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Bleeding Talent: How the US Military Mismanages Great Leaders and Why It's Time for a Revolution 2013th Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0230391277
ISBN-10: 0230391273
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tim Kane's analysis is compelling and his findings are relevant for other organizations, public and private, that risk bleeding talent. For anyone interested in the future of the American military after more than a decade of war, this is a must read book." - David H. McCormick, Former Under Secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Treasury

"At a time when more attention is being paid to the need for creative destruction - and nondestructive creation - by America's entrepreneurs, startup maven Tim Kane shines the spotlight on the creativity of veterans and men and women in the military. Bleeding Talent is a must read for those seeking a more effective and efficient military. Kane asks the big question: What can we do to harness the entrepreneurial talent inside to bring an innovation culture to the military?" - Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Columbia Business School, and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

"Most Washington wonks forget that human capital is the most important weapon in the Pentagon's arsenal. Tim Kane reminds us that our troops win wars. At a minimum, they deserve a personnel system that rewards voluntary service with more autonomy and less coercion." - James Jay Carafano, Director, Foreign Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

"Since the two Gulf Wars, the US military has becoming widely admired - and properly feared - as the preeminent fighting force in the world. It also is an exemplary meritocratic institution - or is it? That is the challenging question that Tim Kane, a former Air Force officer, addresses in this pioneering and thought provoking study. While praising the military for what it does right, Kane also offers a timely and well document constructive critique of how the military could do much better to hold onto its best and brightest. This is a must read for everyone in the military, our political leaders who oversee it, and citizens who care about it." - Robert E. Litan, Vice President, Research and Policy, The Kauffman Foundation and Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution

About the Author

Tim Kane is the Chief Economist at Hudson Institute and founder of the social networking firm, StoryPoint. Kane's research on entrepreneurship and job creation has been widely cited, notably in the 2011 Economic Report of the President. He has served in multiple executive and scholarly roles at think tanks and universities. Kane has appeared often on CNN, CNBC, FOX, and PBS' Nightly Business Report. Previously, Kane served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, serving two tours of duty in Asia.  He was the lead editor and author of the 2007 Index of Economic Freedom, co-published by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation. In 2007-2008, he served as a senior economic adviser to the John McCain 2008 presidential campaign.He earned a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a doctorate in economics from the University of California San Diego. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their four children.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2013 edition (December 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230391273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230391277
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book offers an accurate description of one of the largest problems with our nation's military today. My desire to read this book started because I am an active duty enlisted man in the navy who is less than two months away from separation after nine years of service. The reasons I am leaving are the very same ones Kane illustrates.

The reason for not giving this book the fifth star is that I feel Kane underestimates the problem, and its impact on national security, by not including more enlisted solders, sailors and marines into his research. In my nine years I have seen a plethora of highly gifted enlisted individuals choose to leave the navy; and, like the officers he studies, the navy seem perfectly content to let them go.
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Speaking from a junior officer perspective, I have seen what a toxic leadership environment and a flawed bureaucratic system can create. I have seen the most talented and motivated NCOs and junior enlisted come into my unit to quickly become depressed at the fact that they have to wake up everyday and go to work, and become excited at the idea of leaving the military.
All the senior leadership care about is getting their next promotion at the cost of soldiers, driving them into the ground, while the units accomplishments look good on their OER. I have seen great soldiers lose hope when they realized their hard work is unrewarded in terms of pay and promotion, while dirt bag X is able to ride the system and stay in and receive same pay and rank.

I hope one day the TVF becomes a reality, but it probably won't be in my lifetime.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Kane's book sums up one of the two greatest failure today's military personnel system - our inability to retain superior talent due to archaic and bureaucratic assignment and promotion practices (our second greatest failure is our broken system used to select Flag Officer - see Thomas Ricks' book "The Generals" for an indepth analysis of this issue...).

Kane is dead on in his assessment that the Armed Services do an excellent job of attracting superior human capital, but then we squander it through draconian assignment practices where every junior officer is treated impersonally as an interchangeable cog in the great military machine. Lip service is paid to officer assignment preferences, exarcerbated by a promotion system that is based upon time in service rather than performance.

Having spent 30 years in the Army, I can attest to the author's thesis. The Army Human Resources Command - the Command directly responsible for Promotions, Awards and Assignments and indirectly responsible for Retention, is an antiquated organization that prides itself that "we have been getting it right since George Washington's Days - no need to change what works". Given the hemmorrhage of junior officers, their self confidence is supremely unwarranted.

The fact of the matter is that many - perhaps a majority - of company grade officers stay in service today past their obligation is due to a depressed job market. Once the civilian market begins to significantly grow again, todays exodus of talent will seem like a drop in the bucket to the anticipated flight from poor personnel practices and toxic leadership.

Smart leaders owe it to the services to prepare for this, and this book offers personnel policy alternatives worthy of debate.
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By J. Harville on September 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
And my only problem with it is that with millions of officers, the case studies within need to be more ambitious, perhaps a second edition containing even more data from thousands of people. I understand its hard, i've seen many friends attempt to get theses that shed some light on the military denied. Specifically because they don't shine a positive light. Perhaps more looks into similar industries, or other countries may help.
I don't know many officers that are doing work in the area with which they earned a bachelor's or master's degree. I don't know many that stick around after serving under two consecutive self-centered commanders. I'm told that it's not about checking boxes, but at the end of every mentoring session that starts with that, the emphasis is still on how not checking the right boxes at the right time limits where you can go in your career. This book helped me see from another perspective a lot of the same issues that I see almost daily. Even if you disagree with the idea that there is a problem, it's worth a read.
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As a senior captain (a captain that is post company command) in the Army that is facing separation due to the drawdown (Army is currently cutting ~2000 officers of all qualifications), this book definitely hit on some personal and pressing issues. Tim Kane does a very good job of highlighting those issues and getting people to see them, think about them, and debate them. The book is not an end-all be-all of the issues, but as a trailblazer one should not expect it to be and yet gives it a lot of importance in the bigger debate.

The Army is definitely squandering its talent through mismanagement in everything from assignments to evaluations as Mr Kane discusses. I have seen it (and continue to see it) time and time again. I have seen friends that are GREAT officers get out because they don't get a decent assignment that would fit their family, and those that have minor blemishes get punished in a zero-defect Army.

I definitely appreciate Mr Kane's more systematic approach and the pains he goes through to be unbiased in his analysis. The fact that he isn't in the Army and uses research methods definitely add to his conclusions. The only thing I can ding him on is the fact that the argument could be even more rigorous. For instance, while the management practices he exposes aren't the best for other areas of leadership (corporate america, etc), he doesn't address question of "maybe if these leadership policies are suited best for overall Army system, maybe they are best for those circumstances." While I think he is still correct in his conclusions, tightening up those arguments would have made this book a 5 star instead of a very solid 4 star.
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