At first, Robert Mueller appeared to be a candidate for the cover of Silver Magazine (if there was one). He was the former head of the FBI and was highly respected by most people in Washington. Tall, stately and exuding confidence, he seemed to be the quintessential Silver. Then there was the publicized hearing.

His performance helped to solidify in the minds of too many people that the OWMs are out of touch, feeble and ineffective. We aren’t, of course, but performances like Mueller’s perpetuate the stereotype.

Significant differences in Silvers and seniors stood out as he presented himself: he lived in the past.

  • He did things the way he had always done them: let others do the work and then be the figurehead
  • Relied on old technology (a three-ring binder) to navigate through hundreds of pages of text
  • Failed to prepare for inevitable contemporary issues, not the traditional line of thought
  • Used obscure terms, like “purview”, to mask shortcomings

Let’s check ourselves and make sure we’re not making the same mistakes.


Here are some thoughts from Jerry Striplin in Kabul.
Pareidolia, Conformation Bias and more.
Yes, he does wear a flack vest and helmet sometimes.

Significant Wisdom Cannot Be Neutral

As we end another bloodied month in Afghanistan, I think about the many Julys I’ve spent here and the progress that is being made, albeit slow, standing on the lives and sacrifice of the military from many countries and the people of this great nation.

Like millions of others, I watched the testimony of Robert Muller. I could not help but be disappointed in the weakness of the testimony of an individual that was supposed to represent and protect the interest of the United States. Having watched him over these last many months, I felt that he had the wisdom and the credibility to do what had to be done. In retrospect, it was quite clear that he did not realize that wisdom cannot be neutral.

As I recall Robert Muller’s testimony, I fear he has caused the trust given to the very senior advisers to lose some of their credibility. It is my hope that business and government leaders will recognize that we should not all be judged by the performance of one individual.

This September, I will turn 71 in Kabul. I have had the honor to have worked across 54 countries over these past 30 years. I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people working to make a significant change. I have also had the pleasure to work with leaders of industry and governments to help design and support their vision. The one thing that I found consistent across each of these successful individuals is there was a clear understanding that you cannot create a “Future State” unless you understand “The History and the Current State”.