skip to main content
Article Podcast Report Summary Quick Look Video Newsfeed triangle plus sign dropdown arrow Case Study All Search Facebook LinkedIn YouTube
Margaux Hoar
Download full report

For more than 30 years, CNA has conducted analyses to support military organizations through change and challenges. These numerous organizational analyses have aimed to design or redesign structures and processes to accommodate changes in mission, geopolitical circumstances, legislative requirements, and other variables. In performing over 40 of these analyses, we have identified several military organizational “pathologies”—common design choices or evolutions that result in corresponding “ills” (such as inefficiency, dysfunction, or even dissolution).

We have identified and named four types of pathologies related to organizational structure or alignment of roles and responsibilities that we have found to be particularly prevalent: multi-hatting, patchwork structures, homeopathy, and overflow. Although some aspects of these pathologies have documented parallels in nonmilitary domains, these four are particularly salient to the defense organizations we support. It is notable that structure and roles are not the only elements of significance in effective organizational design—the underlying processes, skill sets, and culture of an organization also matter.

As the saying goes in medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—and so, our aim is to illuminate military organizational pathologies in order to empower decision-makers to prevent them from developing in their own organizations. Below we describe each pathology and the implications we have seen.

Download full report

Distribution Statement A. Approved for public release; distribution unlimited.

This work was performed under Federal Government Contract No. N00014-16-D-5003.


  • Pages: 6
  • Document Number: DSI-2019-U-019362-Final
  • Publication Date: 2/4/2019