Monthly Archives: May 2010

Brooks on dual consciousness

Columnist David Brooks contrasts the fabled stability of certain large organizations with a surprisingly adaptable one, the United States Army:

They say that intellectual history travels slowly, and by hearse. The old generation has to die off before a new set of convictions can rise and replace entrenched ways of thinking. People also say that a large organization is like an aircraft carrier. You can move the rudder, but it still takes a long time to turn it around.

The Army, Brooks says, has substantially changed its mind and its practices in a few short years, in part because it has found a way to link action and reflection, experience and inquiry:

The process was led by these dual-consciousness people — those who could be practitioners one month and then academic observers of themselves the next. They were neither blinkered by Army mind-set, like some of the back-slapping old guard, nor so removed from it that their ideas were never tested by reality, like pure academic theoreticians.

Read more of “Leading With Two Minds” in the May 7, 2010 New York Times.