Neuroscience Supports Mission Command

20th Anniversary of “Sources of Power” by Gary Klein

neuroscienceIn this seminal book on the psychology and neuroscience of intuitive decision making Dr. Gary Klein laid the foundational scientific support for changing the way we train leaders to become experts in their craft and make effective rapid decisions under stress to solve “wicked problems”. Klein’s research and writings have been cited by several of the authors of this “Mission Command” book to explain how we need to change the training of our leaders at all levels and how we need to change our planning doctrine to account for how the human brain learns and makes sense of the environment and predicts future outcomes. The human brain is a prediction “machine” and it can be developed to predict faster and more accurately given the right imposed demands and environmental feedback. In “Sources of Power” Klein proposes a naturalistic approach to decision making, which views people as gaining experience that enables them to use a combination of intuition and analysis to make decisions. To illustrate this approach, Klein tells stories of people — from pilots to chess masters — acting under such real-life constraints as time pressure, high stakes, personal responsibility, and shifting conditions. In addition to these stories, Klein explains how we can plan ahead to better develop our sense making, our imagination, and the effectiveness of our decisions. See our blog post on “Transformation to Maneuver Fitness” by LTC Daniel Markert for more on Klein’s influence on his work. In his and Scott Sonnon’s chapter “Operationally Fit for Mission Command” they write about how to program exercise to enhance the cognitive functions necessary for attentional a switching, rapid analysis, and intuitive decision making described by Klein. Every military leader should read “Sources of Power”. Pre-order on Amazon for delivery on September 15th.

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