Saturday, April 4, 2009

It’s Your Ship - An interesting read

If you are looking for a motivational book with practical examples of how to challenge the status-quo and innovate to enhance performance, I have a book for you. I just started reading It’s Your Ship by a Captain Michael Abrashoff and I’m gladly surprised by the quality of the advice and the clear/concise writing.

I first picked up the book about a year ago when the library at work was closing and giving away books, but I didn’t bother to open it until now. It looked like the typical management fad book with a bright red stripe with big letters on the cover. I totally expected it to suck as much as the last book I got form that library, A Visionary’s Handbook, which had half-baked ideas and obscure references to events from the late nineties that I have to recollection of.

When I first started reading It’s Your Ship I braced myself for a dry and obsolete lecture on the value of discipline in forming character (or some other square-minded, armed forces brainwasher) but instead I found a lively and practical story, which I have enjoyed so far. The main idea that the author tries to get across is quite straightforward: Motivated and empowered people can do great things. He uses specific examples from his career in he Navy to encourage the reader to challenge obsolete norms and build the confidence of all of those under your management chain (and through improved performance, the confidence of those above).

I specifically like the examples of how to “save taxpayers money” by taking suggestions from the performers and going outside the conventional channels to implement them. In one example he details how he reduced the number of times the ship had to be scraped, sanded and repainted from six times a year to once every few years. The interesting thing is that he did so by taking the suggestion of a sailor of replacing regular iron bolts with stainless steel bolts. To do so, the captain had to go to the local hardware store because the Navy didn’t carry these fasteners in stock and the bureaucracy to get them through the regular channel was stifling.

I am looking forward to implementing the ideas I’m picking up from this book in my day-to-day work. The specific of challenges I am faced with are much different than those faced by Abrashoff but the general concepts are universal.