What business can learn at West Point

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bruno, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    http://views.washingtonpost.com/lea...12/what-business-can-learn-at-west-point.html
    Interesting piece in the Post today by a Professor of Behavioral Science at USMA after a speech at USMA by Jeffrey Immelt (CEO at General Electric).

     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    I liked the "systems thinkers" term. Explains why so many with military background go on to successful business careers.

    Didja read some of the comments below the article? Wow, ouch, and free speech is alive and well in the online press. :eek:
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Yeah well- postings from a guy calling himself "therapy" ought to be taken with a few grains of salt!
    There are a few things that this Colonel said that I think are "pie in the sky"- although it could be that what he said and what he means are a little different.
    After 10 years in the Corporate world after a career in the Army - implying that the profit of the company is not the over riding consideration for any business is foolish and it is demonstrably not true. I don't believe for example that Mr Immelt's company sees itself or acts as an "American" company- (if it did it certainly wouldn't require it's vendors to hit a target of 15% of their materials provided from 3rd world sources at the expense of their American vendor base for example) it is a multinational company and it operates to its own best interest - which sometimes coincide with those of the country and sometimes not- but profit is always what drives those decisions. Some companies take longer term and take a more (IMHO) thoughtful perspective on employee decisions or the outsourcing of products and production capbilities than do others. But no business stays in business very long if its primary consideration is not profit. Where intelligent and effective leadership comes in is appreciating that leading by example; considering the personal needs of their employees and their neighbors; and an ethical approach to how they make their profit often actually improves the bottom line thru improved productivity and goodwill.

    That's off on a tangent though. I believe that in the main this Colonel is correct -
    West Point as a 4 year leadership lab does a tremendous job of preparing its graduates for a career as ethical and thoughtful leaders within or outside the military who can are motivated by an interest than just their own well being, can see multiple facets of a problem and formulate a response that considers the critical issues surrounding the problem .
     
  4. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Go back and read GE's CEO Jeff Imelt's (sp?) speech at West Point referenced, in my very humble opinion he's not the guy I want leading America with his agenda:


    "The United States ranks last among major manufacturers in export intensity. If we exported at the world average, we would eliminate the trade deficit and create new jobs. To achieve these, we should welcome the government as a catalyst for leadership and change. I believe in the endless possibilities of individual choice and private initiative. But this isn't the first time that business and government have had to work together for national ends.
    We should work together again today, setting goals for productivity, job creation and exports.
    There's a long history in this country of government spending that prepares the way for new industries that thrive for generations. Think of the Department of Defense, and all the commercial innovations that came out of military investments - from computing to transportation to healthcare.
    Through a real public-private partnership, we can dramatically improve America's competitiveness. Today, people in this country want to see business and government work together. An American renewal will be shaped by the public and private sectors, and -- more than ever -- by a willingness to act boldly for the good of the country.
    GE will lead this change."
     
  5. Viper56

    Viper56 Member

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    Why WP selected the George Custer of American CEOs to address cadets is mind-boggling. Since Jeff Immelt took over from Jack Welch, GE has been a train wreck. Worse, GE is in cahoots with the Obama administration's green energy agenda, and stands to make gazillions off this hoax.

    If WP seriously wanted the George Washington of CEOs, they should have called Southwest Headquarters in Dallas, TX and invited Herb Kelleher to offer some words of wisdom. His vision for Southwest Airlines was conceived late one night on a cocktail napkin in a smoky bar in San Antonio. After Herb fought four years of uphill legal battles to launch the airline, SWA went from hopping around the Texas triangle of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio with only four jets to the most successful airline in aviation history. Today Southwest’s fleet contains over 500 B-737 and serves over 60 cities.

    The only drawback might be that USMA’s policy prohibits smoking and Wild Turkey in the classroom.
     
  6. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    You were generous calling Immelt the "George Custer of American CEO's" where I would have called him the Benedict Arnold of American CEO's. :biggrin:
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    As long as it doesn't turn into "What Business can learn from DoD"....which would be enjoy a HUGE budget, don't account for everything you use and count on pay raises and increased budgets each year.

    Good for the military? The money certainly is. But the way DoD operates would not fly in the private sector. Just a different scale that's hard to imagine. I'm talking Dept. of Defense, not individual services, although they do have some fine budgets as well.
     
  8. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    I don't think that the point of this guys article or anyone else would suggest that anyone in the business world emulate how the Dod or any individual service (including the Coast Guard) does "Business"- because cost, profit and productivity are the driver in any business other than the Government(where apparently cost doesn't matter at all!). But how the military teaches it's leaders to manage people, priorities and missions is a huge improvement over the average business model. There is a whole industry out there that sucks money out of companies with all kinds of executive and management training programs that try to duplicate what USMA (as well as the other academies and the military in general) teach as a way of life: professional competence, integrity, reliability, the ability to see both the details and the larger "commanders intent" and act as needed without specific detailed instructions; and mission and care for your subordinates before self.
     

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