Scuttle Your Ships Before Advancing: And Other Lessons from History on Leadership and Change for Today's Managers

Scuttle Your Ships Before Advancing: And Other Lessons from History on Leadership and Change for Today's Managers

by Richard A. Luecke
     
 

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In the spring of 1942, Japan's Admiral Yamamoto devised an ingenious strategy to attack Midway Island and deliver the knockout punch of the war in the Pacific. His elegant operational plan--which involved elaborate traps and diversions and required clockwork coordination--was founded on complete faith that he could predict the Americans' every move. But the perfect… See more details below

Overview

In the spring of 1942, Japan's Admiral Yamamoto devised an ingenious strategy to attack Midway Island and deliver the knockout punch of the war in the Pacific. His elegant operational plan--which involved elaborate traps and diversions and required clockwork coordination--was founded on complete faith that he could predict the Americans' every move. But the perfect plan went wrong, and Japan's elite Strike Force was crushed, losing four carriers, over three hundred aircraft, and 2,500 men.
What can today's business managers learn from Yamamoto's stunning defeat at the Battle of Midway? A great deal, according to Richard Luecke, and in Scuttle Your Ships Before Advancing, he illuminates lessons to be learned from Yamamoto and other leaders who have faced memorable crises. We find, for instance, the epitome of decisiveness and entrepreneurialism in Hernan Cortes, as he and a small band of 16th-century adverturers risked everything in a bold gamble for the Aztec empire (the book's title, Scuttle Your Ships, refers to Cortes' strategy that kept his men moving forward). Underdogs who would challenge the status quo can look to France's Louis XI, the "Spider King," and learn how he undermined entrenched rivals through patience and cunning. The Emperor Hadrian, in his consolidation of the sprawling Roman Empire, provides a brilliant model for managing today's multinational corporation. And attitudes toward technology and innovation are vividly illustrated by the 15th-century Battle of Agincourt, in which the stubborn refusal of the French to adopt their English enemy's weapon--the longbow--led to their massacre. From these and other historical episodes, Luecke shows how leadership, daring, and artful administration meant the difference between success and failure. He draws explicit lessons for managers from these long-ago events, and he also reveals parallels in the recent experiences of major corporations from GM to Shearson Lehman. And along the way, he evokes portraits of Martin Luther, W. Edwards Deming, and other visionaries as they struggled with the timeless challenges of authority, change, and human conflict.
Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Skillfully narrated, inspiring yet down-to-earth, Scuttle Your Ships Before Advancing serves up powerful historical lessons for all who would manage and lead in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Discarding the notion that history is superfluous, freelance writer Luecke weaves a bold intellectual tapestry disclosing the special relevance of history for today's business managers. Endorsing the theory originally postulated by Will and Ariel Durant that ``history repeats itself, but only in outline and in the large,'' Luecke analyzes disparate individuals (Cortes to Yamamoto), events (the Reformation; the Battle of Crecy), and seminal ideas (espoused by the likes of Deming and Hadrian). His illustrative comments about the use and misuse of historical analogies (focusing on presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson as examples) are involving, as are his views on global empires, the Neustadt-May historical methodology and the strength and importance of ethnic diversity in the U.S. This work is fun to read, educational and gripping, rare traits in a ``business'' work. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In this clearly written work, Luecke, a business writer and editor, presents historical lessons on leadership that can be applied to today's dynamic business environment. He cites a variety of historical episodes that take the reader from ancient Rome to postwar Japan and feature the likes of Emperor Hadrian, Louis XI, Cortes, and Admiral Yamamoto. The episodes provide examples of human conflict and the challenges they present to leadership; by relating these conflicts to contemporary concerns, the author shows how today's managers can lead effectively into the 21st century. This informative title underlines ways we can learn from past successes and failures and illustrates how history can indeed provide insight into the future. It will appeal to business executives, government leaders, and students.-- Joseph W. Leonard, Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio
David Rouse
Luecke, a freelance business writer, was impressed by a book he read several years ago by John K. Clemens and Douglas Mayer called "The Classic Touch: Lessons of Leadership from Homer to Hemingway" (1987). In it, the authors use examples from literature to illustrate leadership and management problems and principles. Luecke decided it would be even more instructive to use actual incidents from history, and he describes here seven such episodes to demonstrate leadership requisites such as decisiveness, risk-taking, adaptability to change, and conflict resolution. His "history lessons" include Cortes' plunder of the Aztec empire (Luecke's title refers to Cortes' practice of destroying his ships to keep his men advancing), Emperor Hadrian's consolidation of the Roman Empire, and Japanese Admiral Yamamoto's miscalculations at the Battle of Midway. Luecke's unusual approach makes this a noteworthy addition to business and management collections.
From the Publisher

"Highyl useful as anecdotal support for selected key management principles."--Professor Daniel P. Chamberlin, Regent University

"Luecke's unusual approach makes this a noteworthy addition to business and management collections."--Booklist

"Clearly written...presents historical lessons on leadership that can be applied to today's dynamic business environment. [Luecke] cites a variety of historical episodes that take the reader from ancient Rome to postwar Japan and feature the likes of Emperor Hadrian, Louis XI, Cortes, and Admiral Yamamoto....Underlines ways we can learn from past successes and failures and illustrates how history can indeed provide insight into the future. It will appeal to business executives, government leaders, and students."--Library Journal

"Most of those who use the days of yore to catechize or instruct corporate executives go no further than military history. But business writer Luecke--while cognizant of the hard business lessons that may be learned from war--draws on a wider selection of events from the classical era to the present; among other results, his erudite but accessible commentaries afford a more engaging and effective guide for managers, aspiring or otherwise....Perceptive, low-key perspectives on how thoroughly modern organization men and women could, with a bit of thought, profit from the past."--Kirkus Reviews

"With library shelves bowing under the weight of faddish how-to and fact books, Luecke provides the eye-sore reader exciting and historical insights in the knowledge and wisdom necessary to cause change and effectively lead."--Vincent Barabba, Executive in Charge, Marketing Research and Planning, General Motors Corporation

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199923519
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/26/1993
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
18 MB
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