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Strategies for HCM Professionals

Creating a “Delta” Culture: HCM Lessons from a U.S. Solider #CeridianINSIGHTS

Igniting and nurturing change is a challenge at any organization, regardless of its size, industry or profitability. But change is particularly slow when it involves the mission to capture the “Ace of Spades,” Saddam Hussein.

At #CeridianINSIGHTS, Staff Sergeant Eric Maddox shared his story of how his innovation and perseverance within the U.S. military led to the eventual capture of American’s number one enemy during the early 2000s.

Finding the “Ace of Spades”

In 2003, three months after U.S. forces invaded Iraq, Staff Sergeant Maddox received unexpected orders to join the Delta Force Special Operations team in Tikrit.  The team was a part of the Joint Special Operations Command which was responsible for tracking down the most wanted men in the world.

The military tasked Maddox, who was a trained interrogator, with the assignment of gathering intelligence that would lead to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Unable to glean information using the already established techniques, Maddox developed his own interrogation approach that focused on earning detainees’ trust and respect. He conducted more than 300 interrogations using his new approach and eventually uncovered intel that directly led to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

3 tactics for igniting change in an organization

Drawing from his experience on the Delta Force Special Operations team, Maddox shared with #CeridianINSIGHTS attendees three principles that are essential for igniting change.

Strong culture. When he joined the Delta Force Special Operations Team, Maddox entered a culture whose members are immediately invested in making the team the best it can be. “The Delta culture is very simple. When you walk into their world, you have a responsibility to speak up if something can be done better. Not only do you have the right to do this, but it is the expectation.” In the same way, organizations should foster an environment that empowers employees to be agents of change.

Innovation. The key to Maddox’s success was his ability to adapt to the situation and innovate to create new methods for gathering information. Encouraging attendees to adopt a similar attitude of agility, he emphasized the importance of looking for new ways to approach problems – even when it’s not supported by decision makers in your organization.

Teamwork. Without the support of his team, the intel Maddox gathered would have been useless. The mutual respect and trust among the team members empowered the group to take calculated risks that eventually led to finding Saddam Hussein. Similarly, organizations must nurture and develop teams who feel confidant in working together to identify and address areas that need to be changed.

Maddox concluded the session by challenging attendees to step outside their comfort zone.

“When you’re put in the position to make a difference, you have to be willing to take risks,” Maddox said.

It is with this mentality that HCM leaders and those in the C-suite can create process, tactics and strategies that make work better for employees while also driving business results.

Stay tuned for more coverage from our annual customer forum, INSIGHTS, and follow #CeridianINSIGHTS on Twitter!

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Rachel Anderson is an HCM and small business writer at Ceridian. She manages Ceridian’s monthly newsletter, CeridianVoice, which delivers insanely useful insights and resources. When she’s not working on the newsletter, Rachel is creating eBooks, infographics, SlideShare presentations and other content focused on making life easier for HR and business professionals. Rachel loves to travel, drink tea, snuggle up with a good book, and go on family adventures with her husband and two-year-old son.


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