Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines

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9780066619781: Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines

What's the best-run enterprise in the world? It just may be the Marine Corps.

Far from being the hidebound, autocratic entity that most people imagine, the Corps has created a stunningly nimble, almost freewheelingly adaptive organization. The result: Though often faced with extraordinarily dynamic and complex challenges, the Marines get the job done every time.

Their secret? Don't think boot camp. Instead, the Marines have refined a wide-ranging system of management practices that have undergone continuous evolution under the most demanding conditions conceivable. Armed with these straightforward principles, any organization can achieve the high-impact responsiveness demanded by today's ultra-competitive, fast-changing business environments.

In Corps Business, author David H. Freedman brings these principles--and their application to the business world--to light in clear, fascinating form. Freedman brings you along to observe, firsthand the high-speed Marine environment, where you'll take part in urban combat practice maneuvers, sit in on mission planning sessions, spend time on a "floating invasion party," and participate in a live-fire combat exercise. Along the way, you'll tap the wisdom of scores of Marines from three-star generals to grunts. Here are some examples:

Managing by end-state--Tell people what needs to be accomplished and why, and leave the details to them.

The 70-percent solution--It's better to decide quickly on an imperfect plan than to spend time considering every angle and roll out a perfect plan when it's too late.

Authority on demand--While retaining a strong management pyramid, encourage people even at the lowest levels to make any and all decisions necessary to accomplish the mission when management guidance isn't at hand.

Anyone facing entrenched or predatory competitors, short time frames, chaotic markets, and obstacles in every direction, has a simple choice: Learn to move fast, change on the fly, and inspire employees--or die. The Marines are here to help.

With a foreword by Gen. Charles C. Krulak, Thirty-first Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

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Review:

Several business bestsellers in recent years have been books about warfare strategy and tactics. Sun Tsu's Art of War and Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings are titles widely recommended for insight and inspiration preparatory to corporate battle. In Corps Business, author David Freedman examines the organization and culture of the United States Marine Corps and sees "the best management training program in America."

For this book Freedman, a senior editor at Forbes ASAP and author of Brainmakers, trained with the Corps and interviewed scores of marines of every rank to discover 31 management principles "built around simple truths about human nature and the uncertainties of dynamic environments.... The Marines are used to facing entrenched enemies, short time-frames, chaotic conflicts, and unfavorable terrain --all of which have come to be hallmarks of the New Economy." Some of the ideas that Freedman encountered include Principle No. 1: "Aim for the 70-percent solution. It's better to decide quickly on an imperfect plan than to roll out a perfect plan when it's too late"; Principle No. 13: "Manage by end state and intent. Tell people what needs to be accomplished and why, and leave the details to them"; and Principle No. 21: "Establish a core identity. Everyone in the organization should feel they're performing an aspect of the same job." It's hard to argue with two centuries of battlefield success, and the wisdom and time-tested management philosophy dissected here should be a valuable prescriptive for any organization hell-bent on winning. --Scott Harrison

About the Author:

David H. Freedman is a journalist specializing in business and technology. He is a senior editor at Forbes ASAP, and his work has appeared in Inc., the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, Wired, Science, and the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of two critically acclaimed books on artificial intelligence and (with Charles C. Mann) on computer hacking.

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