of institutional
processes within the Department of Defense.5 These leaders have observed
that we were too busy to think, that we failed to see the big picture, and that
our decision making was faulty.
Many senior Army and DOD leaders have said we need to develop better
strategic thinking skills for the 21st century security environment.6 The
requirement stems from a realization that the complexity, uncertainty, and
ambiguity of the current environment mandates a move away from Cold
War methodologies and assumptions. As recent history suggests, a large
gap exists between the Army’s desire to develop strategic thinking skills
and what actually happens.7
This article presents a denition of strategic thinking and then focuses on the
two key antecedents of strategic thinking—creative and critical thinking—and
Report Documentation Page Form Approved
OMB No. 0704-0188
Public reporting burden for the collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and
maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information,
including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington
VA 22202-4302. Respondents should be aware that notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to a penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information if it
does not display a currently valid OMB control number.
00-11-2009 to 00-12-2009
Developing Creative and Critical Thinkers 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER
U.S. Army Combined Arms Center,Fort Leavenworth,KS,66027 8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION
Approved for public release; distribution unlimited
Same as
Report (SAR)
19a. NAME OF
unclassified b. ABSTRACT
unclassified c. THIS PAGE
Standard Form 298 (Rev. 8-98)
Prescribed by ANSI Std Z39-18
78 November-December 2009 MILITARY REVIEW
presents the Army War College approach to educating
students in these skills.
Strategic thinking is the ability to make a creative
and holistic synthesis of key factors affecting an
organization and its environment in order to obtain
sustainable competitive advantage and long-term
success. Strategic thinking meshes anticipated
requirements with future organizational capabili-
ties to ensure the organization “wins” in the future.
Examples of failures in strategic thinking abound.
They include the recent failures of U.S. auto
companies to understand the key factors facing
their industry. Of greater signicance is our own
failure of strategic thinking in the formulation and
acceptance of the many pre-war assumptions about
Iraq. The core elements of strategic thinking are
the ability to think creatively and critically about
national security issues. We believe research in
cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and decision
making can and should inform the Army’s calculus
for developing strategic-thinking skills.
Creative and Critical Thinking
in the Army
We believe that providing students with the fun-
damentals of how to think about the challenges at
the strategic level is vitally important because of
the unpredictability of both the internal and external
environments in which we operate. Consequently,
our senior leadership must be skilled in developing
and applying creative strategies to circumstances
about which we have limited current knowledge
or understanding. Creative thinking, therefore, is a
critical element of strategic thought and is necessary
for successful leadership of our military.
Creativity is the ability to produce novel ideas that
others value. Individuals, groups, and organizations
at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels need to
be creative to provide new and effective approaches
to challenges and understand the interaction between
an organization and its external environment. The
national security and contemporary operating
environments are inherently volatile, uncertain,
complex, and ambiguous.8 Operating effectively
requires leaders who have the sophisticated cognitive
skills appropriate for the multiple demands of such
environments. They must learn quickly, adapt when
necessary, anticipate the future, be mentally agile and
versatile, and look at issues in the correct contexts.9
Creativity requires developing new ideas and
concepts that are effective in resolving situations
at hand. Creativity is as much about observing
the internal and external environment and nding
problems as it is about problem solving. Particu-
larly at the strategic level, we must be sensitive to
how we even dene problems, since very often the
specicity or breadth of the problem statement will
limit the generation of viable solutions. The terms
“novelty,” “quality,” and “appropriateness” are
commonly used in denitions of creativity. These
terms apply equally to problem denition as to the
other components of decision-making processes.
Creative thinking is a cognitive process that sup-
ports divergent and convergent aspects of problem
solving and decision making. Thinking creatively
provides a means to identify that a problem exists
and, therefore, helps with problem denition. It also
gives rise to the generation of multiple alternatives
and a range of options in this divergent component.
Through the application of critical thinking, alter-
natives are analyzed and judged for effectiveness
and appropriateness in solving the problem. The
convergence on the problem solution results in a
decision for implementation. However, our predi-
lection for quick answers and easy solutions hinders
the process of divergent and convergent thinking.
Our profession requires its leaders to be not only
creative but also critical thinkers. Creative out of
necessity, and motivated out of desperation, our
adversaries rapidly adapt to changing circumstances.
Our enemies will be creative, so we must be, too.
Creativity and innovation must inform senior leaders
in critically deciding what to do and how to do it.
As Professor Diane Halpern notes, “Critical thinking
is the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that
increase the probability of a desirable outcome. It is
used to describe thinking that is purposeful, reasoned,
and goal directed.”10 In essence, critical thinking is
about using processes to evaluate and select informa-
tion in order to improve one’s judgment and make
better decisions. While this paper does not outline the
critical-thinking process, there are good references
for detailed analysis of how to do critical thinking.11
…our adversaries rapidly adapt
to changing circumstances.
79MILITARY REVIEW November-December 2009
How do we develop these judgment skills in
Army leaders? In the academic context, one way
is to teach logic and reasoning skills that are typi-
cally the focus of philosophy. A second way is to
emphasize questioning and self-reection skills that
are usually the focus of education and psychology.12
One can apply these methods in an environment
that is context-free or context-dependent. Context-
free development focuses on teaching thinking skills
irrespective of a specic subject. Context-dependent
development centers on teaching the same skills
for a eld of study. Based on our experiences at the
War College, we think the best way to teach critical
thinking skills to military leaders is to provide con-
text-dependent skill development that incorporates
philosophy’s focus on critical thinking and education
and psychology’s focus on self-examination.
We argue that we can best develop strategic
thinking skills if we—
Use a multidisciplinary perspective to provide
knowledge about thinking skills.
Practice applying these skills in a context-
dependent setting under the purview of a knowl-
edgeable leader or facilitator.
Encourage and motivate the routinely applica-
tion of strategic thinking skills to important issues by
creating a healthy environment in schools and units.
Critical Thinking—
the Good and Bad News
The Army has some structural and cultural pro-
cesses and norms that facilitate critical thinking.
The military decision-making process is a rational,
methodological approach for making decisions. The
joint operation planning process uses it for tactical
planning. Followed correctly, it should lead to the
best (or at least a better) decision given the degree
of uncertainty and complexity of the situation. The
challenge is that a wide range of opportunities for
failure in critical thinking and a bad decision accom-
pany each step of the military decision-making
process. From receiving the commander’s initial
guidance to generating courses of action, from
evaluating courses of action to listing assumptions,
innate biases and fallacious reasoning can lead the
decision-maker astray. The availability heuristic
(recalling the most vivid events) and egocentric-
ity (thinking one’s beliefs are better than anyone
else’s) can lead the unit down the wrong road if the
commander thinks his intuition is infallible and that
the last way he dealt with a problem will work in
the next case. At the end of the day, a leader must
appreciate not only the value of the process, but
also the importance of critical thinking.
The U.S. military has other attributes that facilitate
critical thinking. For one, the military is extremely
diverse. Rich and poor; black, brown, and white;
Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and non-believers serve
in the U.S. military. Diversity of thought can remove
some obstacles to critical thinking and supports cre-
ativity and the cultivation of innovative solutions to
pressing problems. Of course, the success inherent in
leveraging diverse viewpoints and opinions depends
on the commander’s ability to listen to them.
Unfortunately, the combination of the Army’s
diversity and its emphasis on the military decision
making process does not seem to be overcoming the
challenges the Army faces as it attempts to become
better at strategic thinking. The Army’s biggest
obstacle is its hierarchical nature and cultural norms.
Reective skepticism as a technique to improve judg-
ment and decision making is difcult to embrace if
ofcers or NCOs are not comfortable disagreeing
with the boss, or even the boss’s boss.This is espe-
cially difcult if senior leaders have egocentric ten-
dencies toward extreme self-condence because of
numerous accolades and promotions. Unfortunately,
leaders who have not taken careful steps to ensure the
information they receive from their subordinates is
“ground truth,” even if it disagrees with their view,
seem to be more the rule than the exception.
Because of its preeminence among the world’s
land forces, the Army has developed the ethno-
centric view that the Army way is the best way.
The impact of this ethnocentric (in addition to
egocentric) view of the world is that the Army
often struggles with cultural awareness, which is
an artifact of faulty critical thinking. The intense
focus of the Army recently on developing culture-
savvy ofcers testies to this shortcoming as well
as a step toward meaningful change.
Diversity of thought can
remove some obstacles to
critical thinking…
80 November-December 2009 MILITARY REVIEW
An often overlooked requirement for success-
ful creative and critical thinking is the concept of
dialogue. The Army’s hierarchical nature resists
dialogue. Dr. Peter Senge asserts, “There are two
primary types of discourse: dialogue and discussion.
Both are important to a team capable of continual
generative learning, but their power lies in their
synergy, which is not likely to be present when the
distinctions between them are not appreciated.”13 If
commanders and leaders are more interested in dis-
cussion than real dialogue, they reduce opportunities
to challenge personal assumptions. Several things
must occur for dialogue to begin in a command
and staff meeting, a troop unit, or staff group at the
Captain’s Career Course. Most important among
these is the requirement that participants regard each
other as professional colleagues, not subordinates
and superiors. In addition, someone must serve as
a facilitator who “holds the context” of dialogue.14
In Adapt or Die, Fastabend and Simpson posit,
“Critical thinking is also an aspect of environment.
To foster critical thinking, Army teams must at times
leave rank at the door. ‘Groupthink’ is the antithesis
of [creative and] critical thinking and exists in orga-
nizations in which subordinates simply mimic the
thinking of their superiors.”15 To develop its critical-
thinking capability, the Army must educate, train and
select ofcers comfortable with putting their position
power (i.e., their rank) to the side to facilitate better
judgment through reective skepticism. Jim Collins
in Good to Great found that the leadership in great
companies was not only about vision, it was “equally
about creating a climate where truth is heard and
brutal facts confronted. There is a huge difference
between the opportunity to ‘have your say’ and the
opportunity to be heard. The good-to-great leaders
understood this distinction, creating a culture wherein
people had a tremendous opportunity to be heard and,
ultimately, for the truth to be heard.”16 This require-
ment applies not only to unit leaders but also to
facilitators and instructors in the educational system.
How to Improve
Given these challenges and obstacles, how do we
make Army leaders better at creative and critical
thinking? First, we must teach leaders the knowledge,
skills, and terminology associated with thinking com-
petencies. These are acquirable intellectual skills. As
suggested earlier, the best way to teach thinking skills
to Army leaders is to provide context-dependent skill
development. Ofcers need to learn these thinking
skills within the Ofcer Education System in Train-
ing and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). The real
meat of strategic thinking development, however,
will occur as TRADOC instructors and facilitators
highlight strategic thinking opportunities in the vast
array of topics in the TRADOC curriculum.
This recommendation, however, has one single but
critical antecedent to success. First, TRADOC should
develop in its instructors the requisite skills to enable
strategic thinking in a context-dependent environment.
Most important among these is the ability to facilitate
dialogue. TRADOC instructors should understand
when it is appropriate to offer direct presentation of
information (lectures and demonstrations); when it is
best to have a discussion; and most importantly, when
to facilitate a context-dependent dialogue to develop
conceptual skills. Second, not only does TRADOC
need to develop the facilitation skills of its instructors,
it needs to select instructors that have the background,
intelligence, and requisite knowledge, skills, and abili-
ties to ensure success. Such changes would raise the
quality of TRADOC instruction.17
Not fully appreciated is the secondary effect of a
strong TRADOC climate: its graduates will report
to troop units where they can model these behaviors
when they discuss complex issues. As Fastabend
and Simpson note, “Army leaders must create an
environment where critical thinking is the norm and
reasoned debate replaces unspoken dissent. Critical
thinking is a learned behavior that is underpinned by
education. The Army education system . . . can be
our most effective lever of cultural change. Many
of our most important cultural shifts can trace their
origins to the school house.”18
Of course, Army ofcers will not immediately
pin on the eagles of colonels and become strategic
thinkers upon selection for a senior level college.
Hence, we have the Adaptive Leaders Course as part
of professional military ethics and the Basic Ofcer
Army leaders must create an
environment where critical thinking
is the norm and reasoned debate
replaces unspoken dissent.
81MILITARY REVIEW November-December 2009
Leadership Courses (I-III) for pre-commissioning
sources and the initial training programs, whose
goal is to develop ofcers with adaptive capaci-
ties and mental agility early in their careers.19 The
Intermediate Level Education course at Fort
Leavenworth includes lessons in both creative
thinking and critical thinking in its L100 Leadership
block of instruction. Junior eld grade ofcers gain
understanding of these thinking skills and have the
opportunity to apply them effectively in operational
assignments after graduation.
The thinking skill development that should occur
in troop assignments will happen only if the culture
of the Army begins to place a high value on it. Within
the constraints of the Army force generation model,
it simply makes sense that during the rst year of the
reset cycle, new battalion and brigade commanders
and their subordinates should attend further facilitated
training. Such training should focus on developing
creative and critical thinking skills as well as maintain-
ing a climate that facilitates dialogue. Opportunities
to apply creative thought and critical analysis are
ubiquitous in our current tactical and operational envi-
ronments; we see them daily in media reports from the
eld. If the Army really cares about strategic thinking,
it must devote time and resources to its development.
The War College Approach
The Army War College has long recognized the
need to educate its students in creative and critical
thinking skills, but has struggled with nding the
best way to introduce the material and develop
competencies. For several years, the two topics
were presented in a combined lesson during the
core curriculum. Through the after-action review
process, we realized that the single lesson either
covered one topic in detail while giving short shrift
to the other, or that both topics were addressed
supercially. The realization fortunately coincided
with a core curriculum revision that mandated a ten-
day core course on strategic thinking in academic
year 2006. The new course incorporated a full
lesson for both creative and critical thinking. The
intent was to introduce students to the concepts of
creative and critical thinking early in the academic
year so they could be applied in seminar discussions
throughout the remainder of the year. In order to
develop as critical and creative thinkers, students
not only have to learn the concepts, they must
practice applying the concepts under the watchful
eye of an experienced facilitator.
The survey lessons provided are context-depen-
dent. The seminar sessions begin with a presentation
by the faculty of the key concepts and predominant
models (Table 1) to ensure that students have the
foundational knowledge and a frame of reference
for the topics. Within each session, a brief exercise
gives students the opportunity to apply the concepts
followed by an after-action review facilitated by
the faculty to draw out the salient points. This
Table 1. Elective objectives.
To provide the student with a greater
understanding of the individual and group
creative problem solving processes.
To increase the student’s ability to be
innovative and creative in an environ-
ment marked by ambiguity, complexity,
and change.
To increase the student’s awareness of
and appreciation for the competencies
required by a strategic thinker.
To comprehend the wide range of critical-
thinking skills relevant to strategic
To comprehend the importance of reec-
tion and self-awareness to identify the
impact of biases, assumptions, fallacious
reasoning, and egocentric thinking on the
decisions we make as strategic leaders.
To apply critical-thinking skills to
real-world situations such as current
events, strategic decision making, and
ethical challenges.
82 November-December 2009 MILITARY REVIEW
questioning and reection reinforces development
of the thinking skill.
The Army War College also offers separate elective
courses in these topic areas taught by faculty subject
matter experts. While the lesson and elective course
objectives (Table 1) are different, the scopes of the
elective offerings are essentially the same. The cre-
ative-thinking elective is a senior leader-level course
to help students deal with the issues and problems
they are likely to encounter that require creative and
innovative solutions. This course uses exercises that
present unusual and challenging situations requir-
ing creative solutions. The applicability of creative
problem-solving techniques to strategic issues such
as defense policy and domestic security is exam-
ined. Similarly, the critical-thinking elective aims to
enhance the development and application of critical-
thinking skills to analyze and evaluate complex issues
and identify and argue the underlying assumptions
that provide the foundation of strategic dialogue. The
course develops students’ critical-reasoning skills.
In each course, multiple perspectives give stu-
dents a foundation in the concepts and theories of
these cognitive skills. In each seminar session, there
is an opportunity to test the concepts and conrm
“proof of principle” through several methods.
The electives’ early lessons aim to develop self-
awareness and specic thinking skills that support
more complex application later in the courses. For
the creative-thinking elective, students complete
instruments like the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator,20
the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Instrument,21 and
Belbin’s Team Roles22 that reveal their prefer-
ences for creative styles as individuals and provide
insights into their behavior within groups—either
as members or leaders. In-seminar exercises dem-
onstrate the concepts in action for individuals and
teams. An example is a project planning simulation
that demonstrates the improvement in creativity and
decision quality by groups.23
In addition to in-house faculty, we offer the per-
spectives of visiting outside scholars and practitioners
for topics such as strategic intuition and climate for
innovation. The diversity of thought and material
demonstrates the value of tapping into non-conven-
tional (civilian) sources to nd ideas that may have
applicability for military problem sets. For each ses-
sion in the creative-thinking elective, students make
journal entries to capture their personal reections on
the concepts presented and assess their relevance to
their past experiences and future positions.
Case studies are incorporated that present histori-
cal events and tough issues that require strategic
thinking—creative and critical—to discern areas of
concerns and underlying causes. Students attempt to
dene the problem and then examine the potential
solutions. In the academic year 2010 core curricu-
lum, we piloted such a case study using the endur-
ing Palestinian-Israeli conict. For the integrative
lesson, students were required to use concepts
from creative and critical thinking to gain a holistic
appreciation of the complexity of the problem and
the many perspectives that have thwarted solutions
over the past half-century.
In the critical-thinking elective, students adopt
the lens of strategic decision-makers in a variety of
Student Seminar 7 during the Theater Strategy and Campaigning course in the U.S. Army War College core curriculum.
December 2008 to January 2009.
83MILITARY REVIEW November-December 2009
selected cases and scenarios that require the appli-
cation of a model of critical thinking, along with
additional tools and techniques to develop a rich
understanding of the benets and challenges of apply-
ing critical-thinking methods to realistic scenarios.
Students also choose contemporary cases and make
presentations on strategic-level military issues such
as Pakistan and North Korea in order to examine
points of view and underlying assumptions. In addi-
tion, other issues outside our students’ traditional
comfort areas, like education reform in America and
the national nancial crisis, lead to rich discussions.
How do we know that our approach to educat-
ing our students on strategic thinking works? The
short answer is that we don’t. We do, however,
have end-of-course surveys and anecdotal com-
ments from our graduates in the eld that suggest
they are better prepared to operate at the strategic
level in the operational and institutional force.
Both creative and critical thinking are among
topics governmental, educational, nonprot, and
corporate organizations request for workshops and
the Senior Leadership Staff Ride program. Clearly,
once exposed to the concepts of strategic thinking,
people see value in it.
The continued development of strategic-thinking
skills is imperative for a successful Army. Issues
currently facing the military will also benet sig-
nicantly from the application of strategic-thinking
competencies. First, creative and out-of-the-box
ideas are essential to success as the Army strives
to develop a culture of innovation across the force,
but only to the extent that critical thinking is applied
to those ideas to reach viable solutions to complex
issues. Creative thinking involves a divergence of
thought. Critical thinking involves a convergence
and analysis of thought to weed through poor ideas
and identify the good ones. Creative thinking tends
to be wasteful of time and energy without critical
thinking. Without creative thinking, potential solu-
tions may never be explored or discovered. Our
leaders must recognize and acknowledge their natu-
ral shortcomings in strategic thinking and then take
action to encourage the essential skills of creative
and critical thinking.
Empowered subordinates will contribute to the
decision-making process as Army leaders learn how
to facilitate dialogue to encourage creative and criti-
cal thinking. Most studies on decision making show
the benet of collecting various points of view and
perspectives. The overall quality of the nal deci-
sion and its implementation improves. Numerous
studies also show that empowered subordinates
enjoy higher job satisfaction and have a stronger
desire to remain in the military.24 The context for the
Army is not getting simpler. Sophisticated decision
making must accompany sophisticated understand-
ing. The application of the strategic-thinking skills
will begin to move our leaders, and our Army, in
that direction. MR
1. Robert M. Gates, “Speech to USAWC,” DVD recording (Carlisle Barracks, PA:
U.S. Army War College, 16 April 2009).
2. Ibid.
3. Michael Mullen, CJCS Guidance for 2008-2009 (Washington, D.C: U.S. Gov-
ernment Printing Ofce, 2008), <les/2009-03/031009163310_
CJCS_Guidance_for_2008_2009.pdf> (7 May 2009).
4. Paul Yingling, “A Failure in Generalship” Armed Forces Journal, (May 2007);
Stephen Gerras, “The Army as a Learning Organization” Strategy Research Paper
(Carlisle Barracks PA: U.S. Army War College, 2002); David A. Fastabend and Robert
H. Simpson, “Adapt or Die: The Imperative for a Culture of Innovation in the United
States Army,” Army, February 2004, 14-25.
5. Hence, the need for revised U.S. military strategies. For example see “Remarks
by the President on a New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan” (Washington,
D.C.: The White House, 27 March 2009), <ce/
Remarks-by-the-President-on-a-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/> (2
June 2009).
6. Association of the United States Army, Torchbearer National Security Report
(Arlington, VA: Institute of Land Warfare, Association of the United States Army,
March 2005), 21.
7. Based on Stephen Gerras, “Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking: A Funda-
mental Guide for Strategic Leaders” (Carlisle Barracks: U.S. Army War College, 2008).
8. Stephen A Shambach, ed., “The Strategic Environment,” in Strategic Leader-
ship Primer, 2d ed. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College, 2004), 12-14.
9. Based on Charles D. Allen, “Creative Thinking for Individuals and Groups: An
Essay on Creative Thinking for Military Professionals” (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S.
Army War College, 2008).
10. Diane F. Halpern, Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking,
4th ed. (Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003), 6.
11. For example, see Gerras (2008).
12. A good example of this perspective is presented in Richard Paul and Linda
Elder, Critical Thinking, Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001).
13. Senge, 240.
14. Ibid., 243.
15. Fastabend and Simpson, 21.
16. Jim Collins, Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and
Others Don’t (New York: Harper Business, 2001), 74.
17. Jeff McNally, Stephen J. Gerras, and R. Craig Bullis, “Teaching Leadership
at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sci-
ence, 32 (2), 1996, 175-89.
18. Ibid., 21.
19. Donald E. Vandergriff, “Adaptive Leaders Course; Old Dogs Teaching New
Tricks,” Army (December 2007): 49-62.
20. Otto Kroeger, Janet M. Thuesen, and Hile Rutledge, Type Talk at Work: How
the personality types determine your success on the job (New York: Dell Publish-
ing, 2002).
21. Michael J. Kirton, Adaption-Innovation in the Context of Diversity and Change
(New York: Routledge, 2003).
22. R.M. Belbin, “Team roles and a self-perception inventory,” in The Effective
Manager: Perspectives and Illustrations, ed. Jon Billsberry (London: Open University
Press, 1996).
23. For information see “Project Planning Situation,” Human Synergistics Inter-
national, <> (8 May 2009).
24. Katherine I. Miller and Peter R. Monge, “Participation, Satisfaction, and Pro-
ductivity: A Meta-analytic Review,” in Leaders and The Leadership Process, 4th ed.,
edited by Jon L. Pierce and John W. Newstrom (Boston, McGraw-Hill, 2006), 314.
... Next, Item 3 received a high agreement level from the respondents. Despite the ability to generate ideas from their own experience and knowledge, individuals with creative thinking skill can also obtain ideas from their surroundings (Allen and Gerras, 2009), thus enabling them to identify the perfect solution to any difficulties experienced in the future. Besides, Item 4 had the highest percentage of agreed respondents (90.1%). ...
Full-text available
The recent emphasis on refining the quality of higher education has incited insightful debates about numerous education reforms. Due to the demands of our ever-changing world, many institutions have begun to embed the 21st century skills into the curriculum design to better prepare the students for workplace success and lifelong career development. Despite its importance, there are disparities in regards to establishing an in-depth understanding of its significance. Thus, this study is aimed to investigate the perspective of undergraduate students in Malaysia on the importance of the 21st century skills for career readiness This study employed the quantitative research design wherein purposive sampling was utilized. The findings assert that data literacy is an essential skill to excel in the workplace, and similarly, problem-solving skill helps develop critical thinking skill, which contribute to the development of creative thinking skill. Recommendations are further deliberated.
... The Military Decision-Making Process is the rational-methodological tool used by military personnel to solve tactical problems and make military plans and represents the Army's formal methodology for making tactical decisions (Burwell, 2001). When followed correctly it should "lead to the best (or at least a better) decision given the degree of uncertainty and complexity of the situation" (Allen & Gerras, 2009). The problem, however, is that often in military situations, there is no best option, and instead they much choose the least-worst . ...
Full-text available
The present study investigates the role maximization plays in explaining individual differences in decision-making in high-uncertainty situations. There is a wealth of evidence that maximization affects decision-making, yet the types of decisions that have been studied have been consumer-focused. Despite the known importance of maximization, the boundaries of maximization have not been explored. This research extends the study of maximization by evidencing that individual differences in maximization influence decision-making with a sample of military personnel (n = 287) when they make both military (domain specific) and non-military (domain general) decisions. Furthermore, taxometric analysis allowed the researchers to explore the latent structure of maximization, identifying that it can also be conceptualized as a categorical (rather than a traditionally continuous) variable. Overall, high maximizers found decisions more difficult, were slower to choose an option and decide. These findings are in accord with a wealth of previous research on the effects of max-imization, but demonstrate that the effect of maximization extends to applied decision-making with applied samples who make decisions in high-uncertainty situations. These findings have important theoretical implications for the study of maximization and the study of decision-making under uncertainty, as well as applied implications for issues such as personnel selection.
... Coordinated action must be achieved through the establishment of common intent (Pigeau and McCann, 2000). Commanders are tasked with making sound judgments and decisions while facing complex problems in unpredictable situations (Crabbe, 2000), so highly sophisticated cognitive skills are required to support commanders' ability to form achievable intent (Allen and Gerras, 2009). Increasingly, decision-making authority is dispersed to lower ranks as increasing warfare dynamism requires a higher level of decision making immediacy to exploit time-limited tactical opportunities (i.e., "mission command"; Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2012; Australian Army, 2017). ...
Full-text available
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique which provides unique potential to directly improve human capability on a temporary, at needs, basis. The purpose of this paper is to consider the utility of tDCS through analysis of the potential risks and benefits in the context of defence service personnel. First, we look at the potential benefits, focusing primarily on warfighter survivability and enriching cognition quality in support of command and control. Second, we look at the potential detriments to tDCS military use, focusing on adverse effects, safety considerations, and risk. Third, we examine how the level of risk can be mitigated through military doctrine development focusing on safety parameters and exclusion criteria. Finally, we explore the future prospects of military tDCS use, particularly in terms of addressing gaps in the literature so that tDCS can be used ethically and efficaciously at the level of individual personnel.
... Moreover, the collected information should be sequenced and presented in such a manner that it forms a coherent and cohesive whole, entailing the application of creative skills, thereby sitting on the penultimate level of Bloom's taxonomy "synthesis". When applied to a real-time military context, individuals, groups, and organizations at the tactical and strategic levels are frequently required to use sophisticated cognitive skills to provide creative and effective solutions to a number of demands and complex challenges (Allen & Gerras, 2009). ...
Full-text available
This paper critically reviews the pedagogical benefits and obstacles to applying CALL to military English learning in terms of the theories associated with CALL. The obstacles that hinder effective CALL practice in military settings can be attributable to a) a long-held behavioristic tradition for language learning such as rote memorization and repetitive drilling; b) the antithesis of traditional military sentiment against the shift of learning responsibility from the military to individuals; and c) military instructors who may be incapable of implementing effective CALL practice because of their own preconceptions, backgrounds and established skill sets. However, properly implemented CALL not only prepares learners linguistically and culturally for participating in multinational military operations, but also provides learners with peer support opportunities where they can cooperate with their peers to achieve more than what they are capable of and enhance their interpersonal communication required in the military. CALL also benefits learners by enabling them to monitor their progress and promoting critical thinking.
... College redesigned the curriculum to begin "teaching for thinking" (Eichhorn, ND). By 2006, the Army War College followed suit, revamped the curriculum to include critical and creative thinking (Allen & Gerras, 2009). Critical and creative thinking are now the bedrock for Army education including the Civilian Education System. ...
Full-text available
The research develops a model of Army innovation that follows theories on the Social Shaping of Technology. This model highlights the societal forces (cultural, institutional, economic, and social) that influence innovation. The research then examines institutional barriers to innovation by analyzing the content and staffing requirements for developing a Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP). By compounding the content requirements, starting with Department of Defense requirements and working down to Program Executive Office requirements, and determining the type and formality of the requirements will lead to a conclusion on the coercive or enabling nature of the overall requirements. Compounding the staffing requirements with the content requirements creates a composite analysis of the coercive nature of these requirements for development of the TEMP. The research also looks at cultural barriers that effect a team’s group intelligence or ability to learn together. Recommendations include balancing staffing and content requirements and creating a culture of psychological safety.
When understanding how members of the armed forces make decisions in war current military doctrine centers on the military decision-making process (MDMP) – a linear process of identifying, evaluating and choosing the best course of action, while wider theoretical contributions focus on recognition prime models (RPD) of decision-making. In this article, we argue that the SAFE-T model of critical incident decision-making can elucidate the process of decision-making during military operations. The SAFE-T model states that effective decision-making follows a sequential process of situation assessment (SA), plan formulation (F) and plan execution (E) phases, and team learning (T). The central innovation of the SAFE-T model; however, is that it highlights the different ways in which decision-making can de-rail from this optimal strategy, resulting in decision inertia. This article discusses the implications of employing the SAFE-T model as a framework to study military decision-making both in the lab and in the field.
Full-text available
This paper will discuss the protocol of an inter-institutional study between the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Columbia University Medical Center that seeks to identify pedagogical models that can be employed in the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring system (GIFT) to support the transfer of skills from training to operations in individual Soldiers within the domain of critical care, addressing topics in hemorrhage, airway compromise, and/or tension Pneumothorax. The scientific approach will include two studies. The first correlational study aims to examine the effect of human variability on learning, performance, retention, and transfer by using individual differences (e.g., personality traits, cognitive abilities, and motivation) as criteria to tailor individual training for Soldier learning needs. The second study will be an experiment to examine how the priming of analogical reasoning tasks effects the problem-solving outcomes of increasingly complex critical care case study content. The authors intend to incorporate the findings of these two studies to support the development of accelerating expert-level reasoning skills and strategies to achieve cognitive flexibility, one of two paths that has been identified as a way to accelerate proficiency.
Full-text available
Los autores presentan los avances en torno a la institucionalización de un sistema sudamericano en el ámbito de la defensa. Observan que, si bien es posible encontrar elementos que permitan configurar un pensamiento estratégico regional, estiman que como primer paso es preciso identificar los problemas comunes y tener la voluntad de solucionarlos en conjunto. En tal sentido, el artículo analiza los avances que se han dado en el marco del Consejo de Defensa Suramericano (CDS) en la configuración de un pensamiento estratégico propiamente regional, como un elemento clave para avanzar en la autonomía estratégica de América del Sur. Adicionalmente, se presentan algunos elementos que debería contemplar dicho pensamiento estratégico en el contexto del complejo escenario internacional actual.
Adaption-Innovation is a timely and comprehensive text written for anyone who wants to know more about dealing with problem solving, thinking style, creativity and team dynamics. In an age when teams have become critical to successful problem solving, Adaption-Innovation (A-I) theory is a model in this field, which aims to increase collaboration and reduce conflict within groups. A-I Theory and associated inventory (KAI) have been extensively researched and are increasingly used to assist teambuilding and personnel management. In the context of the management of diversity and change, Dr Kirton outlines the central concepts of the theory, including the processes of problem solving, decision making and creativity as well as explanatory concepts such as the paradox of structure; coping behaviour; the distinction between how teams collaborate on the common task and how teams manage their own diversity. In addition, Dr Kirton focuses on the positive side of managing a wide diversity within teams that has the potential to lead to the highest levels of problem solving, creativity and effective management of change. The book offers practical information for those helping diverse teams succeed in today's demanding climate. In this fresh context, leadership theory is explored, suggesting a new and interesting approach in use of different styles.
This paper reports a meta-analytic literature review testing cognitive, affective, and contingency models of the effects of participation in decision making on employees' satisfaction and productivity. Contingency models received no support. Results from field studies provided some support for cognitive models, and strong support for affective models linking participative climate with worker satisfaction. Methodological variations such as research setting and type of participant were important moderators in subgroup analyses. We discuss the implications of such variations for task complexity.
The authors present a description and analysis of how they teach leadership to more than 1,000 cadets each year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. These cadets, upon graduation and commissioning as second lieutenants, are the future leaders of the U.S. Army. The organizational and institutional context of this work has contributed to the authors `development of a unique methodology for teaching organizational leadership. The authors recently have extended this methodology to the development of leaders in the Los Angeles Police Department and in various police departments throughout New Jersey. The success of this experience over several years has convinced the authors of the merit of their approach for teaching leadership to both aspiring and practicing leaders across military and civilian organizational contexts.
adapt or Die: the imperative for a Culture of innovation in the United States army
  • A David
  • Robert H Fastabend
  • Simpson
David A. Fastabend and Robert H. Simpson, "adapt or Die: the imperative for a Culture of innovation in the United States army," Army, February 2004, 14-25.
  • Paul Yingling
Paul yingling, " a Failure in Generalship " Armed Forces Journal, (May 2007);
Speech to USawC DvD recording
  • Robert M Gates
robert M. Gates, "Speech to USawC," DvD recording (Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. army war College, 16 april 2009). 2. ibid.