Delivering Flexibility through People: Harnessing Human Capability [in the RAF]

Discussion Paper Title

Delivering Flexibility through People: Harnessing Human Capability.


This is the second of two papers arguing for greater organisational flexibility in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Necessarily broad in scope, they consider the consequences of a systematic move towards a strategy that prioritises flexibility against the components of Kenneth Galbraith’s Star Model.

Whilst the first paper focused on structures and processes, this one considers the people and reward implications of becoming more flexible. It continues the theme of challenge in order to provoke debate in the Service, and takes as its starting point the need for greater diversity and differentiation in the workforce.

This paper proposes some new approaches to recruitment, talent management, education and reward systems so that the RAF can attract, incentivise and develop the people it needs for the future. It argues for a greater emphasis on talent management and professional military education beyond the Executive Stream, with a greater focus on the non-technical skills that underpin flexibility, such as learning how (rather than what) to think, problem solving and how to manage conflict so that its creative value is exploited.

Finally, it talks about the challenges of organisational culture and how this has to be changed if a new strategy is to be embedded in the RAF’s DNA. Whilst the paper supports the current focus on human capability, it cautions that it needs to complement appropriate investment in the RAF’s physical and conceptual components.


Pages from Air Power Review 18(1), Spring 2015, p.66-88


O’Neill, P. (2015) Delivering Flexibility through People: Harnessing Human Capability. Air Power Review. Spring 2015. 18(1), pp.66-88.


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