Turn the Ship Around! - L. David Marquet

This is an extremely deliberate book on management and leadership. As in, it's clearly been constructed to fit squarely in the genre. From the foreword by Stephen "7 Habits" Covey through to the end of chapter points to think about and suggested exercises for your next off-site, the author clearly knows the genre.

The book is about how the author, as the captain of a nuclear-powered submarine, empowered his crew and managed to bring it from being one of the worst-performing boats to one of the best. While it's largely narrative-driven, the leadership techniques are literally WRITTEN OUT IN CAPS so that you can't miss them!

Part of what makes this book so great is that it's clearly not about a heroic and intuitive leader changing things around through native charisma. Throughout the book, the author namedrops all the management books he's read, giving the reader a chance to find out more, but also demonstrating that this kind of leadership can be achieved through study and thought, not just making inspiring speeches.

Moreover, by using concrete examples of what happened, not only is a dry subject given human interest, but the techniques of leadership are illustrated with practical examples. This is why the book can freely reference other books, because it adds something more - insight into the practical applications.

The target audience seems to be managers of managers, with the aim of creating an organisation where everyone is working towards the next level. However, the context of a nuclear submarine is interesting to me as an SRE. Admittedly, if I get my day job wrong I'm unlikely to die in a horrible way, stuck inside an enclosed metal tube filled with nuclear material and explosives far below the sea surface. On the other hand, we deal with incidents under pressure and have to deal with complex systems. We train and practice and optimise our responses. It makes an interesting comparison.

I really rather enjoyed this. Recommended.

Posted 2017-02-08.