A Worthwhile Management Book

Thomas E. Ricks’ book, “The Generals”, is the history and essentially a performance evaluation of more than a dozen US Army Generals from World War II through 2012. It is not very flattering for some generals.

It is a well-written management and leadership book. Although not intended to be a textbook its examples of what led to successes and failures may be helpful for civilian business managers – including members of Boards of Directors and Chief Executive Officers.

Although the entire book is interesting, its reading can be limited to the first chapter. It covers General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, and describes how he built the Army into an effective fighting force in World War II. Marshall was faced with two equally daunting issues – people and equipment.

In 1939 the Army was too small in the total number of officers and enlisted personnel. Its leadership was poor and needed to be overhauled. There was not enough equipment and what was available was too antiquated to be effective – most of it dated from World War I. He started in 1939 with an unqualified for battle 197,000 soldiers led largely by inept senior officers and ended in 1945 with 8.3 million and victory.

General Marshall’s leadership and management tenets included a “brutally” straightforward style with everyone including President Roosevelt – he practiced “speak truth to power”. He employed the management practice of “removal” of any senior officer with substandard performance – he fired hundreds to build a successful organization. He was a “tough taskmaster” – but consistent, rational and respected throughout the Army’s ranks.

For a more complete summary of the book click on this link: “The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today” by Thomas E. Ricks.

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Chief Executive Officer

Executive Chairman

Turnarounds & Operational Restructurings

Adviser to creditors, board of directors or owners

Pre-acquisition & troubled company due diligence evaluations

Develop strategic and operating plans - including Court required plans of reorganization

Acquisition advice and negotiations

Serve as Member Board of Directors

Testify in Federal and State Court

Reason I wrote my book “Learn to Whisper”

Click on this link for a more complete description of “Learn to Whisper”

The reason I wrote “Learn to Whisper”:

My conclusion after operating as a Turnaround Chief Executive Officer for more than twenty-five years is that the majority of this country’s top management is far from first-rate. In fact top management, particularly at the chief executive officer level, is at best average with a large number that can be rated mediocre. This lack of management competence has seen this country’s market leaders lose sizeable market share to foreign manufacturers able to export better quality and lower cost products to the USA. It has seen manufacturing and service operations unnecessarily moved to foreign countries. All of which has negatively affected the economy, severely damaged former blue-chip corporations and seen quality jobs lost.

It is quite common to discover that companies struggling with this inability to compete with foreign companies have been simply mismanaged. The once successful business deteriorated because of an incompetent chief executive officer and weak senior management

Why doesn’t this nation have first-rate management? Inadequate training. Chief executive officers and vice presidents learn “on the job”. A number get promoted based on personality, political connections and drive – not merit. They are not carefully screened for the potential to become successful at managing. For some all that is needed is a well-written resume, the right interviewing style and the inability of a new employer to accurately assess skills, performance and potential.

Compare this to the process doctors go through. From medical school to internship to residency to a senior role after years of education, experience and continuous training their progress and capabilities are constantly monitored even after they become senior in the profession. Generals and Admirals go through a similar protocol. They must prove themselves in low-level assignments before they are judged qualified for senior positions. Unqualified applicants in both professions are culled out. What can be done to improve management competence? Education, on-the-job training and job performance monitoring. My book will educate people on the subject of managing. Its 101 management lessons are separated into the 17 subjects managers need to know.