Dealing with Organizational Change

MAJ Sean Barrett, Crucible Essay, ILE 09-01, SG 22D

It is difficult to single out a particular event in my career as being significant in that I have had
many experiences which all in some measure have provided me with incremental transformation in my
journey to become a more mature leader. One job in particular however comes to mind as being
exceptionally challenging and rewarding in terms of accomplishments and in my preparation for service
as an organizational leader. That job was serving as the Director of Human Resources (DHR) for the US
Army Garrison, Japan. My crucible experience begins with my assignment to take over the DHR from a
lieutenant colonel who after a year in the position remained in survival mode as the only individual
working at the directorate level. After describing the job and some of the particular challenges I faced, I
will share some of the key lessons learned from the experience and close this paper by reflecting on how
that experience has contributed and shaped me to be a better leader at the organizational level.
Prior to and during my tour of duty in Japan, the Army underwent a series of reorganizations and
realignments in an effort to unencumber senior mission commanders of garrison type operations by
placing those functions under the prevue of the Installation Management Command (IMCOM). IMCOM
established, on paper only and without resources, the Directorate of Human Resources. This new
directorate would be comprised of five pre-existing organizations providing human resource type services
and support to all Army organizations and personnel in Japan: The Education Services Division (aka the
Ed Centers), the Military Personnel Division (MPD), the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP), the
Administrative Services Division (ASD) (publications/forms management & official mail), and the Postal
Services Division (military post offices/APOs). Unique to garrison operations in Japan, the garrison was
split between Camp...