Saturday, April 03, 2010

Semper Fi, by Dan Carrison & Rod Walsh- recent book read

Semper Fi, Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way

I have a problem with a reading appetite that is a bit out of control, so I end up collecting books that I need to read. Got this one off the shelf recently after reading It's Your Ship, by D. Michael Abrashoff. Wanted to follow the "transfer military leadership to the business world" theme.

To sum up my thoughts on the book, it is of the genre of many business management texts: basic leadership principles interspersed with examples and anecdotes. I think of these types of books as business management cotton candy. Nice, but not likely to change anyone's life. I am proud to count myself as a service member, and see much value in what was said.

There are also principles that I believe probably won't transfer as well for a number of reasons. I think a quote from one of the reviewers is spot on- "Business can seem like war. But war really is war,....." Just as I cringe when people use war and military metaphors to describe sports, there is a part of me that thinks in a similar way, when trying to make business seem like war. Maybe it is like war when you are doing business in a mafia-style environment, or working with drug cartels, but when you are doing home-improvement retail it is a competition, not a war. It is a competition that you could lose, and jobs can be lost, etc. But that is a very different proposition from what it is like to go through war.

In fact, there are some strong arguments to be made for the value of having a strong competitor to help your business outcomes. Coke vs Pepsi, Nike vs Reebok, Lowe's vs Home Depot, Citi vs Bank of America (maybe that last one isn't useful given recent financial issues...).  Business rivalries push each participant to deliver to the best of their abilities- in this sense, comparing sports to business may be a better approach than comparing either to war.

In any case, there are many management practices within the military that can be applied in business environments, and many of them are discussed in Carrison and Walsh's book. If you'd like to learn a bit more about the Marine culture in the context of how it might transfer to improving your business management approach, this is a great book for you.

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