Sunday, January 31, 2010

Understanding the Navy Bureaucracy to Get Things Done

"As CNO, Burke understood that the United States Navy was an immense bureaucracy, and that it was very hard, if not impossible, to communicate his desires, much less make his commands felt. In order to get things accomplished in the Pentagon, he decided it was “not wise to give a direct order” because if he did he would have to check whether it was carried out. Instead, he called the action officers to his office and convinced them of the importance of what he wanted. If the officer was “alert and enthusiastic” he could be counted on to follow through and do the necessary checking. This was "the main reason why" Burke believed that as CNO he could "influence things but I must get things done by persuasion and sometimes things do not get done which I think should be done." One tool Burke invariably employed in convincing his subordinates was good humor. His communications downward to Sailors and with his deputy CNOs and his fleet commanders and upward to the Secretary of Defense and even the President are filled with good-natured, self-effacing humorous comments that did much to get the CNO’s points across."

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