ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The installation's need to employ new ways of thinking to overcome budget challenges was the central theme of a leadership cohort discussion Aug. 30.

The APG Leadership Cohort program, now in its third year-long session, aims to help 32 civilians from across the installation confront the Army's difficult problems while developing them as future leaders.

Cynthia Dewey, a strategic account manager at the Office of Personnel Management, urged Cohort participants to find new solutions to obstacles as the military cuts its budget.

"Things are changing so quickly within government, specifically the Department of Defense," Dewey said. "If we cease to look at change and embrace change, we're going to cease to exist."

Dewey is responsible for the program's design, execution and curriculum. She also finds facilitators for each Cohort topic.

The day's module focused on making participants aware of their perceptions and how to adjust.
"What's important is to make people aware how they see things, why they see things the way they do, and the advantages of seeing things differently," Dewey said. "Through Cohort, people are building alliances and collaborating across their agencies. In the past, they were fairly stove-piped."

Cohort presenter Jodi King, an OPM contractor, led the session's discussion on turning change into a positive. She stressed that managers must consider how plans will affect their workers' morale.

"When we're dealing with change, it can be the best laid plan, but that plan has to be implemented through people," King said. "If we forget the emotional state, change won't take place because change happens through and with people."

Dewey recalled how previous Cohort members from different Army organizations worked together to save money. They teamed up to find needed lab space for a colleague.

"They weren't even aware of it in the past. This has allowed people to take the blinders off," Dewey said. "What other resources are available? They are starting to realize that if they partner and collaborate, the resources will go further."