Book review

Turn Your Ship Around!

Turn Your Ship Around! by L. David Marquet is as concrete as it gets for books that promise changing your organization for the better.

Based on the famous book about his tour on the nuclear submarine USS Santa Fee, where Marquet faced the challenge of his career of becoming the commanding officer on the worst performing ship in the entire US Navy but managed to turn it into the best performing within two years, the workbook lays out concrete exercises to implement what Marquet developed: intent-based leadership.

Intent-based leadership

The method is essentially a helper to codify behavioral change throughout an entire organization. By making decisions observable by others it enables the transfer of decision making power to "lower" levels; which is what you want in any complex and complicated environment today. By pushing authority to information, as Marquet calls it, decisions are made where they need to be made: where and when the action happens, and not many layers distant from it.

The idea is simple: to have leaders on every level, even at levels where individuals are not used to lead. Obviously this skill is not inherently existent everywhere in the organization so Marquet lays out the ideas and concepts to equip them with mechanisms of Control (put them in control of their actions and results), Competence (give the the technical knowledge to make the right decisions), and Clarity (give the the understanding of the organization's purpose).

You will get more than two dozen exercises that can be executed in a few minutes and yield material for your team right away. The book is so applicable, that no trainer is need, and there are companies that just by following the book, have saved hundreds of million $.

It not only tackles the common decision fatigue in organizations where it's more important to not make an error then to make a bold move but makes you discover invisible red-tape, which alone are potentially limiting your ability to innovate and create compelling products.

The most important aspect of intent-based leadership in my opinion is that it establishes deliberate learning towards a common goal which enables organizations to grow and become truly agile.