I was in the army about 10 years ago. Some managers I’ve seen seem to think army style is “outdated” or “too hierarchical” or too “command oriented”, and partially there might be something like that in the army but there’s some things that are done really well in the army.
Here’s some of the things I was really impressed about:
- Responsibility: there was always somebody who “called the shots”. Maybe in workplaces we don’t need to have privates and sergeants and badges, but it’s a good thing if somebody in the team actually has the responsibility to “keep the order” (so to speak) and maybe even have final word on things. I think this type of order and structure was helpful in the army: everybody knew who was responsible and no time was wasted arguing over something useless.
- Order: occasionally, some people came late to a lecture and the captain was standing there (actually, this might be a military secret of the Finnish army and I think I was said that I cannot share anything that happens in the army, but let’s hope nobody finds out about this blog post, okay?). Anyway, the captain was there waiting patiently (with a strict look in his face) for the latecomers to arrive. After that, the lecture was 10 minutes late and he gave a 2 minute speech about how this cannot happen again or we’ll start training this arrival on time (meaning: from now on, people would come like 1 hour before the actual event if things don’t change). After that, he went on with the lecture.
I thought this was amazing. Previously, I had seen people coming late to their workplaces (or school) and (1) coming up with all sorts of excuses, (2) driving recklessly when they were late, (3) trying to do too many things (like eat breakfast, make the bed, brush teeth, and shave – while driving) in order to “not to be too late”. Then some boss/teacher either (1) did nothing, (2) tried to mumble something or (3) was one of the latecomer. This captain was just standing there and waiting for people to find their seats in order. No fuss, no stupidities. Strict order. Then he said what would happen if things won’t change (and he sure would have ordered that). I liked that approach.
- Delegating: when you get an assignment in the army, your superior will tell you what you need to do and then you repeat the task to confirm you’ve got it. That’s a pretty simple thing: (1) first somebody gives you a task, and (2) then you confirm that you got the message. Simple.
I wonder why there’s probably tons of producers (including the guy who is writing this blog post) who don’t handle this properly always when needed. Some producers actually don’t do either step (telling what to do nor asking people if they know what they need to do), yet they keep wondering why project isn’t going well.
I’m not necessarily a big army fan (pretty neutral attitude towards the army maybe), but I think they’ve done some things pretty well. So well that it’s worth learning from.