FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Generation Z is on track to become the largest demographic living on post by 2025, and this year’s Leadership Fort Campbell 2.0 cohort is leading the way in developing new approaches to reach them locally and potentially Armywide.
LFC 2.0 is a professional development course that brings together civilian employees from across the installation to solve problems using Army design methodology. This year’s cohort was tasked with evaluating how the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation should continue supporting Soldiers and Families in the years to come. The cohort determined what businesses, recreation programs, and services MWR should provide the Fort Campbell population in 2025.
“We’re looking at how to bridge the gap between MWR and future generations,” said Betty Guthrie, Human Resources Assistant, Fort Campbell Directorate of Human Resources. “MWR has been the same for many years, but now we have the millennials and Gen Zers who make up most of the population and will continue to grow. Things that worked in the past won’t necessarily bring in those customers in the future.”
Millennials are adults 25-40 years old, while those ages 6-24 make up the demographic known as Generation Z, or Gen Z. The cohort determined that 52.67% of Fort Campbell Soldiers are millennials, while 42.01% belong to Gen Z.
Figuring out what ideas will work for those demographics is an important mission for Guthrie, whose daughter is an ROTC cadet preparing to join the Army.
“One of the things we have to look at is whether we’d recommend some businesses be divested or improved,” she said. “Right now, we’re looking more toward improving … what people want is changing, so that’s what we’re looking at.”
Guthrie and her classmates presented their findings and about 10 solutions March 18 to Col. Jeremy D. Bell, Fort Campbell garrison commander, Jonathan Hunter, Fort Campbell deputy garrison commander, and directorate leaders from across the installation.
“Really, we’re doing what we call red-teaming,” said Program Facilitator Scott Galbraith, chief of Training Integration, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. “MWR is looking at this problem internally with their own workforce … we’re giving a fresh perspective through the lens of Army design to provide viable recommendations back to Col. Bell and leadership.”
Bell personally chose the task for LFC 2.0, and the class began working Dec. 7, 2020. The course includes six weeks of class time spread across three months.
“The first few weeks they actually have a lot of what I would consider master’s level leadership training,” said Co-facilitator Dana Prins, training technician, Training Integration Branch, DPTMS. “A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to take part in that, barring paying for graduate school.”
That means the work can be difficult, but the payoff was well worth it for students like Nilka Goodwin, engineering equipment operator, Directorate of Public Works.
“It’s been great and it’s been challenging,” she said. “This class is not easy. It pushes you and it challenges you, but just the friendships alone and meeting different personalities and people are worth it.”
Every directorate from U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Campbell is represented in LFC 2.0, a unique aspect of the program that helps unify the workforce for years to come.
“Employees from around the garrison are meeting each other and forming those relationships will undoubtedly help in the future,” Prins said. “You never know when you’re going to need to talk to somebody from DPW in a specific shop.”
Organizations such as Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and Army Field Support Battalion-Campbell are usually represented as well. This year’s cohort was trimmed down from 32 to 22 people because of COVID-19, but still included personnel from across the garrison.
“You need the diversity of your workforce to learn and grow from one another,” Galbraith said. “We don’t all think alike. Our experiences, our diversity, our background and our everyday life plays a big factor in how we move forward and how we solve problems as a team.”
The first few weeks of the course, which were hosted virtually this year, focused on teambuilding exercises and personality assessments to bring those different types of students together, along with leadership training and site tours.
Students are introduced to Army design methodology three weeks in, likely for the first time in their lives. Galbraith said teaching civilians that tool is important and ties directly into the Army’s People First strategy.
“As human beings, we’re naturally inclined to jump to a solution,” he said. “But we teach them design is very methodical … once we identify what the current problems are, then and only then can we align the appropriate solution with a problem.”
Goodwin said that mindset was her most important takeaway from LFC 2.0, and she plans to use it to excel in her own role at DPW.
“When you look at the competencies that are integrated through LFC 2.0, we’re getting at a ready force,” Galbraith said. “We’re supporting professional development, we’re getting after the diversity that we need in terms of conceptual critical thinking, and these experiences they can take back and influence within their organizations.”
Many LFC 2.0 graduates also return as mentors to help students work through Army Design Methodology.
“My favorite part of being a mentor is getting to know the students and what their unique skills and strengths are,” said Marion Pumphrey, lead work order clerk, DPW. “I think that’s a special part of the mentor role, getting to work with the students one-on-one, develop those relationships and see them grow through the process.”
Pumphrey said the key is to let students take ownership of the process and provide individual assistance as needed.
“I think I’ve grown a lot as a leader through being a mentor,” she said. “I’m a lead in my current position, but you get stuck in your day-to-day routine. Coming in and being a mentor to 22 different personalities mixes things up for you, and I can take that leadership experience back with me.”
Galbraith said LFC 2.0 has led to several successful initiatives on post – some coming from the class it-self, and others from graduates using the skills it teaches.
“The Civilian Employee One Stop Shop that’s online is a result of Army Design Methodology, and the Garrison Learning Center is a result of design thinking,” he said. “It’s generated multiple initiatives on this installation that have benefitted our civilian workforce and ultimately the services we provide to our customers.”
As this year’s graduating class wraps up their project, new and improved MWR programs could soon join that list.
“The Leadership Fort Campbell cohort has the opportunity to influence change,” Guthrie said. “It’s definitely an experience, and I’m glad I’m a part of it: meeting new people, getting a better under-standing of how Fort Campbell is connected and how we’re all connected to one another to make Fort Campbell what it is.”