In today’s ever-changing and unpredictable world, the DOD recognizes the need and value of leaders who can think strategically to solve complex national security problems. As highlighted in the 2022 National Defense Strategy, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and investing in developing DOD talent — the military and civilian professionals who will be the keys to success. One avenue through which these leaders are educated and grown is the Industry Based Broadening (IB2 LOG) Strategic Broadening Seminar (SBS), a world-class program offered by the Institute for Defense and Business (IDB), a nonprofit educational institute based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The IB2 LOG SBS program provides officers, warrant officers, senior NCOs, DOD civilians, and private sector participants with a unique opportunity to broaden their perspectives by exposure to what private industry is doing in critical areas, including data, technology, innovation, artificial intelligence, continuous process improvement, and overall organizational culture. IB2 LOG participants attend a two-week residency in North Carolina, where they engage in intensive learning and collaboration. The program also focuses on enhancing leadership skills, understanding complex security environments, and fostering critical and creative thinking.
Problem Statement and Collaborative Approach
Before attending the program, participants prepare a problem statement related to an essential, problematic issue within their organization or one that requires attention to move the organization toward increasing readiness, reducing costs, or improving performance. Upon arrival, program participants are placed in teams centered around common problem statement themes such as maintenance programs, supplier distribution, data flow, and total asset visibility. Participants refine their problem statements throughout the program through group work, drawing upon knowledge from speaker sessions, presentations, and field trip industry visits. This collaborative approach allows individuals from diverse backgrounds and ranks to contribute unique insights and foster a spirit of teamwork to develop strategies and courses of action to address the identified problem.
Curriculum and Industry Engagement
During the first week of the residency, participants engage in academic-led sessions designed to challenge their thinking and broaden their knowledge. IDB’s flexibility as a nonprofit organization enables collaboration with esteemed institutions and industry leaders. These sessions cover various relevant topics, including innovation, data visualization, and business communications. Industry partners share their insights, providing private sector perspectives not typically found in traditional military education. The program also benefits from a strong alum network, with previous participants sharing their experiences and lessons learned, reinforcing the practical applicability of the program’s teachings.
Industry Visits and Real-Life Examples
In the program’s second week, participants visit diverse companies across central and eastern North Carolina, ranging from small enterprises to Fortune 500 corporations. These visits provide invaluable insights into private sector operations, innovation, and challenges. For example, participants may learn about predictive maintenance and supply chain optimization through artificial intelligence. Other visits showcase the power of a culture of innovation and employee-driven initiatives in improving efficiency and leadership at all levels.
Culmination and Leadership Perspectives
The program concludes with small group presentations to a panel of esteemed leaders from the private and public sectors. These panels feature influential figures, such as senior DOD officials and industry executives, who provide feedback and engage in a dialogue with the participants. The presentations draw upon the knowledge gained throughout the program, emphasizing innovation, culture change, data utilization, and the role of artificial intelligence in addressing complex supply chain and logistics challenges. The panel discussions inspire fresh ideas and encourage critical thinking, preparing participants to tackle future warfare demands effectively.
Investing in innovative and adaptable leaders is crucial in an increasingly complex world. The IB2 LOG SBS, offered by the IDB, equips officers, warrant officers, senior NCOs, DOD civilians, and private sector participants with the necessary tools and networking opportunities to navigate tomorrow’s challenges. By embracing change and fostering collaboration, the IB2 LOG SBS ensures the DOD remains prepared and ready to face the evolving landscape of the decisive decade. In developing the next generation of leaders, IB2 LOG SBS embodies the philosophy of focusing energy on building the new rather than fighting the old.
Retired Army Col. Mark Susnis serves as a Program Director at the Institute for Defense and Business in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was commissioned as a lieutenant of the Transportation Corps. He has a Master of Arts in leadership and management from Webster University, Missouri, and a Master of Arts in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.
This article is published in the Fall 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.