Straying from my usual “beat” I read the Rolling Stone article that caused the downfall of General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan.

It seems to me that he was fired, not because he was insubordinate, but because he failed to manage the politics surrounding the adventure in Afghanistan.

The article is a revealing, and fascinating narrative of an innovative, unconventional manager who got things done by ignoring the weight of the status quo, and its proponents. The parallels in management are everywhere, to be different, take closely considered risks, apply the unconventional, take information from the “front line” and argue with authority, all are traits necessary in a leader who is successful, and particularly successful at implementing innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. 

Afghanistan has been a problem for every army since Alexander that has sought to place its stamp on the place, the US is no different.  Engagement there screams for the unconventional, as the conventional has never worked, but conventional leaders cannot deliver unconventional solutions.

Many more will die, and more billions spent before the US and its “allies” including Australia wake up, but it is hard to admit you are wrong.