The first lesson-from-history article (11-11-05 DM Review) looked at how in May 1940, within Winston Churchill's administration, a real-time decision-making environment was created.

The second lesson-from-history article (05-19-06 DM Review) examined the Bentley Priory decision-making environment, at the center of an integrated air defense system, and part of an overall sense-and-respond system used by Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command under Air Marshall Hugh Dowding.

The third lesson-from-history article (08-18-06 DM Review) examined the supply chain run by Whitehall and how Lord Beaverbrook introduced the concepts of agility to improve the efficiency of the supply chain.

The fourth lesson-from-history article (11-17-06 DM Review) examined in more detail the third area, Bletchley Park, the role of intelligence, and ultimately Knowledge Management.

The fifth lesson-from-history article (01-16-07 DM Review) examined in more detail the fourth area, Storey's Gate, the Map Room and the executive dash board for Churchill.

The sixth lesson-from-history article (02-13-07 DM Review) examined Storey's Gate and the Cabinet War Rooms, a collaborative environment for decision making environment, and its relationship to the Map Room.

The seventh lesson-from-history article (03-30-07 DM Review) examined how the basic components of the solution came together and were integrated into a sense and respond solution.

The eighth lesson-from-history article (04-27-07 DM Review) examined how the interfaces for information exchange and the solution was integrated and prepared for testing and operation.

The ninth lesson-from-history article (07-10-07 DM Review) examined how the solution was tested to the breaking point and put into operation as a "sense and respond" or adaptive solution in readiness for the forthcoming air battle.


In May 1940, Churchill, faced with an imminent invasion, ran a project that integrated four areas into a solution. These were all at different levels of development and maturity, and included Bentley Prior, the Whitehall supply chain for fighter production, Bletchley Park and Storey's Gate (see Figure 1). This tenth lesson-from-history article examines how Churchill set up a governance framework to transform the UK and support the solution as shown in Figure 1. The term governance as used in industry (especially in the IT sector) describes the processes that need to exist for a successful project.



Churchill inherited a governance framework but knew it was flawed as he faced insistent criticism that there was no central direction of the economic effort. His disparate organizations consisted of government, military and civilian groups that were well-organized and highly institutionalized structures, but had unique cultures, acted autonomously and were used to working in their own ways. The armed forces had evolved independently, without much need to interface with each other, jockeying for resources, and even had their own lexicons. The Royal Navy considered itself unique, and was reluctant to closely cooperate or share resources with the British Army or its junior partner, the Royal Air Force (Part 6).


Following Dunkirk on June 6 Churchill wrote to Eden: “We are indeed the victors of a feeble and weary departmentalism.” This reflected the desire for change. Churchill had to reign in these organizations, particularly the military, deconstruct the vertical silos and reconstruct a horizontal enterprise view of total warfare. He had to resist pressures, politics and prioritize the choices, and integrate these organizations to fight for a single purpose. To achieve this transformation, he needed a governance framework that worked and compliance to that framework. He also had to deal with adoption of his project, selling the nation and overcoming barriers to success.


For many projects today, a governance framework is essential to guide it, particularly when the project has to work across silos or the solution is enterprise wide. Typically, the biggest problem is that of boundaries and jurisdiction. Most projects are likely to come under the auspices of a body like a PMO that provides guidance in creating a framework to deal with the project structure, roles, responsibilities, authority and competencies. It also adjudicates when it overlaps with other projects.


Churchill had been the Minister for War Production in the First World War. He was responsible for scaling up tank manufacturing, an emerging technology that could have an enormous impact on the stalemate warfare of the trenches. He oversaw the production of over 350 tanks, enough to use in a large-scale offensive at Cambrai with significant results. He had seen firsthand the importance of closely aligning industry (civilian) with military demand under government auspices.


Churchill’s first change to the governance framework was to create four new ministries:


  • Aircraft production (initiated May 17 because of priorities) – Its goal, importantly, was to take aircraft manufacturing away from the Air Ministry. Churchill believed the Air Ministry had failed to meet its targets. The dramatic move was in itself an indication of the commitment now set to fighter aircraft.
  • Defense - It would become the primary focus of everything, a new post to control the course of the war.
  • Food production - It would ensure the nation’s food supply as the UK was under siege and surrounded by a submarine blockade.
  • Economic warfare - It would look at all aspects of the war and look for opportunities for putting pressure on the enemy. This ministry would also examine the independent procurement processes of the armed forces that were putting pressure on scare resources and raw materials.

In addition:


  • He embedded into the War Cabinet the military arms or Chiefs of Staff (CoS) to take part in all cabinet meetings so he could build up a close relationship through daily contact.
  • He took the position of Minister of Defense to be in a position to put forward a suggestion that had to be considered by the CoS. He was always keen to listen to hear other's views and change his mind if so persuaded. He had always been a conduit for new ideas and projects (Part 2).
  • He greatly reduced the role of the Treasury so it didn’t become a bottleneck and allow financial restrictions to compromise the short-and long- term objectives (Part 9). After all, the very survival of the UK was at stake.
  • He had a lot more power than Lloyd George had in the First World War and could dismiss or elevate anyone to any position. He had almost dictatorial powers over the CoS and the government, but he never overruled the CoS, who had the final say in military matters.
  • He instituted two Defence Committees, one for operations, the other for supply, both infinitely flexible bodies which endured to the end of the war.
  • He reduced the number of committees which ministers were expected to attend to keep them focused.
  • He introduced a new system of handling briefs and introduced action this day, a label affixed to papers and directives.
  • He insisted on written evidence of decisions on plan.
  • He initiated the Economic Section of the Offices of the War Cabinet and the Central Statistical Office. One of the major limitations of central economic control was aggravated by the lack of good economic information.

Other changes to the governance framework followed but the significance of these initial changes was to align to the strategy Churchill laid out with his short- and long- term objectives.


Through a revised governance framework, Churchill started to break down barriers between vertical organizations. Churchill, with the Chiefs of Staff embedded in the War Cabinet, was the core of the system and a war-winning framework. The grand war strategy was run in a rational and logical way, with checks and balances. It continued unchanged from the summer of 1940 until the war was won.


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