Friday, April 5, 2013

Sweat the small stuff

Disciplined military professionals do not allow themselves or their shipmates to ignore minor requirements even when there is no direct mission impact. They understand that even the simplest regulations matter. And they are more likely to follow rules that do affect mission success.

Whenever we allow someone to get away with a small infraction, however trivial, we encourage disobedience through our inaction. Every time we ignore the small stuff, we make apparently minor requirements less important. Eventually the less important things become unimportant; and small stuff ignored becomes nothing at all. This leads to bigger and more important items becoming the small stuff, and the stage has been set for those requirements to be ignored as well. 

From retired CTICS Jim Murphy's article in PROCEEDINGS magazine HERE.

Hey, if your CO can ignore SECNAV, your Sailor should not be faulted for ignoring the CO.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, to quote what a great Sailor told me one time, "When everything is important, nothing is important."

Mike Lambert said...

No one suggests here that everything is important.

Anonymous said...

Great article, with a relevant message. Accountability and standards have been a hot topic on several fronts and for good reason. Without holding ourselves, our peers, and both suboridnates and leaders accountable we are failing each other and ultimately failing the Nation that provides our pay check and is counting on us. As a formal LPO of mine once said, "doing the right thing when no one is looking may not always be easy, but it will always be right".

@anonymous 12:05's post - everything is important, no one should try to apply the same priority to everything. Prioritize those most important and work your way down until you can't execute any further. The further down the list you go the better Sailor you are and ideally the higher in rank you become. Those who make it to the bottom of the list regularly are rare.

HMS Defiant said...

I disagree with this attitude and always have. It started with our DI in Newport telling us young candidates that, "real officers don't order pizzas from off-base establishments" and ballooned ever after from there. Shiny shoes never fought a shipboard fire. Perfectly pressed utilities never stood watch on an evap.
I had one CO tell me that he only had 5 number 1 priorities but of course he expected us to do all of the rest of our jobs too. We were down to 25% manning at that point. Something had to give.
I agree on taking care of the backups to the primaries and secondaries. There's no excuse for having equipment that doesn't work. Ask me if I care if some jackass has a no coveralls in the chowline attitude towards snipes dining. Lights are controlled by a switch and water by a valve I can close as easily as open.
Remember when you couldn't go near DC unless wearing dress uniform? How'd that fly as all the pentagon types decided to dress in camouflage? Busted regulation or stupid on the face of it regulation?

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

There seems to be some disagreement about what the Navy is really about, I feel that the Navy regardless of which Navy we are referencing to still has an obligation to serve at sea, where the Captain is judge, jury and prosecutor by Maritime law. And if that Captain does not have the wisdom to see that the good order and discipline of a ship at sea is properly administered then the ship and her crew are at peril.
I spent some time in the Navy and I have observed many individuals that made such statements as “I do my job and why should I be required to put up with the chicken regs that the Navy requires”, over the many years that I served that was the typical attitude of snipes and technicians who for some reason or another felt that if they did their job that was all that was required. We as Sailors all signed the same pledge, which was to defend and protect the U S Constitution and to obey all orders of our superiors, and other things were required as well.
There is no doubt in my mind that a Sailor can be a professional in his rating and still observe the full extent of “good order and discipline” necessary for maximum performance of any Sailor at sea or ashore.

Very Respectfully,

Jim Murphy said...

Captain Lambert, thanks for sharing this month's column.

I had a pretty good discussion on with touched on many of the same issues mentioned here. I won't belabor those points except to say that I enjoy the debate and reading opposing viewpoints and different ways people explain what I tried to say.


HMS Defiant said...

I would add, we used to send our men to Fire Fighting School at 32nd St and had a few sent back to the ship immediately and got busted by higher for failing to meet our school quotas because the sailors we sent to fight fires failed to appreciate the utter necessity of doing so in impeccably neat and clean dungarees. Some of our guys showed up at the school with stained old dungarees. I can't tell you how shocked I was at their inability to comply with the school's minimum requirements for training.