Saturday, November 28, 2009

Organizing Principles

An acquaintance of mine, who used to be a Navy fighter pilot and now works in marketing, explained to me one night over dinner that the Air Force and the Navy have very different organizing principles. It was these organizing principles that helped him choose between the Air Force and the Navy way back when he decided to become a fighter pilot.

The Air Force gives you a very thick book of things you CAN do. Anything not specifically mentioned in this book is not allowed. This means that all of your actions are completely regulated, including how you fly your plane. By implication, the Air Force is more likely to attract talent that likes being told exactly what to do.

The Navy gives you a somewhat thinner book of things you CAN'T do. Anything not specifically mentinoned in this book is allowed. This means you have to rely on your own judgement to solve problems because someone realized that it isn't possible to anticipate all the problems you may face. By implication, the Navy is more likely to attract talent that is adept at solving problems creatively.

Now consider these questions:

1) Is you company more like the Air Force or the Navy?
2) What kind of talent do you want to attract and retain?
3) Is there a possible mismatch?

3 comments:

  1. I think I would prefer the book of what I can't do! The other just sounds too time consuming!

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  2. I like that but I'm afraid I'm the dumbest of them all and would want both books. xoxo

    SC

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  3. That's a really good point, Beth. Who says it has to be one or the other? I mean, OK, I kind of did, but I like your point about mixed approaches.

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