Officer Training

Wardroom Training: Wolfs Change Rivers – All you need to know about complex systems in 4 minutes

Every week the officers in our command get together and spend 30 minutes on personal and professional development training. It is a time of discussion where we view a short video or read a short article and then discuss how we can use that information to make our selves better, our command better, and our Navy better; in that order. The training also gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts and prospective from my 20 years of experience.


Last weeks officer training was on the 4 minute video “Wolfs Change Rivers”.

While the title suggests something that you may view in biology or geology class, the movie is nothing of the sort.  The video really showed the incredible complexity and interdependence of complex systems.  Much like the butterfly effect, whether in nature, industry or the Military, one must be very careful when making changes to complex systems.

Questions for Discussion:

  • When the wolves were introduced the first order effect was predictable (kill the deer), the second order effect was also predictable (the plants the deer were eating grew back) but the 10th order effect (rivers changed) was not predictable. What order of an effect can one reasonably predict?
  • What complex systems in the military are we dealing with that seem to have a simple answer?  ie.  “If we can just get some more _____ everything would be just fine”
  • DOTMLPF stands for doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities. How often do we look at and try and address  the entire DOTMLPF spectrum when  addressing a problem, or do we just tend to look at one aspect?
  • With out 20/20 hind site, and not knowing that the wolves would have a positive change on Yellowstone should they have been introduced?



If you have an additional article or video along with discussion points for officer training please contact me and I will post. 

Leave a Reply....