Management From The Corps Essay, Research Paper
I want to use this opportunity to discuss two things, both near and dear to my heart; The United States Marine Corps and Management. Throughout this paper I want to focus on how I think civilians can learn to be better managers by using what that corps has established over it s illustrious 223 years as the Best Management-Training Program in America Inc. (Freedman).
The United States Marine Corps manages using a principle I learned in this course: Decentralization! Let me break this down. I learned it quite simply as the rule of three. But before I define this, I will briefly explain to you a small portion of the Marine rank structure. A Corporal is the first rank that an enlisted Marine is considered a leader due to his/her rank (though all Marines are trained to lead). The Corporal is the first of the Marine Non-commissioned Officers (NCO S), then in ascending order is the Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant, and so on. Now back to the rule of three. Each Marine has three responsibilities. In our organizational structure, a Corporal has a three-person fire team; a Sergeant has a squad of three fire teams; and a Staff Sergeant has a platoon of three squads; and so on, up to the Colonels and Generals.
For the typical business, decentralizing and flattening organizational structure involves gutting several layers of management, often leaving managers overwhelmed with as many as a dozen direct subordinates (Freedman). In contrast, the Marine Corps has been able to push out authority but still maintain a simple hierarchical structure designed to keep everyone s job manageable (Freedman).
What at first glance may seem rigid or narrow, the many layers between the Private and Colonel lend opportunity for innovation. At the same time, even the lowest ranking Marine, the Private knows that he or she is expected to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.
An organization (civilian) may want to look at this a little further. We must have established managers, but the notion of delegation of authority should be expanded in the civilian world. Well considered delegation of authority not only lifts some pressure off the titled manager, but also gives some well-deserved leadership satisfaction to an employee who may never have had the chance to be a manager .
The success of the Marine Corps Management strategy is apparent in the vast numbers of ex-Marines who hold the Chief Executive Officer, President, Vice President, Chairman, and Manager positions at all levels in top. Although exact statistics were not available at this writing, the extraordinary number of ex-Marine managers has been documented.
Dillon and Macht, in their article, The few, the Proud, the CEOs: Former grunts on the Marine Corps way of doing business, elucidate the transition from dress blues to business suit.
Phillip Rooney, vice chairman of ServiceMaster Co. and countless other ex-Marines, there is no better preparation for running a business than the intense training of the U. S. Marine Corps.
Nothing can quite compare with Marine Corps training and combat service to stretch your leadership skills in bringing people together to accomplish a mission (Dillon and Macht)
Another ex-Marine cited in Dillon and Macht, Quaker Oats CEO Robert Morrison, strengthens the case for the Marine Corps brand of decentralized management. There were clear parameters that were instilled in everybody s mind, but in an actual battle situation, within those parameters, people had incredible freedom to act. Morrison has found the Marines principle of decentralization tremendously important in business. Management can instill principles and guidelines, but you can t do people s jobs for them (Morrison).
The organizational structure, which allows for freedom to act, while demanding personal responsibility to meet organizational goals, seems to be a ready formula for success. What ever you environment is, it will change. In business it will change fast. You can learn to make quick decisions without all the information; you re tolerant of those who make mistakes but intolerant of those who can t act fast (Caulfield).
One Chicago job placement company, Hire Quality Inc., specializes in placing honorably discharged military personnel and embraces the Marines rule of three. I have a chief operating officer reporting to me, he has three people reporting to him, and so on down the line (Caulfield).
A closer inspection of Marine management structure reveals flexibility in a defined structure. Innovation that is spawned at one level may travel both up through higher ups and down through the ranks. The Marine Corps also takes advantage of innovation from the civilian sector, by training officers on Wall Street to get a lesson in how to make fast decisions based on information flowing in through banks on monitors. The combination of strong management and training with attention towards evolving methods and technologies buttresses organizational structure, both military and civilian.
No one argues that the Marine Corps way is the only successful strategy for business. However, in many time tested examples Managing from the Corps has proven successful. Further exploration can only benefit those of us that will be managing the next millennium.