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Best Advice: From Barracks to Boardroom, How the Front Lines Made Me a Better Leader, by Chip Bergh, President and CEO Levi Strauss


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I love reading articles like this but I have one quibble with #8. "Disciplined units have vehicles parked in a perfect line, sparkling clean, fueled and ready to go to war at a moment's notice." One of the biggest duds in the history of the US Army was George B. McClellan, who was by all accounts a genius at getting armies READY to fight -- and therefore a strong peacetime general -- but a golden turd at actually FIGHTING. Slovenly and possibly drunkie Ulysses S Grant was the man who finally took that army out of its well-stocked encampments to, you know, win the war. Can you really tell that much about fighting ability from a sparkling clean motor pool?

Interesting example. I took point #8 as the need for discipline to succeed. I wasn't in the military so I don't have personal insight into how much a clean and well-organized motor pool predicts success in the field of battle. However, I do know that one of the primary mantras of the Navy SEAL's is "attention to detail." The little details don't seem to matter a lot...until they do.

Absolutely Rich... but WHICH little details is the question? For instance, I understand that SEALs and Delta Force generally look like poo -- scruffy, dirty, unshaven -- because they are selected for small-team problem-solving rather than spit-and-polish. Maybe the Army units that this author served with in Germany were of the opposite nature... after all, the American Army was in Germany in a somewhat symbolic role, rather than actively shooting people. So perhaps it all depends on the specific mission.

I think that's right: It all depends on the specific mission.

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