Catalyzing Change in Complex Organizations: The Department of Defense Office of Force Transformation




Dechant, Jason Alan

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In 2001, the Department of Defense launched an effort to transform, or radically change, the U.S. military to remain ahead of would-be adversaries and fully execute the 2002 National Security Strategy. Its primary vehicle for doing so was the establishment of an independent office, the Office of Force Transformation (OFT), charged with catalyzing change, in coordination with other major actors throughout the department. The office existed from 2001 until 2006, at which point it was closed for a variety of reasons and under mixed reviews. Although both military history and organizational theory provide some insights into the experience, neither provide analogous cases involving a small, independent office responsible for promoting change within an organization as large and complex as the Department of Defense. Therefore, prompted by the department's recent experience with OFT, the research presented here considers whether the office was successful at advancing its key initiatives. In doing so, it seeks to address the bureaucratic prerequisites to successfully promoting a change agenda and also to provide recommendations for the department or other agencies interested in pursuing similar agendas in the future.



Public policy, Military studies, Political Science, Department of Defense, Independent Office, Military Innovation, Office of Force Transformation, Organizational Change, Transformation