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Although it offers no definitive evidence that senior Obama administration officials ordered the reports to be doctored, it describes analysts as feeling as though they were under pressure from Centcom leaders to present a more optimistic view of the threat posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The New York Times: Military Officials Distorted ISIS Intelligence, Congressional Panel, August 11, 2016.

The deputy commander of the unit, an Air Force Colonel, walked by me in the hallway. As he did so, he looked at me and just shook his head. That’s it. No one ever said to me directly to quit pushing so hard in my new job which was to get computer security up to standards in our unit. They expected everyone to “get the hint” and to fall in line. Computer security was something we were supposed to look like we were doing and in any event it shouldn’t interfere with normal operations. More importantly, we shouldn’t be doing anything more than what anyone else was doing.

Not long after this encounter with the deputy commander a guy named John Anthony Walker was arrested for spying at another unit. Eventually, we would learn that he was part of one of the most damaging Soviet spy rings in United States history. One would think that such an event would vindicate this hard charging young officer. Instead, senior management would have been more than happy to have simply been doing what everyone else was doing especially as the subsequent Pentagon review concluded that just about all units were substandard. It was more important to fall in line and be like everyone else than it was to try and do a good job that could prevent disasters such as John Walker.

It does not take much, a simple shake of the head by an influential person, for a whole team to know what is expected of them. Nothing may ever be written down or even spoken out loud but the organization will still fall in line, especially if falling in line is less effort and doesn’t impede advancement.

Or we can try Maybe We Should Ignore Our Boss

What subtle clues are you seeing that may hinder or help your project team’s progress?

Thank you for sharing!