The best damn ship

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It’s Your Ship – Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

“In this book, former Navy Captain D. Michael Abrashoff boils down the management and leadership techniques that helped his ship, the Benfold, become ‘the best damn ship in the Navy.’ His 11 fundamentals are equally applicable in the business world. …

3.  Listen Aggressively

  • ‘Shortly after I took command of the Benfold, I vowed to treat every encounter with every person on the ship as the most important thing at that moment. It wasn’t easy for me, and I didn’t do it perfectly, but my crew’s enthusiasm and smart ideas kept me going.’
  • See the ship through the crew’s eyes. ‘I decided that my job was to listen aggressively and to pick up every good idea the crew had for improving the ship’s operation. … After all, the people who do the nuts-and-bolts work on a ship constantly see things that officers don’t. … My first step was trying to learn the names of everyone aboard. It wasn’t easy. Try attaching 310 names to 310 faces in one month.’
  • ‘I tried to establish a personal relationship with each crew member. I wanted to link our goals, so that they would see my priority of improving the Benfold as an opportunity for them to apply their talents and give their jobs a real purpose.’

4.  Communicate Purpose and Meaning

  • ‘The whole secret of leading a ship or managing a company is to articulate a common goal that inspires a diverse group of people to work hard together.’
  • ‘It finally hit me that people were just showing up to collect a paycheck every two weeks. They were locking their passion and enthusiasm inside their cars in the parking lot and just bringing their bodies to work. … I realized what was missing: No one had ever thought to give them a compelling vision of their work, a good reason to believe it was important.’
  • Make your crew think ‘We can do anything’ .
  • Communicate communicate communicate
    • ‘The antidote is obvious: Keep talking. Tell everyone personally what’s in store for him or her—new goals, new work descriptions, new organizational structure, and yes, job losses, if that’s the case. Explain why the company is making the changes. People can absorb anything if they are not deceived or treated arrogantly.’ …
    • ‘No matter how fantastic your message is, if no one is receiving it, you aren’t communicating. You must have mastery of all means of communication, along with the willingness to use them—otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself.'”

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