I found this blog post at chrishernandezauthor.com causing me some serious deja vu as I read it.

His description of the top-down safety stupidity he saw practiced in the National Guard and the active-duty Army sounded a lot like many Continuous Improvement tools/activities/practices I’ve witnessed in the manufacturing world.

They share a few characteristics.  Despite being well-intended initially, they metastasized into something as useless as they are overweening.  They were forced down to the ranks by some brilliant leader (likely someone neither truly brilliant nor truly a leader).  And they were made mandatory with threats of punishments both active and passive.

Now, don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of awfully useful and even valuable concepts in the Continuous Improvement realm.  Unfortunately, their value is often overshadowed and the credibility of the initiative as a whole severely damaged by the stupid stuff.

All leaders, civilian or military, should routinely take time to ask their true experts — the ones on the front lines — if they’re being asked to do anything really idiotic and counterproductive.  And then, if at all possible, they should do away with anything that comes up.