I am lucky to spend a lot of time with some really good data center executives. When I read this WSJ article on Robert Gates's 7 rules for managing the Pentagon it reminded me a lot methods I see these guys using. I can name about 7 guys who use these methods. Can you? One who used these rules is my dear departed friend Olivier Sanche.
Guideline No. 1: Symbols matter. Mr. Gates is a Kremlinologist by training, Studying the Soviet Union convinced him that people watch what leaders do, and getting the symbolism right can help win people over. At the Pentagon, rather than calling the combatant commanders to him all the time, Mr. Gates made a point of visiting them.
Guideline No. 2: Listen to the professionals. Mr. Rumsfeld was criticized for running roughshod over the opinion of the Pentagon’s admirals and generals.
Guideline No. 3: Hold the professionals accountable. In the wake of the 2007 scandal overpoor care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Mr. Gates earned a reputation for quickly firing people. But he notes he never fired people for not knowing about a problem. He forced people out after they failed to fix problems once they came to light.
Guideline No. 4: Come alone, work with the existing team. Mr. Gates fell in on Mr. Rumsfeld’s team. And save for a few core people from the Bush administration that Mr. Gates asked to keep, he allowed the Obama administration to choose its own Pentagon political appointments.
Guideline No. 5: Lay out the vision, let the experts execute. Mr. Gates relished making decisions, taking in all the information he could about a problem then deciding where the Department should go. But he was not a micro-manager, and he left the details of how a decision should be executed to the military.
Guideline No. 6: Speak to all the layers of organization. Mr. Gates spread his ideas, like increasing the Air Force’s emphasis on drones, not just by ordering changes at the top, but also by speaking to young officers at the service academies and the war colleges, seeding his ideas in a new generation of leaders.
Guideline No. 7: Leave behind strong leaders. Mr. Gates said he worked hard to remake the Army, change its focus from major combat operations, to a broader array of missions including low intensity conflicts and training of local security forces. And he said thanks to the leaders he has promoted, like Gen. Ray Odierno and Gen. Martin Dempsey, there is little chance the Army will go back to its old ways.
Contrast this with Donald Rusmfeld's long pdf file.
The WSJ today has the full story of Mr. Gates’s evolution as a manager. But as an added bonus, Washington Wire has boiled the wisdom of Bob Gates into seven pithy “Gates’s Guidelines.” (Far fewer than the dozens of tips Mr. Gates’s predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, collected in his “Rumsfeld’s Rules.”