Monday, July 7, 2014

Lean & the Military

By Pascal Dennis

Fine HBR piece by Gretchen Gavitt on Leadership & the Military

My experience suggests that the military teaches important virtues:
  • Clarity of purpose
  • Focus & commitment
  • Attention to detail
  • Respect for time
  • Teamwork
  • Integrity

Military training can also provide a solid foundation in core Lean methodologies like standardized work, Level 1/2/3 checking, and PDCA.

(The US Marines call the latter OODA – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.)

My many ex-military colleagues are among the most thoughtful and well-read people I know.

A military career entails endless training - and waiting - for trouble that will, hopefully, never materialize.

This gives intelligent, capable people plenty of time to read and reflect.

If you want to understand strategy, read Sun Tsu, Thucydides, Livy, Machiavelli, Jomini, von Clausewitz…

(Avoid the academics unless you’re sleepless.)

To be sure, the military is prone to the large organization’s ever-present dangers: bozos & bureaucracy.

Wise leaders, military & otherwise, support various types of ‘predators’ to keep the ‘2 B’s’ under control.

(Absent predators, bozos multiply, not unlike rabbits in Australia – with similar effects on the ecosystem.)

In closing, here’s a sharp salute to the men & women who serve and sustain this honorable & vital tradition.

Best regards,


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