Divisions Play a Role in Vision2000

by Major Kurt Burger –
Commander, Cascade Division

Compelled by God’s love and sincerely seeking to do God’s will, we will be consumed by a total commitment to mission…

I always carry a notebook in my briefcase which I use to write down thoughts, ideas and quotes. When I became a divisional commander two years ago, I pulled out my little book and wrote, among other thoughts, words spoken by the Founder many years ago: “Continuity of principle, with constant adaptation to change.” Little did I know then that adaptation to change would force itself into my life and work to a far greater degree than I ever anticipated. Nor did I realize the difficulty and complexity of our balancing act between continuity of principle (our doctrines, life of holiness, our stand on various social issues) and the changes that have and are taking place (information technology, characteristics of different generations etc.).

The existence of new territorial and corps visions calls for reexamining the role and function of divisional headquarters. For instance, the entire approval process needs to be evaluated. Consulting, which is defined as professional or technical advice, needs to take on a larger scope in DHQs’ services. DHQ personnel needs to be readily available to help implement the vision developed by corps, facilitating their efforts. Above all, DHQs need to allow corps to innovate, create and–where it so happens–fail.

The greater the degree of freedom, the greater the need for strong accountability. This may sound like a paradox, but it isn’t. One thing will never change in human endeavors: an organization, which is simply a group of people organized around a common purpose, will never successfully fulfill its mission without strong accountability.

What methods of accountability should we then strengthen and/or introduce? First, I believe our planning process needs to be enhanced. We have many excellent tools available, but corps need to do a better job utilizing them, and DHQs need to do a better job of monitoring. Second, corps councils and advisory boards need to be strengthened, not just in numbers and diversity, but also in their roles and responsibilities. In other words, officers and employees alike need to become more accountable to corps councils and advisory boards. Third, DHQs need to become more accountable to their respective divisions. Officers, employees and laypeople should all be able to evaluate the performance of DHQs and provide feedback as to the quality of their service.

Fourth, we all need to accept the necessity of a corps officer, divisional commander or territorial commander to make a final decision where policies or situations so dictate. To quote Peter Drucker: “One hears a great deal today about the ‘end of hierarchy.’ This is blatant nonsense. In any institution there has to be a final authority, that is, a ‘boss’–someone who can make the final decision and who can then expect to be obeyed.”

Another thing I wrote in my little book: General George Carpenter’s biographer points out that “he always made a sharp distinction between ‘the Army spirit’ and the Army machine, and sought to lift thinking from clamoring material consideration to spiritual priorities.” I hope we at divisional headquarters can do likewise.

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