What to Read: Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific

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July 07, 2017
What to Read
Alan Zaccario

What's On the Bookshelf 
Over the years, we’ve had numerous conversations with industry leaders and often one of the topics that we discuss is the latest book read. We thought it would be fun to share some of these booklover conversations with our readers. Here are what our industry leaders are reading.

Sink 'Em All: Submarine Warfare in the Pacific 
by Charles A. Lockwood
[Review by Alan Zaccario, VP Information Technology, New Castle Hotels]
Not all management books were written in this century; not all books are even written about business. Some of the best lessons come from the least likely places. One of my favorite subjects in school was history. My reading still gravitates that way, which I think has its advantages. History in general is the foundation on which our lives and cultures have been constructed. The lessons we learn in the past can be applied today, and hopefully the mistakes don’t need to be repeated. One doesn’t really have to go too far back to gain the most valuable lessons either. “The Greatest Generation” is still with us and we still have that ability to ask questions about their time. Sadly we don’t do that enough.
The era starting pre WWII saw a real jump in relatable lessons that carry through to current day. The dawn of the U.S. involvement in the war saw the daunting task of fighting an enemy and totally restructuring manufacturing and the economy to meet that goal. Perhaps no other location in the war saw a greater set of challenges than the U.S. defense of the South Pacific in 1941. Isolated from the continent, short on supplies, men and machinery, the Pacific Fleet was still reeling from the devastation of Pearl Harbor and loss of advance bases all the way to Japan.
“Sink Em All” is the autobiography of Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Commander U.S. Pacific Submarines. On the surface, it is a book about the submarine service and its role in the war. However, as you look deeper, you realize it is really about the management of a large division like you would see in a multinational company. The stakes couldn’t be higher and the risks more deadly, so it is fascinating to see behind a man and organization willing to take up all challenges. 
Take out the context of war and these are some of the things we can directly relate to. Your team is multinational with internal protocols not like yours. The key hardware component to your success is unreliable. (U.S. torpedo failures were really high through a majority of the early war.) You need to prune staff of dead wood and replace complacent managers with aggressive ones (sub captains). You need to keep your staff and division motivated in spite of the previous two problems. You constantly are in battle with the corporate office for more resources (War Department). The war moves fast, but communication is slow. Your expanding “portfolio” of bases and successes are straining the supply chain and management. (You are a victim of your own success.) You realize that success or failure is a decision away.
Thankfully for us we don’t have to do the following; we don’t have the burden of assigning our staff projects and battles that many will never return from. All of this is done silently without the public or even the rest of the “company” ever knowing about it – the true silent service.
Hats off to our military and the veterans who still teach us the foundations of courage, bravery and management. Thank a vet, and when you can, download a copy of “Sink Em All” to see whether you see it the same way as I do.

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