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It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy [Kindle Edition]

Michael Abrashoff
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (290 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.99
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

The story of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff and his command of USS Benfold has become legendary inside and outside the Navy. Now Abrashoff offers this fascinating tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today's uncertain business seas. When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, a ship armed with every cutting-edge system available, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship. Within months he created a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and take responsibility for their actions. The slogan on board became "It's your ship," and Benfold was soon recognized far and wide as a model of naval efficiency. How did Abrashoff do it? Against the backdrop of today's United States Navy-Benfold was a key player in our Persian Gulf fleet-Abrashoff shares his secrets of successful management including:
  • See the ship through the eyes of the crew: By soliciting a sailor's suggestions, Abrashoff drastically reduced tedious chores that provided little additional value.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: The more Abrashoff communicated the plan, the better the crew's performance. His crew would eventually call him "Megaphone Mike," since they heard from him so often.
  • Create discipline by focusing on purpose: Discipline skyrocketed when Abrashoff's crew believed that what they were doing was important.
  • Listen aggressively: After learning that many sailors wanted to use the GI Bill, Abrashoff brought a test official aboard the ship-and held the SATs forty miles off the Iraqi coast. From achieving amazing cost savings to winning the highest gunnery score in the Pacific Fleet, Captain Abrashoff's extraordinary campaign sent shock waves through the U.S. Navy. It can help you change the course of your ship, no matter where your business battles are fought.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Other than the sobering fact that real lives are regularly at stake, running a navy ship is a lot like running a business: leaders of both must get the most out of their crews to operate at peak efficiency and complete the tasks at hand. As commander of the highly acclaimed USS Benfold, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff irrefutably demonstrated how progressive management can succeed at sea; in It's Your Ship, he translates his methods into an approach that can also be applied by land-bound captains of commerce and industry. Describing "the ideas and techniques that I used to win my sailors' trust and, eventually, their enthusiastic commitment to our joint goal of making our ship the best in the fleet," Abrashoff cites embarrassing failures along with subsequent triumphs to illuminate the keys to his accomplished 20-month tenure aboard the guided missile destroyer. His suggestions: lead by example; listen aggressively; communicate purpose and meaning; create a climate of trust; look for results, not salutes; take calculated risks; go beyond standard procedure; build up your people; generate unity; and improve your people's quality of life. While hardly original on the surface, Abrashoff's course should provide practical direction and inspiration for any leader hoping for similarly positive results in similarly rigid organizations. --Howard Rothman

About the Author

CAPTAIN D. MICHAEL ABRASHOFF is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and was a military assistant to the former secretary of defense, the Honorable Dr. William J. Perry. Abrashoff left the Navy in 2001 and became the founder and CEO of Grassroots Leadership, Inc., in Boston. You can visit his website at www.grassrootsleadership.com.

Product Details

  • File Size: 719 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus; 1 edition (October 15, 2007)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001HPW9R4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,231 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Your Ship, My Story June 23, 2003
Format:Hardcover
This book and its author have received a lot of media exposure, so I decided to check it out. While Abrashoff espouses proven leadership techniques, the only really new learning is how one man applied the principles on a Navy ship with a complement of 311 sailors. This is more a story of one man's awakening to how leadership is considerably more effective than management; how getting out of people's way is wiser than micromanaging them.
Leadership is emphasized in the book, and in every endorsement quote on the back cover. Yet, the subtitle says "management techniques," not "leadership techniques." Leadership did not come easy to Abrashoff; he had a lot of learning to do...and undo. As he moves through the chapters, this retired Navy Captain talks about his experiences in leading by example, listening, communicating purpose and meaning, creating a climate of trust, focusing on results, taking calculated risks, building people and unity, and strengthening quality of life.
Good leaders can tell you all about these concepts and how they are applied in their organization. Aspiring leaders and those who have not yet seen the light will be awe-struck by what Abrashoff accomplished. Solid, experienced leaders will see this book as more of a case study and a reinforcement of what they're already doing. As I have observed today's military leaders-as a citizen and as a consultant who has had the privilege of working with military leaders, the "system" is not as counterproductive as the author would lead us to believe. Bureaucracy is still bureaucracy, but Abrashoff is not alone in his practice of leadership skills.
Abrashoff applied leadership skills on his ship to achieve significant measurable results. I'm glad he documented his achievements so others might be inspired.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS GO AND GROW February 10, 2006
Format:Audio CD
A new captain taking command of a ship is a ceremonial occasion. There's a reception, speeches, attendance by dignitaries, and the former commander is piped ashore. When Captain D. Michael Abrashoff took command of the USS Benfold on June 20, 1977 it was patently obvious that the crew was not at all sad to see their former captain leave. Abrashoff began to wonder if when he departed in two years the situation would be the same.

He well realized that he was totally responsible for the way the crew performed. But, how to do it without a company of unhappy men? As he points out being liked wasn't necessary but he did want to win his men's respect and trust. Thus, all would be more effective. The knotty question was how to do this.

In search of answers Abrashoff turned to some exit surveys, assuming that the main reason for leaving would be low pay. That was not the case at all. People left because they did not feel respected and they did not feel they had an impact on the organization. A low salary came in fifth as a cause for moving on. Abrashoff felt that he could apply these principles to his crew, and he did with stellar results.

Firstly, he stresses the importance of seeing the ship through the eyes of the crew. He solicited suggestions and many times found them to be extremely helpful. Communication was also high on his list as well as instilling in the men a sense of importance in what they were doing.

The payoff for captain and crew came not only in huge cost savings but also achieving the highest gunnery score in the Pacific fleet.

Abrashoff posits that what brought extraordinary change and success aboard his ship can do the same for a business. You'll be a believer after hearing his suggestions read in his own voice, one that speaks clearly, without hesitation, and with authority grounded in proven experience.

- Gail Cooke
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benfold crew knows we're the best! December 11, 2003
Format:Hardcover
I am a plankowner of the Benfold and admired Capt. Abrashoff's leadership. His superior leadership brought the moral of our ship from just ordinary shipboard life to a ship that many in the fleet wanted to become a part of. Our ship was a show-piece and we were proud to carry out his orders. What could have been a horribly desolate six months on deployment, including the holidays spent in the Gulf in 97-98, turned into a memorable experience for all, thanks to Capt. Abrashoff who even made UnRep a grand event! We learned from him that although we had a VERY important job to conduct, we were rewarded with pride in our accomplishments. Capt. Abrashoff was a very approachable Commanding Officer, an experience I had never encountered in the military and has been rare while employed with state government. He made an effort to see that his crew not only did their jobs exceptionally well, but that we enjoyed the festivities he provided for the ship while in port. I have read his fantastic book, reliving all the memories of my Benfold life and have used his leadership knowledge to become a successful professional in the "civilian" world. To the readers who feel Capt. Abrashoff is "arrogant" in his leadership style--I think if you had as awesome a ship as the Benfold to be a part of, you would be extremely proud of it and the leadership that made it such a fine place to spend a few years of your life.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not new, rediscovering the old wisdom March 31, 2003
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As Yogi said... De ja vu all over again. D. Abrashoff graduated the USN Academy in 1982, I graduated the USAF Academy in 1983, a comtemporary of mine then. Reading his book reminded me of all the things I suffered through my tour of active duty. It also reminded me of the basics I was taught at MY academy. On a theoretical level, nothing new here. On a practical level, this book is a gem, and I have just recommended it to my process improvement team.
The book is packed full of some ones learning on how to implement what a lot of other books explain in theory. The author doesn't plot out checklists, but gives meaningful anecdotes to explain his experience and point he is making. His key points are the chapter headings:
Take Command
Lead by Example
Listen Agressively
Communicate Purpose and Meaning
Create a Climate of Trust
Look for Results, Not Salutes
Take Calculated Risks
Go Beyond Standard Procedure
Build Up Your People
Generate Unity
Improve Your People's Quality of Life
A key take away for me, and in my experience, it is one thing to "COPY EXACTLY" (stealing an Intel term), it is another to understand the principle. By his examples, he indicates that other ships copied techniques (benchmarking) and improved specific areas of performance (all good), but failed to understand the principles involved. This allowed them to not extend improvements to other areas of their processes. This has been mimiced in business by all the failed initiatives that litter the highway, all good if you pay attention to their design, key assumptions, and core principles.
I though the book was well written, to the point, well illustrated with examples, all expressing key truths (though not new, well done). You can find other books that take each aspect (check the chapters) and dive deep into theory, but if you want a practitioners guide to how to get it done, this is a great book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a book that I love and recommend reading it
Published 16 days ago by Cici
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The best management book ever. A very easy read.
Published 17 days ago by John D. Greenwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This can help you take your management style to the next level.
Published 22 days ago by Ron Warner
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. The Chapter list is the outline for ...
No brain-surgery here, but VERY sound principles for management. Great read. The Chapter list is the outline for how to improve morale and efficiency in your organization.
Published 22 days ago by BDCor1
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! I was in the Navy and can ...
Great book! I was in the Navy and can attest to the craziness he talks about. The same craziness happens in the civilian world as well and all of this translates in both worlds. Read more
Published 23 days ago by MsWimsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good basic Leadership. Teaches the ownership mentality in your group.
Published 24 days ago by connie halbach
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fun, and insightful
Published 26 days ago by Khalid Kader
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect for me
Nothing to say, perfect for me!!
Published 29 days ago by Javier
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it so much, I bought a bunch more for everyone at work...
loved it so much, I bought a bunch more for everyone at work...
Published 1 month ago by Jack Peckham
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
learning new ways to excel and make changes made sense. shows us we need to continue to grow everyday. mistakes will happen and we can learn from them. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pea Jay Dee
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