Business-Ship to Ship Book Review

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It's Your Ship:
Management Techniques from the
Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff
Warner Books, 2002

Author's Page
Captain D. Michael Abrashoff is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and was a military assistant to the former secretary of defense, Dr. William J. Perry. He served as Commander of 310 men and women aboard the USS Benfold in the Pacific Fleet. Abrashoff left the Navy in 2001 and became the founder and CEO of Grassroots Leadership, Inc., in Boston.
Other Books
Get Your Ship Together, 2005
Ship Happens, Coming 2006

It's Your Ship Table of Contents
Ch.1 Take Command11
Ch.2 Lead by Example32
Ch.3 Listen Aggressively43
Ch.4 Communicate Purpose and Meaning54
Ch.5 Create A Climate of Trust63
Ch.6 Look for Results, Not Salutes82
Ch.7 Take Calculated Risks104
Ch.8 Go Beyond Standard Procedure118
Ch.9 Build Up Your People 140
Ch.10 Generate Unity168
Ch.11 Improve Your People's Quality of Life186
Ch. 12 Life After Benfold199
Epilogue Beyond Benfold208

Book Review Table of Contents
Title Page1
Author's Page2
It's Your Ship Table of Contents3
Book Review Table of Contents4
Executive Summary5
Take Command6
Lead By Example7
Listen Aggressively8
Communicate Purpose and Meaning9
Create a Climate of Trust10
Look For Results, Not Salutes10
Take Calculated Risks11
Go Beyond Standard Procedure12
Build Up Your People13
Generate Unity15
Improve Your People's Quality of Life15

Executive Summary

It's Your Ship, by Capt. D. Michael Abrashoff is good read on understanding the basics of what he calls grassroots leadership he developed while a Commander in the Navy. He takes the reader through the journey of having a cutting-edge ship handed over him, while finding his own leadership lacking his expectations. While defying conventional Navy leadership tactics, Abrashoff created "a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and responsibility for their actions." He ultimately succeeded in turning the USS Benfold into the "best damn ship in the Navy" in a matter of months. Within two years his ship became legendary inside and outside the Navy.

Abrashoff shares the valuable management skills he developed and effectively illustrates examples of how one can translate the same success in today's businesses. Highlighting key concepts such as: see the ship through the eyes of the crew, communicate purpose and meaning, lead by example, and build up your people. The vivid examples he uses from his naval history make the reading interesting while educational. It's Your Ship is a great book for any manager wanting to learn more on effective ways to better manage his employees.

Abrashoff begins the book by informing the reader of how his story begins; when he is given command of the USS Benfold. The Benfold was the Navy's most advanced guided missile destroyer the Navy had in 1997 and its command was to be one of the Navy's top innovators. Unfortunately, Abrashoff points out some flaws with the Navy's personnel management that I found to be shocking. First, was that "nearly 35 percent of the people who joined the military annually, wouldn't complete their enlistment contracts." (p.2) Such turnover can be understood by many business managers in the service industry, but unlike the quick and cheap training process for them, the cost for the military (taxpayers) is astounding. Abrashoff estimates that it cost roughly "$35,000 to recruit a trainee and tens of thousands more in additional training costs to get new personnel to the basic level of proficiency." (p.2) Curbing this...
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