A better understanding of the environment helps organizations increase the overall performance. There are situations in which the wrong environment assessement may decrease the productivity or work against the organization's goal.
The military organization is different from a regular civilian organization: it is mission oriented, focused on effectiveness and the environment plays a big role in the outcome. More than that, military leaders have much fewer tools to analize and influence the environment in order to fit organizational needs. In Mountain Training Base the leader needs to balance the authority and group expectations in order to accomplish the mission assigned.
Key words: organization, environment, military, performance, leader(ship), mission.
Environmental analysis is the first step of the strategy management process. An organization can only be successful if it is appropriately matched to its environment.
ENVIRONMENT ANALYSIS is the study of the organizational environment to pinpoint environmental factors that can significantly influence organizational operations.
Managers commonly perform environmental analyses to help them understand what is happening both inside and outside their organizations and to increase the probability that the organizational strategies they develop will appropriately reflect the organizational environment.
In order to perform an environmental analysis efficiently and effectively, a manager must thoroughly understand how organizational environments are structured.
For purposes of environmental analysis, the environment of an organization is generally divided into 3 distinct levels:
1. General Environment
2. Operating Environment
3. Internal Environment
Managers must be well aware of these 3 organizational environmental levels, understand how each level affects organizational performance and then formulate organizational strategies in response to this understanding.
THE GENERAL ENVIRONMENT:
The components normally considered part of the general environment are:
THE OPERATING ENVIRONMENT:
The operating Environment includes various components like:
- International issues.
THE INTERNAL ENVIRONMENT:
The level of an organization's environment that exists inside the organization and normally has immediate and specific implications for managing the organization is the internal environment.
It includes marketing, finance and accounting, planning, organizing, influencing and controlling within the organization.
In order to have a big picture about the organization, performance and environment I'm going to conduct an analysis that can reveal the way ahead for Mountain Training Base.
Chapter 1. PERFORMANCE
Mountain Training Base is a small organization which is a part of the Military Educational System, as an institution for continuous education, having as a main mission the improvement of the education & training of officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted by specialty or career courses. Mountain Training Base is a component of the Infantry & Mountain Troops Training Center Făgăraș which is a subordinate unit of the Fighting Units Application School Pitești under the Land Forces HQ command.
The courses that the Mountain Training Base offers for the MoD are:
1. Career courses:
- basic mountain troops officers course;
- advanced mountain troops officers course;
- staff officers course;
- basic mountain troops noncommissioned officers course;
- mountain troops squad leader;
- mountain troops deputy platoon commander;
- staff noncommissioned officer course;
- forming the active officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted coming from lower ranks or outside MoD.
2. Specialty courses (for all ranks and branches):
- basic mountain training course (ski&climbing/summer&winter);
- advanced ski course;
- search & rescue course;
- survival course;
- ski instructor course;
- climbing instructor course;
Mountain Training Base organizes the full spectrum of specific mountain military sports competitions under the command of the Land Forces HQ.
We are also the subject matter expert for all the mountain warfare operations, editing the specific field manuals and regulations for both operations and training. Our experts are requested to evaluate the performance standards for the deployable mountain troops units.
Mountain Training Base is also providing expertise & training for other National Defense System members, on request.
We are also proud to contribute to the protection and conservation of the national cultural and historical mountain troops heritage.
As a recognition of the research&development in mountain warfare domain and the high level of education&training we provide, in 2009 we were accepted as a full member of the International Association of the Military Mountain Schools. We are very proud to be at the same level with countries which have the greatest experience in the mountain warfare such as Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain.
For us the performance means to deal with all the above challenges every year in order to accomplish the mission.
2.1.PESTEL analysis at the Mountain Training Base Predeal
It is a simple but important tool that can be used in order to understand the organization's environment. PESTEL is an acronym for the Political, Economic, Sociocultural, Tehnological, Environmental and Legal context(s) in which an organization operates. It provides a list of potential influences of the environment on the organization.
Issue Impact on organization
Romania is NATO member state and all the assumed tasks and standardization agreements should be operational, including the ones regarding the mountain troops units readiness level.
This includes the NATO Mountain Warfare Center of Excellence which will be set in place in Slovenia.
Member of the International Association of the Military Mountain Schools
2% of GDP for MoD
National regulation Mountain Training Base can perform all the training according to the NATO standards.
Mountain Training Base can exhibit our level of training and knowledge by having an instructor at the NATO Mountain Warfare Center of Excellence.
Mountain Training Base can have the best teaching and training techniques and regulations.
Less budget constraints.
Difficult to accredit the courses
Growth in individual income for the civilian jobs Recruitment issues
Labour migration Recruitment issues
The research & development efforts
Life cycle & speed of technological obsolescence No chances to access the newest technologies
Less chances to change the old equipment
Growing environmental agenda and community awareness
Nature 2000 site More money spent
Less ranges for training
National law inconstancies
Employment laws Recruitment issues
High injury risks
Table 1 PESTEL analysis
2.2. Results of PESTEL analysis
The political environment indirectly affects our performance by changing the military laws and regulations and making the human resource hard to retain in current positions.
The economical environment made the organization to lose personnel which was very important: paramedics, drivers, technical specialists. They were hard to retain because the low level of the paygrade comparing with the civilians.
The sociocultural aspect comes across with issues that a public organization can not face them by itself. The selection and recruitment processes are general for all the branches and specialties and in some parts they don't match with the requirements for being a mountain troop specialist.
For the very specialized part of our training (skiing & climbing) we relay on the civilian research & development and we purchase the equipment which is agreed by the UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation). This kind of equipment is very expensive and we struggle to assure the appropriate life cycle for it.
Being more aware of the environmental issues, our training areas have dangerously decreased in the last two decades because of the land owners and the natural sites we have to protect.
Having many gaps, the national and military regulations made us more reticent and aware related to the major injury risks we face every day.
It is the tool used in order to check and examine the strategic position of the organization and its environment. The main goal of this analysis is to identify the strategies which will create the best model in order to put together the resources and capabilities to get the best answer for the environment in which the organization is performing. This analysis is mandatory in order to asses the internal potential & limits and the external threats & opportunities. It examines all internal and external factors which might have an influence on the overall performance. A consistent study over the environment would help the organization to predict changing tendencies in order to integrate them in the decision making process.
Fig.1 SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis helps the organization to:
- examine and build on the organisation's (S)trengths;
- examine the organisation's possible (W)eaknesses;
- look for (O)pportunities;
- examine ways to counter the (T)hreats that come at organisation.
SWOT analysis diagram
• What does the organisation do better than others?
• What are the organisation's unique selling points? (nu e cazul)
• What do your competitors and customers perceive as organization strengths?
• What is the organisation's competitive edge? Opportunities
• What changes are taking place that could be favourable to the organization?
• Where are there currently gaps in the market or unfulfilled demand?
• What new innovation could the organisation bring to the market?
• What do other organisations do better?
• What elements of the organization add little or no value?
• What do competitors and customers perceive as organization weakness?
• What changes are taking place that could be unfavourable to the organization?
• What restraints do the organization face?
• What are the competitors doing that could negatively impact the organization?
3.2. SWOT analysis at the Mountain Training Base Predeal
In this section I'm going to use the SWOT analysis in order to determine how the environment influence the performance in the Mountain Training Base (MTB).
- MTB is the only military mountain warfare school in Romanian MoD;
- MTB is a full member of the International Association of the Military Mountain Schools;
- MTB is the only Romanian MoD educational institution designed to provide climbing and skiing instructors for the MoD and other components of the National Defense System, on request;
- MTB is the only Romanian MoD educational institution designed to provide basic mountain training for Romanian mountain troops units and all the Romanian Military, on request (skiing&climbing/summer&winter)
- location: Predeal – in the middle of the country, 1030-1110 meters altitude, winter is about 5 months (November to March);
- infrastructure: training facilities (classrooms, gym, English lab, tactical training range, Cheia Firing Range, Rîșnoavei Gorges Climbing Range, Predeal artificial climbing range, Predeal/Azuga/Sinaia/Bucegi skiing slopes), accommodation facilities (Predeal military hotels, Diham military chalet), feeding facilities;
- very professional and experienced instructors;
- MTB has all needed equipment for skiing & climbing training (except waterproof personal clothing);
- MTB can not implement by itself the regulations issued by the International Association of the Military Mountain Schools;
- The MTB commander has no financial management tools in order to increase the quality of the education & training (e.g. buying ski cards for cable transportation);
- We can not increase the number of instructors on the task organization;
- Only 15% of the MTB personnel are on the education&training billets;
- The graduation certificates we provide are not valid for the civilians;
- Retention issues related to the incomes of instructors;
- all deployable mountain troops units have to have winter warfare & mountain warfare capabilities and MTB is designed to provide this kind of training;
- all mountain troops units must have a search & rescue trained squad available all the time and MTB is responsible of training them twice a year (summer&winter);
- MTB trains foreign students in mountain warfare, skiing & climbing (e.g. Macedonia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Kazahstan, Saudi Arabia);
- MTB is organizing the national military selection of the personnel who represents Romania to the International Military sports competitions;
- MTB was offered to participate with one instructor at the NATO Mountain Warfare Center of Excellence which will be set in place in Slovenia;
- MTB is supposed to participate at the annually Council of the International Association of the Military Mountain Schools and to organize this every 10 years;
- not all the mountain troops units have the same task organization & the same equipment at the moment and the MTB's instructors are not familiar with;
- not all the search & rescue squads have the same members every year;
- foreign nations are not willing to send students any more because we can not provide them with the ski cards for cable transportation and waterproof personal clothing;
- MTB can not provide any more instructors for the national selection;
- it's possible that MTB will not be able to provide an instructor for the NATO Mountain Warfare Center of Excellence due to the lack of personnel;
- it's possible that MTB will not be able to participate at the Council or, even worste, not to organize it based on the budget restrictions.
3.3. TOWS matrix
Performing the SWOT analysis I've discovered that the external environment is much too stronger and negatively affects the overall performance of the organization. This influence is above the command & control power of the MTB Commander. However, I can try to see, using the TOWS matrix, what solutions we may have to change the situation with minimal costs.
Strengths (S) Weaknesses (W)
Opportunities (O) I. (S-O) II. (W-O)
Threats (T) III. (S-T) IV. (W-T)
Table 2 TOWS matrix
- square I (S&O intersection): we should invest in Strenghts in order to maximize the Oportunities (e.g. identifiyng and training an instructor in order to represent Romania at the NATO Mountain Warfare Center of Excellence);
- square II (W&O intersection): we should establish if the Oportunities are important enough in order to invest in transforming the weaknesses in Strenghts (e.g. we can increase the number of qualified instructors by organizing instructor courses for the personnel which is not on the instructor billet, in order to face all the educational&training requests);
- square III (S&T intersection): we need to esablish if we are able to overcome Threats by ourselves. Usualy is no need for a certain Strenght if the environment doesn't offer any oportunity to deal with (e.g. MTB will not provide any more instructors to evaluate the deployable mountain troops unit's mountain & winter warfare capabilities);
- square IV (W&T intersection): in this area there is an urgent and negative issue which can endanger the organization. We need to identify a solution in order to mitigate the risks (e.g. we can try to find sponsors to pay for the foreign students cable transportation in order to mantain the international participation at courses).
Taking into consideration all the analysis results I can conclude that the Mountain Training Base is very vulnerable to the environmental changes and that those can affect its overall performance.
The means we have to mitigate those vulnerabilities are very few and they are related especially to the human resource capacity to work hard in order to achieve all the tasks assigned.
The financial resources are pore, the military equipments are new but we can not relay on a changing technology program that will allow us to project our activities for more than one year. The human resource is very well trained and qualified to achieve the assigned mission but it is not large enough for a very high quality job. Also we don't have a projected a human resource management program in order to face the future challenges.
We have a good image at international level and we are struggling to maintain that image in order to make us stronger and be taken more seriously at the national level.
Allocating the necessary resources the Mountain Training Base will be more than before in our history a modern military organization with an operational capacity similar to the foreign armies and also advanced, flexible and dynamic infrastructure.
And we could achieve with professionalism our missions and our assumed military obligation.
We also trying to maintain the quality of education and training at the level that is been achieved by organizing courses in other languages and with other foreign army as well, based on the agreement between armed forces during the first meeting of the IAMMS (International Association of Military Mountain Schools).
To move further and thinking about future we can try to make courses more suitable to the civilians also, so that we could establish an increased level of training.
Our main goal should be focused on the accreditation of specialization courses and to manage the inherent opportunities underlying the promotion of the domestic and international preparedness based on maintaining and increasing the quality of training in Mountain Training Base.
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