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Semper Fi - Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way
By Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh

The authors, both former Marines, propose that the strategies, training and attitudes that made the Marine Corps the "lean, mean fighting machine" that it is can be brought to modern business. It's hard to argue with the success of the Marine Corps - even as outside society has changed, their mission and approach has remained pretty much the same over the years.

The authors suggest that if Harvard Business School were to include major military events in their famous Case Studies curriculum, even the largest business dealings would be dwarfed by the efforts of the military.

How could you compare a corporate merger with the broad military alliances of World War II, for example. The massing of men and resources for D-Day is unparalleled in a corporate scenario - and it was done in secret!

They break the book into sections from Recruitment to Boot Camp and up through Officers (upper management). Each section tells about the Marine Corp Way and then suggests how these strategies can be implemented in business.

For example, the Marine adage, "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war," is extended to show the value of corporate training - making sure your people are well-prepared.

Successful corporate training programs such as IBM's sales school and Dale Carnegie courses are linked to some of the processes of Marine boot camp. The Marines take their best and make them recruiters and instructors.

It is rare for a traditional company to take their best people and put them in HR or have them train other employees. The authors stress the results the Marine Corps enjoys by using outstanding people in these vital areas.

Most issues facing a modern corporation - promotion, sexual harassment, morale, employee empowerment, management issues, etc. - are looked at the Marine Corps way. Some of these seem a little forced but, in general, the structure and processes of the Corp offer some valuable lessons for business.

Each chapter of this very readable book closes with a Leadership Strategies Checklist which lists a few dozen action steps to be applied. It sure wouldn't hurt a modern executive to at least be aware of some of these steps and ideally to add some to the company's repertoire.

Semper Fi!

Reviewed by Dan Hanson

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