On this episode of Popping the Bubbl we feature entrepreneur and founder of Mankins Research, Bill Mankins. Mankins is currently in a funding cycle and I encourage each of you to click and invest to his incredible work. Bill is a longtime friend of mine and someone I would trust with my life. His work is changing our international engagement for the better--for more on Bill's work, check out.
Bill and I have spent years in combat zones focusing not on domination of the enemy; but empowerment of the host-nation elements. The success of these host-nation leaders is essential in creating stability in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Mali, etc.
While in the field deeply immersed within the local environment, Bill and I were struck with the same question — how do we take our unique skill set and experience and replicate the orientation required to succeed at the ground level?
And, what skills and training did Bill possess that allowed him to insert between two dominant and competing systems while simultaneously creating the influence necessary to merge/blend/meld the two together. This dance — getting the US to create the wins necessary for the local government, while not overpowering the fledging leaders — is where Bill’s brilliance is amplified.
Our forces currently focus training on domination, the command’s imposition of will and a combat-centric approach. While this training and education platform is still relevant for many needs on the modern battlefield…the ability to merge systems…to see, understand and leverage culture is lacking; ultimately denying the creation of stability we all desire.
In business, we often discuss EQ (emotional intelligence). It’s clear that a developed EQ will create greater insight. What does an EQ based system look like? How does one create the outcomes they desire? How does someone seeking to leverage EQ know if their work is successful? A systematic approach to EQ is tough to fathom and tougher to measure.
Further, anyone who is an expert in EQ should also be proficient in discussing the development of CQ (Cultural Intelligence). EQ and CQ form a synergistic affect based approach to accomplishing goals. Anyone seeking to improve the condition of, or collaborate through must be strong in both EQ and CQ.
Bill is one of these people who blends EQ and CQ into a system that affords him uncommon access and accomplishment. His mission now, is to start his own university which teaches students how to thrive in the most dangerous and complex cultural, conflict drenched environments on the earth. The knowledge his academy will create leads to seeing things as a system with inputs, throughputs and outputs. This will change the approach to many of the problems that confound our best efforts in conflict zones.
When a culture is too foreign, we reject what is experienced as being improper or wrong. We’re simply not prepared for the difference. Despite the competing cultural norm’s presence, we’re not equipped to see it, let alone negotiate our way through it.
This view, and lack of perspective, creates an institutional myopia that drives our failures in creating stability. Exacerbating this myopia is our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based approach to education. In areas of instability, STEM-centric thinking lacks the EQ and CQ driven outcomes that are required for measurable success. As we seek to measure and decide what to do, we systematically reject the people who matter the most, because they are viewed as inferior due to their lack of a STEM focused education.
The Mankins Approach
Meanwhile, the treacherous path to success in conflict zones is lit by the emotions and culture of the region. That regional culture is a system which is augmented by emotions. Learning to navigate it, to understand how an input makes its way through, creates the understanding necessary to work within it. Step one is understanding the existence of the system; then observing how it performs; how it fails, what is possible. We then start to leverage this foreign system—while implementing subtle improvements—in a way that allows us to accomplish goals through the partnered culture. Why orchestrate a new culture, exposing our success to threats when the existing one will afford desired outcomes?
These skills are applicable in combat as well as the corporate world. Companies talk in terms of culture frequently, but without understanding their own current cultural system. Once one measures the output of a company’s culture, the system begins to reveal itself…and provide places where effort is required to change the outputs. These new outputs will better match the desired outcome. Cultural dissonance is expensive, and hidden from leadership whether in the C-suite or the Command and Staff.
Bill’s epic venture, to create a new way to approach human problems is disrupting how we confront EQ, CQ and conflict. He’s updating our reliance on STEM as our means to solving complex social problems. His school is the future of how we approach conflict. Support Mankins Research/Mankins Academy by clicking on their link.
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