Friday, October 16, 2009

The Best Book I've Ever Read on Management... Available Now!

In Tom Hoffman World, this is the book on management, particularly in government bureaucracy:

Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945 (Contributions in Military Studies)

Unfortunately, even with Amazon and the web it has been nearly impossible to find; now Praeger has put it back in print. I actually originally read this about 15 years ago it as a monograph that couldn't be checked out of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. The only problem is that now that I'll have a copy I'll have to try to write a review...

This review nails the thesis:

The "problem" with Creveld's work, of course, is not with his methodology, but with his conclusions. Creveld concludes that the "German army was a superb fighting organization. In point of morale, elan, unit cohesion, and resilience, it probably had no equal among twentieth century armies." He attributes this conclusion principally to that army's internal organization, which he sees as "creating and maintaining fighting power." His view of the German soldier also makes him a marked man among historians, for he opines that the landser was motivated not by Nazi ideology, but by the reasons that men have always fought: because the German soldier saw himself as a member of a well-integrated, well-led team whose structure, administration and functioning were perceived by him as being generally equitable and just. In his view "the German army …[developed] a single-minded concentration on the operational aspects of war to the detriment, not to say neglect, of everything else." It sent its best men to the front; "its organization was designed to produce and reward fighting men." This, in Creveld's opinion, was the secret of its fighting power. Creveld concedes that even by the standards of the U.S. army in World War II, and indeed "by modern and even contemporary standards", the German army was a crude organization. Some of the reasons for this were negative: innate conservatism, lack of interest in innovation, and outright adherence to Nazi ideology. On the other hand, this crudeness reflected a positive element, namely "a conscious determination to maintain at all costs that which was believed to be decisive to the conduct of war: mutual trust, a willingness to assume responsibility, and the right and duty of subordinate commanders at all levels to make independent decisions and carry them out." In short, Creveld concludes, the German army "was built around the needs, social and psychological, of the individual fighting man. The crucial, indeed decisive, importance of the latter was fully recognized; and the army's doctrine, command technique, organization, and administration were shaped accordingly."(56)

Consider this: what do we call "elan, unit cohesion, or resilience" in a school? Do we even have languguage for these concepts?

1 comment:

Bill Kerr said...

It would be interesting to compare the German army with the Soviet