Saturday, September 25, 2004

"Battle Ready" by General Tony Zinni and Tom Clancy

It started with The Guru Red Manifesto. The guys at Guru Red say you only need to read three business books: The Art of War, The Book of Five Rings, and Warfighting. The Marine Corps Way is the only thing you need to know to be competitive in modern business. Then there were the two women on CNBC, ex-Marines, starting their own leadership training program in the corporate world (sorry, can't find the link). I'm following this trend of all you ever needed to know the Marine Corps teach us.

"Battle Ready" is not the most compelling read. From Amazon:
Battle Ready follows the evolution of both General Zinni and the Marine Corps, from the cauldron of Vietnam through the operational revolution of the seventies and eighties, to the new realities of the post-Cold War, post-9/11 military-a military with a radically different job and radically different tools for accomplishing it. It is an eye-opening book-a front-row seat to a man, an institution, and a way of both war and peace that together make this an instant classic of military history.
I agree with all of it. Partway through the book, Zinni discusses the Marine Corps Qualities and Values. Here they are:

One: Our first identity as Marines is to be a Marine. The proper designation for each Marine from privates to generals is “Marine”.

Two: Every Marine has to be qualified as a rifleman. Every marine is a fighter. We have no rear area types. All of us are warriors.

Three: We feel strong about our traditions that anyone else. We salute the past. This is not merely ritual or pageantry. It is part of the essence of the Marine Corps. One of the essential subjects every Marine has to know is his Corps’ history; he has to take it in and make it an essential part of himself.

Four: We carry a sense of responsibility for those who went before us, which ends up meaning a lot to Marines who are in combat. We don’t want to let our predecessors down or taint our magnificent heritage.

Five: We make the most detailed and specifically significant demands on our people in terms of iron discipline and precise standards. Yet, we have the greatest tolerance for mavericks and outside-the-box thinkers. This also means we are an institution where people are judged on their performance and not their opinions.

Six: We have a reputation for innovation. We adapt and overcome.

Seven: We aren’t tied down to fixed techniques and doctrines. We have never been hidebound doctrinaires. We are more flexible and adaptable; concepts based rather than doctrine based. That is, we really believe in the individual. We don’t like big proscriptive structures. We really believe that if we educate and train our leaders and our officers to take charge, and give them broad conceptual guidelines, but don’t bind them to these as strict “doctrinal” necessity, they’ll do a better job.

Eight: We are by our nature “expeditionary”. This means several things. It means a high state of readiness; we can go at a moment’s notice. It means our organization, our equipment, our structure are designed to allow us to deploy very efficiently. We don’t take anything we don’t need. We’re lean, we’re slim, we’re streamlined. We don’t need a lot of “stuff” – whether it is equipment or comforts. We can make do with what we have.

It’s a mindset, too, about being ready to go, about being ready to deployed, and about flexibility. Finally, it is how we organize, prepare, and train.

I am really exploring this Marine concept. Its about branding and knowing who you are and what you are capable of doing. It is about a commitment to your people and your "customers". It is about being flexible and adaptable without diluting your brand or your service offerings. It is about learning and growing and improving. It is about NOT losing sight of who you are and what you are about.

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