TEAMTALK | In early October, I attended a workshop hosted by NATO that was, interestingly, very much THNK-related. The gathering focused on collaboration between the military, diplomats and aid workers in peace support operations. I was fascinated to realize that, even in traditionally hierarchical settings such as the defense industry, people are increasingly focused on human-centered questions of collaboration and leadership. Because they are what matters and often directly determine success and failure.
It does make a lot of sense: the increasingly changing nature of defense operations from "traditional" combat to overall peace support requires an entirely different type of leadership in order to be successful. Not in the least because collaboration is required between an ever growing range of different military and non-military actors. What makes collaboration fruitful and what does not? The gist of the answer appears to be in the human factor: success can often be explained first and foremost as a result of productive relationships. How to manage and cultivate those?
Among the 50 guests were high profile leaders from the defense and diplomacy side, originating in the United States, Canada, and several European NATO member states. Most of them bringing a wealth of experience as a consequence of extensive recent missions in Afghanistan. They were complimented by a series of prominent academics that have focused their research on this topic. The end result was an intimate setting that allowed for a surprising range of vibrant discussions that attempted to tackle conventional challenges of tunnel vision with much integrity—inspired by the realization that all parties involved have no choice but to work together and increase mutual understanding in order to achieve shared as well as individual goals.
Read more about NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.