Counting the Uncountable: Power of Intangibles
We are now in Day 65 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, of what many people thought would be a 2–3 day action.
Thankfully that has not been the case. But how did so many analysts and experts get this so wrong?
When you put it on paper it should have been over very quickly: the Russian aggressor with the 4th or 5th most powerful military in the world and population of 140M people versus Ukraine, a country with 40M people and a military ranked number 22.
But what the experts could not account for were morale, leadership at the political & military institutions, professionalism of the officer corp and how the regular people stepped up to support and help the defense of the country Ie. unity. Pretty much aspects that were all underestimated on the Ukrainian side and widely overestimated on the Russian side. Based on the performance of the Russian army so far, they have clearly been in deficit from a military leadership, organizational, and morale perspective. Russian soldiers have been seen to be only effective in robbing, raping and brutalizing Ukrainian unarmed civilians. Oh yes, and also shelling cities from afar like the orcs they are.
Military veteran and expert Mick Ryan tweets some good points worth reading here:
There is also a very insightful interview here with ex-US Military Colonel Joel Rayburn in The New Yorker:
Is the Russian Military a Paper Tiger?
This week, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, announced the onset of what he called a new phase in his…
Net net: the Russian military is “a poor-quality military with poor-quality leadership and poor logistics — and seemingly highly inclined to corruption.”
Hence the situation we find ourselves now with Russia having lost the battle of Kyiv, lost the flagship of their Black Seas Fleet, lost 10 out of 20 generals and an estimated quarter of the military force sent into Ukraine. Russia seems to be cutting back on their larger objective of subsuming Ukraine as a sovereign country. We find Ukraine holding their own at a tactical and strategic level albeit at a horrendous price that saddens me.
It’s almost the same as when it’s a big corporation versus a startup. On paper, a big company should win with all the resources, people, brand and money. But its strength is also its weakness. The larger size leads to more process and usually bureaucracy & politics. A risk averse culture and zero focus and sense of urgency among the teams. All opposite to a good startup who has the opportunity to attack a problem with a blank piece of paper, a new orthogonal approach and lower cost structure that could upend the established business model. Also all the immeasurable soft stuff like culture, energy, mission, focus & morale.
The “Soft stuff” is the hard stuff as they say. There are so many critical things in war and in business you just cannot measure it. Like culture & leadership for example. How often have you looked at the balance sheet of a company and it looks incredibly healthy. But then you walk around the office or talk to people and you realize how incredibly broken the business or culture is? Way more times than I can count.
You cannot know how brave or capable someone is in a situation until it happens. I am personally in awe of my Ukrainian friends.
With the proof of awful atrocities coming out of Bucha and Irpin against civilians by the barbaric Russian army, no Ukrainian will back down now. Neither should anyone supporting Ukraine against the Russian aggressors either.
I remind many of my Western friends, this should be no different than how any of us lucky people here would feel or do if someone came, invaded and attacked our home and family. I would hope we would stand up and fight too.
This is as close to a clear good and evil as anyone has seen in history in my view. It’s right (Ukraine) versus wrong (Russia) and anyone who says otherwise can unfriend me and F — k off.
So please continue to support Ukraine against the Rashists (Russian Fascists) army. This is not just an attack on Ukraine but an attack on the ideals of the Western liberal order, democracy, international law, sovereignty, morality and decency. The Russian army has had a long, evil tradition of raping and looting there way through Eastern Europe and Germany even back in World War 2. These modern day barbarians must be defeated.
Please support the Ukrainian Armed Forces: https://armysos.com.ua
Please support Ukrainian companies: https://spendwithukraine.com
Please support the organizations helping the estimated 5M Ukrainian refugees who have fled Ukraine for safety. These are very worthy Charities here: https://wck.org, https://help.rescue.org/donate/ukraine-acq, https://www.care.org & https://novaukraine.org.
And remember: do not discount the soft stuff like culture, morale and leadership as this is THE critical factor of success in anything you do or build. Slava Ukraini!