Book Cover

The poll to select the next book continues.

This week we are full ahead in our re-read of L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around! We continue the story of the USSN Santa Fe with Chapters 22 and 23.  These two chapters focus on how an organization’s legacy can be used to shape deliberate actions and why principles have to be tied to behavior and decisions to be useful.

Chapter 22: A Remembrance of War

The focusing question that starts this chapter is, “Do you have a rich organizational legacy?”  All organizations have a legacy. That legacy shapes its mission and its culture. Recognizing your organization’s legacy is a crucial step in addressing behavior and change.  

Marquet uses two stories in this chapter to drive his point home.  The first walks the reader through a story of an exercise in which the submarine gets stuck in a vertical dive.  Getting stuck vertical dive is one of those bad things that if not corrected will ram the boat into the bottom of the ocean or take it below crush level.  Practicing dealing with the potential problem is good risk mitigation. During the exercise, the crew learned that using the technique of deliberate actions also provides the opportunities to provide anticipatory instructions. Anticipatory instructions help grew members to foreshadow next steps.  An organization’s legacy is a tool to add context and anticipatory instructions to deliberate actions. Exercises are a reflection of the past, of experiences other boat ran into and either survived or did not.  Deliberate action is built under an understanding of what is required, current context and memory of the past.  

Mechanism: Use your legacy for inspirations.

As Marquet was exercising, the office on the watch called the attention of the crew to an area in which a submarine had been lost during World War II.  The attention on those that had gone before the Santa Fe highlights the mission of the Santa Fe and how that mission has persisted over time. Persistence highlights the importance of mission and goals (as highlighted in Chapter 20).   

Chapter 23: Leadership at Every Level

Marquet opens this chapter with the question, “Do your guiding principles help people in your organization make decisions?”  Values and principles that don’t translate into behavior and decisions are vacuous.

Marquet uses the story from his time at command leadership school in which he turned in a blank sheet of paper when prompted to pre-identify the guiding principles for when he takes command. Instead, Marquet’s process was to have the crew define the guiding principles for the boat. Value from guiding principles accrues if the principles are useful when crew members are facing a decision between different actions.  The principles need to help the decision maker to come up with the appropriate course of action.

Mechanism: Use guiding principles for decision criteria.

Marquet facilitated several sessions with Chiefs and then the officers to develop a set of lean principles that would be useful.  An important warning in this chapter is that in order to be effective, guiding principles have to accurately represent the principles of the real organization, not the imagined organization.  Jeff Dalton (President of Broadsword and a frequent visitor to the Software Process and Measurement Cast) uses the metaphor of a data-type mismatch. In programming, data-type mismatches generally cause fatal errors. When an organization has not aligned their principles (and values) to how they really act, values and principles will be pushed aside as they are background decorations that are interesting for awhile but irrelevant in the long run. 


Current Installment:

Week 14: Part IV and Under Way for Deployment

Previous Installments:

Week 13: Final Preparations –

Week 12: Underway for San Diego and All Present and Accounted For

Week 11: Mistakes Just Happen and We Learn

Week 10: A New Ship and We Have A Problem

Week 9: Up Scope! and ”A New Ship”

Week 8: Under Way on Nuclear Power and ”I Intend To . . .” –

Week 7: Change, In a Word and Welcome Aboard Sante Fe

Week 6: I Relieve You

Week 5: Call to Action and Whatever they tell me to do!

Week 4: Change of Course and Frustration

Week 3: Pain and Business as Usual

Week 2: Forward and Introduction

Week 1: Game Plan