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How can private-sector best practices be implemented to improve talent management in the United States military and the broader national security enterprise? Serving military officers answer here in a new series of features in collaboration with Military Leadership Circle (MLC). Military personnel recruitment and retention have long been important and broadly-discussed issues across all five branches of the United States armed forces.  Recently, these topics have taken on new urgency, given the need for uniformed personnel who are capable of understanding and managing rapid technological development and operations in the cyber domain. How can the military attract and keep the best and most qualified technical experts? What aspects of the military’s rigid, hierarchical personnel system are absolutely necessary, and which can and should be adjusted or eliminated in order to both appeal to recruits and employees and operate at the highest level of effectiveness? For answers, military leaders should unquestionably turn to the corporate sector, where innovative employment practices abound. The armed services benefit greatly from the discipline, accountability, and even traditions that come with many aspects of their human resource systems. Ranks provide a clear delineation of authority that is necessary in dangerous, quick-decision environments. Common accession sources (boot camp, officer candidate school) ensure consistency and shared identity. Occupational coding (“operational specialties” or “rates”) allows for clarity of roles and ensures development of specific expertise. That said, many current policies simply hinder the military in the competition for talent. Promotion processes are unnecessarily rigid: for officers, the number of years spent at a given rank is still the most important factor for promotion. Geographic instability is taxing on military families: career progression relies upon a willingness to move every 2-3 years. Extraneous requirements bar talented people from entry: broadly speaking, someone with a physical disability would be ineligible for uniformed service in a cyber security role that would not be hindered by said disability. Change is needed, and several corporate-based solutions should be explored. Some simple, common practices from the business world would obviously be helpful for the military: allow strong performers to stay in their positions without forcing them to promote; expand opportunities to stay in a geographic area; allow flexibility to leave the organization to pursue novel opportunities, and come back in at the same rank; remove restrictions on service for the physically disabled. In addition, the military branches could explore integrated work-life practices that are typical across the corporate world, such as telecommuting, work from home, flexible hours, bring your own device, and so forth. More ambitiously, in order to provide more job satisfaction and truly capitalize on the talents of their people, the armed services could explore the idea of business incubators that provide individuals with resources for innovative projects, as well as “corporate accelerator”-like programs that vault the best ideas forward, potentially providing top-level support to break down barriers (e.g. defense acquisition processes) and bring the best ideas to implementation faster. Ultimately, the military will have to adapt in order to find, attract, and keep the best people within its ranks. Luckily, the corporate world provides many examples of how to do just that. About the author: Kevin Duffy is a Commander in the United States Coast Guard and a member of the Military Leadership Circle. The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent the positions of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard, or any government agency. More information on the Military Leadership Circle can be found at https://militaryleadershipcircle.com.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.



And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.



It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.



In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.



Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.



This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?


We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?



Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?



Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.



Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.


These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.