Book Cover

Turn the Ship Around

Today we complete our re-read of Turn the Ship Around! with a few final thoughts.  Next week we will begin The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along).

As I have noted before, I was introduced originally to David Marquet’s remarkable book by Bill Fox (Bill’s website is Container 13) who suggested that I read the book and interview Captain Marquet for the Software Process and Measurement Cast. I did both.  If I remember correctly I read the book in over a weekend traveling between DC and Cleveland. The interview followed (SPaMCAST 202).  Over the years I have read the book’s workbook, a set of flashcards and generated numerous bookmarks for the Leadership Nudge (video).  This is the long around saying that I have been heavily influenced by Marquet’s work; an influence that is still growing.   

As we complete the re-read I received a few comments about the book.  They include:

Sandeep Koorse, BA, Scrum master and project manager,  provided a six word summary:

“From leader follower to leader leader”


Kim Pries, author and educator,  added:

“Care. Understand. Pull. Verify. Justice. Mission.”


I am partial to six work stories (the technique is one my favorites).  My six word summary for the book is:
“Growing leaders, better people, delivering value”


Steven Adams, agile coach, added to the conversation with the following:

Leadership really matters!  The Santa Fe went from last to first by harnessing the human potential already on-board. Marquet gives us a real story and a playbook on how-to emancipate a work group.  How to watch for and avoid the traps of falling back into the leader-follower model – which we are all so accustomed to! – and staying on-track with the leader-leader mindset.

It is easy to say that Turn the Ship Around is an important contribution to the leadership literature. The book establishes and popularizes the idea that everyone can be a leader.  The popularity is not just my opinion, Marquet is a highly sought after consultant and keynote speaker. If nothing else, keeping the list of mechanisms at your desk would be worthwhile.  What would be missing, however, is the nuances of leader-leader that are embedded in the story.

The downside to the book, highlighted by Sandeep, is that the trials and experiments that must have been part of building the model were not discussed.  The book presents a seamless evolution of event to mechanism that defies the vagaries of human nature. Sandeep and I disagree if the warts are needed if the book is viewed as a delivery vehicle for the mechanisms that operationalize the leader-leader model.  The story works for me; however I understand Sandeep’s critique.

Next week we will layout our approach to the re-read of The Checklist Manifesto  (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) by Atul Gawande. .

Previous Installments:

Week 18: A New Method of Resupplying and Ripples  –

Week 17: Combat Effectiveness and Homecoming

Week 16:  A Dangerous Passage and Looking Ahead

Week 15: A Remembrance of War and Leadership at Every Level

Week 14: Part IV and Under Way for Deployment

Week 13: Final Preparations –

Week 12: Underway for San Diego and All Present and Accounted Forhttps:/ /

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