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On V in Other Places: The officer as manager: A reading list

Quick heads up:

Michael C just had a guest post published at Tom Rick's "Best Defense" blog titled, "The officer as manager: A reading list."

Check it out.

three comments

So this is the third of three reading lists in response to a company commander’s request for suggestions for his platoon commanders. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that said commander doesn’t actually need a reading list (although there are some good suggestions). He needs a professional development plan, and such a plan needs a few criteria.

1. It needs a goal, or perhaps several goals, to focus learning.
2. It needs to be scheduled. Soldiers do PT whether thy like or not because it’s in the schedule. They’ll do professional development if it’s in the schedule, and it should be frequent (weekly or every couple of weeks) so that it doesn’t get bumped by something ‘more important.’
3. It needs a setting. I like discussion groups. You can’t plagiarise in conversation, ideas feed off ideas, and you see who in the group is motivated and who doesn’t care.
4. The reference material should be short. No one has time (and few have the interest) to read every assigned book in its entirety. Everyone has time to read a specific chapter or an article. Instead of reading Ricks’ The Generals, for example, read the excerpt in The Atlantic. Maybe pair it with another article about/from a different era or a different non-military field for contrast.
5. There can be no egos. Rank and appointment hold no more authority in discussing subjects than they hold on the sports field.
6. It needs to start immediately before getting bumped by something stupid like a brigade sergeant major’s grass-cutting and sign-painting plan.


F- He does have it scheduled with his LTs, but these are great tips anyways.

A good tip I like is the three week rule. This week, your calendar is completely full. Next week is mostly full. Three weeks it is completely empty. Schedule it for 3 weeks from now and protect it.


F., I have to confirm your sentiments expressed in line number six. Individuals assigned to working parties barely absorb supplemental military education material as it is. I had to strategically “encourage” my boots just to read a few Clausewitz excerpts.