Frequently, I have been asked, “Which is the best managed?”
I've never hesitated, not even a heartbeat, to answer.
The United States Army.
Yes, you're laughing.
So have all my audiences.
But, it's true.
The laughter dies when they realize I'm not joking and there's a pause as they wait expectantly for me to explain.
I do, simply.
As they consider this, I interrupt their thoughts with one more challenge.
“By the way,” I add, “when you get there, someone is going to be shooting at you.”
This final part usually elicits a chuckle.
Then, I wait for someone to accept the challenge.
No one ever does.
Interestingly, over the years, as I've visited so many organizations, I've discovered vestiges of the influence brought by other veterans who preceded me. Sometimes it's subtle. Other times, blatant.
For example, a couple decades ago I found private consultants visiting corporations to introduce them to the Functional Filing System. (I'm not sure if that's still used in the Army or any other branch of the services today.)
Employees were told to move their personal effects to one drawer only before leaving for the weekend. When they returned the following workday, they found their files and desks completely reorganized and were warned to not attempt to put anything back the way it was. After a brief period of rebellion, they settled into the new structure and benefited from it.
Sadly, modern American corporations seem to be more under the pall of governmental bureaucracy than military discipline. As government regulations address more and more of the minutia of business, corporate employees become more like bureaucrats. Even more sadly, corporate employees begin thinking more like bureaucrats, more concerned with following regulations than with profitable growth.
Ultimately, I think that businesses have to rediscover customer-oriented marketing. They need to hire veterans and allow them to introduce the concepts of mission-orientation.
Do you think they can while government continues to micro-manage business through intrusive regulation?