Section 7: Agility, Innovation, and Risk Management

Success in the evolving security environment requires CANSOFCOM to be both agile and innovative. Both are necessary, but each requires a radically different mindset.

“The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.”

– Seneca

Being agile is about adapting positively to change. It requires CANSOFCOM to be an action-oriented organization supported by flexible resources, driven by rapid decision and learning cycles, enabled by technology, empowered by flat teams built around end-to-end accountability, and inspired by shared purpose and vision.

Innovation is about creating change and establishing the future on our own terms. It requires CANSOFCOM to undertake continuous learning and ongoing experimentation in all aspects of its work, from military operations to organizational design to relationship building, privileging both learning to innovate and innovating to learn. To do so, the Command must move past the idea of simply “doing more faster.” It must also shake off any expectations of how the world should be in order to accept the world for what it is and then evolve accordingly.

The Command’s commitment to innovation must also go hand-in-hand with a continued focus on implementing and improving existing and well-understood areas of operation. The Command will continue to focus on optimization and modernization in relation to operational effectiveness and institutional stewardship, allowing for predictability, resilience, and reliability.

Throughout it all, the Command must embrace judiciously pursued risk. This means that it must accept the risk of mistakes and missteps in certain contexts, such as experimentation and new ideas, in order to ensure that it is always fail-safe when it comes to operational matters. Managing this risk calls for a high degree of clarity vis-à-vis the problems to be solved, along with enough data to make informed decisions.

To this end, the Command will prioritize the implementation of Gradient Ascent – a new digitalization and data analytics initiative designed to ensure a level of competency in the digital space commensurate with what we have achieved in the kinetic space – in order to attain information dominance over adversaries on operations, while simultaneously leveraging the advantages that digital technologies provide for improving institutional efficiency and effectiveness.

Lastly, the ability to know how to learn and how to think effectively are key ingredients for organizational success. In recognition of this, the Command will carve out deliberate time and space for effective strategic thinking, with a view to optimizing the cognitive capacity of all leaders within the Command.

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