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Athletes are coached to "play within themselves" while striving to set new performance standards. In the business world (as Buckingham and Coffman explain in First, Break All the Rules), the most effective managers are those who focus almost entirely on their people's talents and get those talents in proper alignment with the tasks to be completed. The United States military services (especially the Marine Corps) take an entirely different approrach: Through what is indeed basic training, they require everyone involved to master essentially the same skills, within the same schedule, under the same conditions, etc. Only later are graduates of this rigorous process selected to receive more specialized training, usually according to their talents.
This book will be especially valuable to those organizations which have limited resources to invest in formal training. More than 90% of what is learned in any workplace is the result of on-the-job (i.e. informal) training. Collins and Bolger have obviously taken a close look at all manner of formal training programs, including those in the military srevices. They also fully understand the importance of informal training. If your organization has limited resources but a great need to increase the value of its human capital (i.e. increasing the quantity and -- especially -- the quality of what they understand and what they can do), what this book offers would be an excellent starting point. I'm not damning with faint praise. Eventually, if and when appropriate, I would then recommend Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline and The Dance of Change.
All organizations, regardless of size or nature, must constantly focus on increasing the effectiveness of on-the-job training. There are always at least a few people in each corporate department or small-to-midsize company who are both knowledgable and passionate. "They really know their stuff." They love to explain what they do and how they do it. Others probably think of them as "born teachers." Put them to work as trainers and be sure to reward them generously for their services. Provide books such as Collins and Bolger's to assist their preparation. One effective strategy is to have them conduct what I call "brown bag seminars." Employers or supervisors provide the food and beverages, welcome the participants, wish them well, and then leave the room. Any organization's most valuable assets really do "walk out the door at the end of each day." It is also important to remember that those assets are located between two ears.
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VINE VOICEon April 6, 2012
Should civilian trainers ever joke that you have nothing to learn from the U.S. Army about training and leadership, Collins' forceful book puts that idea to rest. In 22 short, practical chapters, Collins covers virtually every aspect of training from philosophy to the importance of stopwatches in training, to the role of general officers in training. No leader of soldiers or business trainers should begin any training program without reading this book. While you do not need to use every prescription Collins orders up, you would be foolish if you do not read and understand his approach. Collins is a man dedicated to building combat effectiveness in every warfighter. He has worked, experimented, and thought long and hard on the task. In this book you will have a tremendous mine of practical information that you can and should put to use immediately. It is up to leaders and trainers to read and heed.
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on April 3, 2012
Probably the best thing I've ever read about how to conceptualize, plan, and lead to get maximum results out of a training program. Wish I'd read it when I was a CO, will reread it before I take a grownup O-4 job.

Was written in 1978--it's old enough that even my reprint is more than ten years old, has a foreword by COL (!) Dan Bolger--but it's almost all entirely applicable to the modern era... maybe even more so than in a while, as the Army finds its way back to garrison.

Responding to the ROTC APMS review: I find it hard to believe the book didn't apply to the "modern Army" in 2004. It definitely applies now.
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on March 6, 2011
Even though this book is out of date, the talking points are still relevant. Read this book with an open mind and don't expect it to answer all of your pressing curiosities. I believe every leader could get a wealth of knowledge and insight from this book and it's emphases on training.
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on October 14, 1999
A very good read if you are looking to improve the quality of your training programs. Stresses the importance of continuity, breadth, and the leadership role. If you are tired of elaborate and expensive training programs which are difficult to develop and sustain (and therefore not that effective!), you might want to try this book out! I have never served in the military yet found it quite useful. Good civilian application if you understand the military.
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on February 14, 2013
The book is an add to my book collection of books that are on my CMC Reading list. Just like the others on the list it's important to a Marine and I know I will enjoy the read... Thanks for your support...
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on December 18, 2010
Responding to the review by the ROTC APMS, I found this book to be anything but dry. I was stunned at the parallels I discovered between the old Army and the modern Marine Corps. I read it mid-career and a lot of issues the author brings up resonated due to experience. That cadets found it dry does not surprise me in the least - they have no frame of reference. Their instructor's response, while disappointing, does not surprise me at all.

My last experience with Army training was in 2006 at the newly revamped Civil Affairs course at Ft. Bragg. Much of it was classroom lecture focussed on absorbing doctrine, vice practical techniques for actual operations. There was some good training, but they could have achieved so much more in 9 weeks. I think the "modern" Army needs to read this book. Anyone responsible for teaching a new skill set should do the same.
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on May 8, 2013
I have my copy of "Common Sense Training" from the early 1980s. What Collins wrote about in the 70s was how the low importance of training preparation damaged the value of what training did occur. This point is even more valid now, with computers enabling higher echelons to minutely scrutinize every one of their subordinate units, and in many cases, individual soldiers. If the intermediate commanders do not "insist and assist" their subordinate units with planning and executing good training, then intermediate staffs become nothing more than conduits for unceasing "good ideas" from above.

IMHO, this book should be mandatory for all levels of command, from PLT LDR up to the most senior Army component commander. Any officer that cannot grasp the absolute, screaming need to prioritize the use of resources AND DO SO, is not a professional. Read this book, think how to make training effective, and never accept less. (Hint - remember train to standard, not time?)
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on August 16, 2012
This book covers the common sence why we the USA need to train are combat forces small and larger. Showing the many hours of waste, and pitfalls that arise in training and that the Staff NCO and SGT are the men at ground level making the training happen. If you have well trained NCO the level of your men increase, if the NCO step and power the machine, If not the machine will stop dead in it's tracks and you will lose good men because of the
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on September 18, 2014
The best of the best written by the Number One all-time US Army expert on training. Still used in many countries as basic textbook. A glowing classic.
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