Technology & Tactics (A lesson from the Civil War)

When tactics lag behind technology, there are consequences.

The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in our history.

In Pickett's famous charge at Gettysburg, the Confederate company from Ole Miss, known as the "University Greys" suffered 100% casualties. That number represents 135 of the 139 student volunteers. The thought of that is awful.

How is it that leaders could let this happen to their men?

The primary cause was military tactics. Leaders of both sides were educated at West Point before numerous Civil War weapons were invented. With small arms technology outpacing the tactics leadership had learned, men were sent out into open fields to charge fortified positions. Failure to create new tactics to match technological advances amplified the worst parts of the war.

Technology will always outpace its use cases. We have to have the technology available to us to figure out how we can leverage it.

Construction technology is no different. We are in an electronic era, and as an industry, we are consistently outpaced by technology. New tools and applications abound, but they have come out in a volume that hasn't allowed us to be familiar enough with them to change our tactics. The result? We continue to do what we know.

Just like the West Point leaders who were trained in the best tactics, a military school could teach, the construction industry of today employs the tactics it knows. RFI chains, paper drawings, scheduling, quality control, and safety are being disrupted by new technology.

As an industry leader, please stay curious and creative. Don't only lean back on what you did yesterday. Respect what yesterday taught while staying curious about what tomorrow might bring. History will judge our inability to adapt and change. Construction is widely known for being outpaced by its technology, but also every other industry around.

What tactics do you see that need to change?

by Eddie Campbell