Turn The Ship Around

"Turn the Ship Around"
by David Marquet
Part 1: Starting Over
#1: Pain
Empowerment programs appeared to be a reaction to the fact that we had actively disempowered people
#2: Business as Usual
Leader-follower structure can be effective, as long as you're measuring short-term effects: the leader becomes indispensable
It induces numbness: absolves subordinates of the hard work of thinking, making decisions, and being responsible and accountable
#3: Change of Course
What must leaders overcome mentally and emotionally to give up control yet retain full responsibility?
#4: Frustration
Are you asking questions to make sure *they* know ("questioning"), or to make sure *you* know ("curious")?
Being ignorant was the necessary step to being curious
The time to being questioning or even critical is after trust has been established
#5: Call to Action
Do people take action to protect themselves, or to make the outcome better?
Does leadership in the organization take control, or give control?
#6: Whatever they tell me to do
leader-follower structures have a pervasive influence & cost
passivity of staff
lack of initiative
waiting for others
department head's paralysis without the presence of their manager
#7: I relieve you
Mechanism: achieve excellence, don't just avoid errors
Part 2: Control
#8: Change, in a word
Instead of trying to change mind-sets and then try to change the way we acted, we would start acting differently and the new thinking would follow
You can't invoke leader-follower rules to direct a shift towards leader-leader: people need to deliberate make the decision to change
"we say the Chiefs run the Navy. Is that really the case?"
Have an honest conversation about what the "chiefs" running the ship would mean
Mechanism: Rewriting the "genetic code": find ways to delegate control and decision-making
"When I think of delegating a decision, I worry about...."
Empowerment programs are flawed because they are predicated on this assumption: I have the authority and ability to empower you (and you don't.) This is fundamentally disempowering.
#9: Welcome aboard Santa Fe
"Caring but not caring": caring intimately about your subordinates and your organization, but caring little about the organizational consequences to yourself
Mechanism: acting your way to new thinking: change your behaviour and hope a change in thinking will follow
#10: Underway on nuclear power
The desire to present the boss "perfect" product the first time gets in the way of efficiency, because significant effort can be wasted
Mechanism: short, early conversations make efficient work
#11: I intend to...
The key to becoming more proactive rests in the languate subordinates and superiors use
"Request permission" is disempowering
"I intent to" is empowering
"I intend to..." may lead to asking questions about the context
"What do you think I am thinking about your intention?"
eventually, officers would outline their complete thought process and rationale for what they were about to do
The goal was for officers to give me a sufficiently complete report so that all I had to do was to give a simple approval
This caused them to think at the next higher level
#12: Up scope
Mechanism: resist the urge to provide solutions
take time to let others react to the situation as well
this requires to anticipate decisions and alert your team about the need to make one
recognize that the vast majority of situations are not emergencies that require immediate decision
How many times do issues that require decisions come up in short notice? If this is happening a lot, you have a reactive organization locked in a downward spiral
#13: Who's responsible?
adherence to process frequently becomes the objective, as opposed to achieving the objective that the process was put in place to achieve. The goal then becomes to avoid errors in the process, and when errors are made, additional overseers are added
Do you have a system focused on understanding status, rather than getting work done?
"we will keep track of you and your work, and monitor your performance": we will enforce (somehow) the performance of your job
this erodes a more powerful message: you are responsible for your job
Mechanism: eliminate top-down monitoring systems
don't preach and hope for ownership: instead implement mechanisms that actually give ownership
you want to avoid mechanisms where senior staff are determining what junior staff should be doing
#14: A new ship
If you limit all discussions to crisp orders and eliminate all contextual discussion, you get a pretty quiet control room. We cultivated the opposite approach, and encouraged a constant buzz of discussion. By monitoring the level of buzz, more than the actual content, I got a good gauge of how well the ship was running and whether everyone was sharing information.
Mechanism: think out loud
I heard what the officers were thinking, making it easier for me to stay out and let them execute their plans
When the Captain thinks out loud, it imparts context and experience to the subordinates, as well as modeling that lack of certainty is strength and certainty is arrogance.
#15: We have a problem
Mechanism: Embrace the Inspectors
we would utilize the inspectors to disseminate our ideas throughout the squadron, to learn from others, and to document the issues of the ship
We viewed inspectors as advocates to share our good practices with, and as source of information and solutions for our problems.
Part 3: Competence
#16: Mistakes just happen
Training implies a knowledge deficiency: "what question do you think they would have gotten wrong?"
Mechanism: Take deliberate action
Prior to any action, the operator would pause and vocalize and gesture towards what they were about to do
Only after taking a deliberate pause, they would execute the action. The intent was to eliminate the "automatic" mistakes
It also allows adjacent operators to step in and correct mistaken actions before they were taken
#17: We learn
As authority is delegated, technical knowledge at all levels takes on greater importance
If all you do is to follow orders, then you don't really need to understand your craft
"Learning" is better than "training"
Training is passive
Learning is active, is what you do
The role of training is to increase technical competence, leading to increase delegation, resulting in more engagement, motivation and initiative
Mechanism: we learn (everywhere, all the time)
instead of looking at tasks as just a chore, look at it as the opportunity to learn more about the associated piece of equipment, the procedure, or if nothing else, about how to delegate or accomplish tasks.
#18: Underway for San Diego
Mechanism: don't brief, certify
Are people coming to be "briefed" or are they ready to present their portion of the event?
Make sure the team knows the meeting is a decision meeting about whether they are ready to perform the procedure
It puts more work on management than leader-follower does, because management needs not only to identify what near-term events will be accomplished, but also the role each member of the team will be fulfilling.
It's a mechanism that enforces intellectual engagement at every level
#19: All present and accounted for
Mechanism: continually and consistently repeat the message
old habits die hard
it was difficult for them to create a picture of what they were trying to accomplish
They hear and think they know what you mean, but they don't
They are not being intentionally deceitful; they are just not picturing what you're picturing
#20: Final preparations
Mechanism: specify goals, not methods
Part 4: Clarity
#21: Underway for deployment
Mechanism: build trust and take care of your people
taking care extends beyond their work life
taking care does not mean protecting them from the consequences of their actions; that's the path to irresponsibility
taking care means giving them every available tool and advantage to achieve their aims in life
#22: A remembrance of war
Mechanism: Use your legacy for inspiration
#23: Leadership at every level
Mechanism: use guiding principles for decision criteria
If I were a crew member and faced with deciding between two different courses of action, which principles would provide me with the right criteria to make a decision?
guiding principles need to accurately represent the real organization, not the imagined one
#24: A dangerous passage
Mechanism: use immediate recognition to reinforce desired behaviour
Look at your structures for awards: do they pitch some employees against others? that structure will result in competition at every level
establish "man-vs-nature" rather than "man-vs-man" awards
#25: Looking ahead
Mechanism: begin with the end in mind
#26: Combat effectiveness
Mechanism: Encourage a questioning attitude rather than blind obedience
#27: Homecoming
To move towards leader-leader
Identify where excellence is created in your organization
internal processes
interface process
with customers
with the physical world
Then, figure out what decisions the people the people responsible for the interfaces need to make
Finally, understand what it would take to get those employees to make those decisions
right technical knowledge
thorough understanding of the organization's goals
authority to make the decisions
responsibility for the consequences of the decisions made
Do you have the stamina for long-term thinking?
#28: A new method for re-supplying
Mechanism: don't empower, emancipate
we're recognizing the genious, energy, and creativity in all people, and allowing those talents to emerge
we realize that we don't have the power to use them, only to prevent them from coming out
You know that you have emancipated people when you no longer have the need to "empower" them: they are no longer relying on you as the source of power.
#29: Ripples