Focus and value flow from leadership principles.

Last post, I wrote about a step back we had to make in volume to ensure quality. When pointing at anything though, there’s a danger of attracting attention to the pointer rather than what you are pointing at. Downsizing is never a sustainable strategy. Pruning is just a means of facilitating growth, and proper growth after pruning feels magnificent.

Human organizations fascinate me. I define an organization as a group of individuals arranged by lines of communication and accountability such that they create more value as a group than the sum of their individual contribution could ever reach. Any group that does not do this, is just a group: if they try to compete with proper organizations in the market, they will be buried.

One of the richest sources of insight regarding organizations and leadership is military history. War is a terrible business, and I pray for the day when the proverbial lion can lay down with the lamb. Until then though, we have wars. There will never be an arena where the ability to get a group of people to work together towards a common goal has higher stakes and therefore greater performance and insight than war. So we rejoice in the keys to light that comes from such darkness.

The best commentator on combat leadership’s application to business and life right now is Jocko Willink. His favorite book of all time is About Face . In that odyssey of American Warrior, US Army Col. David Hackworth declares “Colonel Glover S. Johns was the finest senior infantry commander I’ve ever seen, or would ever see again” Hackworth summarizes Col. Johns’s farewell address with these points:

  • Strive to do the small things well.

  • Be a doer and a self-starter - aggressiveness and initiative and two most admired qualities in a leader - but you must also put your feet up and think.

  • Strive for self-improvement through constant self-evaluation.

  • Never be satisfied. Ask of any project , “How can it be better done?”

  • Don’t over-inspect or over-supervise. Allow your leaders to make mistakes in training, so they can profit from errors and not make them in combat.

  • Keep the troops informed; telling them “what, how, and why” builds their confidence.

  • The harder the training, the more the troops will brag.

  • Enthusiasm, fairness, and moral and physical courage: 4 of the most important aspects of leadership.

  • Showmanship - a vital technique of leadership.

  • The ability to speak and write well - 2 essential tools of leadership.

    • There is a salient difference between profanity and obscenity: while a leader employs profanity (tempered with discretion), he never uses obscenities.

  • Have consideration for others.

  • Understand and use judgement; know when to stop fighting for something you believe is right. Discuss and argue your point of view until a decision is made, and then support the decision wholeheartedly.

  • Stay ahead of your boss.

As we strive to embody the highest ideals, our people are aimed at their objectives and inspired. Some people have more wattage or horsepower, or mana, or whatever you want to call it, but the real power comes from focus. The beauty of our organization is the players coming to work here are focused on objectives that line up with their strengths and interests. Chanel may not have the desire or ability to grind concrete that Ruben does. Ruben certainly does not have the desire or ability to estimate, bid, and answer customer questions that Chanel does. And so on across the 20 or so people that work here.

As we reflect on 2018 and plan for 2019, we could not be more excited. The truths we have arrived at have been hard won. We are not wearied by that work. We are stronger than ever. Pruned of the low-wattage types, we are left with well-aimed winners. On top of that, we are overwhelmed with thankfulness to serve you. Thank you for your interest, appreciation, and patronage. You are our people.