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It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy (revised) [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

D. Michael Abrashoff , Author
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 9 2012
The story of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff and his command of USS Benfold has become legendary inside and outside the Navy. Now Abrashoff offers this fascinating tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today's uncertain business seas. When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, a ship armed with every cutting-edge system available, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship. Within months he created a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and take responsibility for their actions. The slogan on board became "It's your ship," and Benfold was soon recognized far and wide as a model of naval efficiency. How did Abrashoff do it? Against the backdrop of today's United States Navy-Benfold was a key player in our Persian Gulf fleet-Abrashoff shares his secrets of successful management including:
  • See the ship through the eyes of the crew: By soliciting a sailor's suggestions, Abrashoff drastically reduced tedious chores that provided little additional value.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: The more Abrashoff communicated the plan, the better the crew's performance. His crew would eventually call him "Megaphone Mike," since they heard from him so often.
  • Create discipline by focusing on purpose: Discipline skyrocketed when Abrashoff's crew believed that what they were doing was important.
  • Listen aggressively: After learning that many sailors wanted to use the GI Bill, Abrashoff brought a test official aboard the ship-and held the SATs forty miles off the Iraqi coast. From achieving amazing cost savings to winning the highest gunnery score in the Pacific Fleet, Captain Abrashoff's extraordinary campaign sent shock waves through the U.S. Navy. It can help you change the course of your ship, no matter where your business battles are fought.

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From Amazon

Other than the sobering fact that real lives are regularly at stake, running a navy ship is a lot like running a business: leaders of both must get the most out of their crews to operate at peak efficiency and complete the tasks at hand. As commander of the highly acclaimed USS Benfold, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff irrefutably demonstrated how progressive management can succeed at sea; in It's Your Ship, he translates his methods into an approach that can also be applied by land-bound captains of commerce and industry. Describing "the ideas and techniques that I used to win my sailors' trust and, eventually, their enthusiastic commitment to our joint goal of making our ship the best in the fleet," Abrashoff cites embarrassing failures along with subsequent triumphs to illuminate the keys to his accomplished 20-month tenure aboard the guided missile destroyer. His suggestions: lead by example; listen aggressively; communicate purpose and meaning; create a climate of trust; look for results, not salutes; take calculated risks; go beyond standard procedure; build up your people; generate unity; and improve your people's quality of life. While hardly original on the surface, Abrashoff's course should provide practical direction and inspiration for any leader hoping for similarly positive results in similarly rigid organizations. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

CAPTAIN D. MICHAEL ABRASHOFF is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and was a military assistant to the former secretary of defense, the Honorable Dr. William J. Perry. Abrashoff left the Navy in 2001 and became the founder and CEO of Grassroots Leadership, Inc., in Boston. You can visit his website at www.grassrootsleadership.com.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS GO AND GROW Feb. 10 2006
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
A new captain taking command of a ship is a ceremonial occasion. There's a reception, speeches, attendance by dignitaries, and the former commander is piped ashore. When Captain D. Michael Abrashoff took command of the USS Benfold on June 20, 1977 it was patently obvious that the crew was not at all sad to see their former captain leave. Abrashoff began to wonder if when he departed in two years the situation would be the same.
He well realized that he was totally responsible for the way the crew performed. But, how to do it without a company of unhappy men? As he points out being liked wasn't necessary but he did want to win his men's respect and trust. Thus, all would be more effective. The knotty question was how to do this.
In search of answers Abrashoff turned to some exit surveys, assuming that the main reason for leaving would be low pay. That was not the case at all. People left because they did not feel respected and they did not feel they had an impact on the organization. A low salary came in fifth as a cause for moving on. Abrashoff felt that he could apply these principles to his crew, and he did with stellar results.
Firstly, he stresses the importance of seeing the ship through the eyes of the crew. He solicited suggestions and many times found them to be extremely helpful. Communication was also high on his list as well as instilling in the men a sense of importance in what they were doing.
The payoff for captain and crew came not only in huge cost savings but also achieving the highest gunnery score in the Pacific fleet.
Abrashoff posits that what brought extraordinary change and success aboard his ship can do the same for a business. You'll be a believer after hearing his suggestions read in his own voice, one that speaks clearly, without hesitation, and with authority grounded in proven experience.
- Gail Cooke
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I just read Abrashoff's "It's Your Ship" and strongly recommend the book to managers at all levels and academics that teach Management, Organizational Behavior and Leadership. The author, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff - former commander of the USS Benfold, write in an engaging, easy to read style. The information he conveys is priceless. If you are concerned about productivity, profitability and opportunities for growth, the book is a handbook for success.
Having spent many years in the "old Corps (USMC)", heavy industry and higher education, I, too, have come to reject the old fashioned and dysfunctional command and control approach to leadership. There is a much better model and it is well described and richly illustrated in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Abrashoff was one of the most effective Commanders in the Navy in recent history - this book recounts his lessons learned and is very proactive with respect to empowering your staff and delegating to them as well. On Page 158, he has a great line - Expect the best from your crew (and you will get the best).
When we have high expectations and we properly equip people to deliver, harmony is created and a virtuous cycle of achievement and progress is created.
Abrashoff was very objective focused as opposed to process or traditional ways of getting things done. He also took care of his people and made exceptions where feasible to ensure their long term emotional stability and commitment to the Navy. He understood the true costs of acquiring, training and bringing new staff up to speed. Often your best investment is employee retention!
A very good book with a different focus than the standard mantra management book. Well worth the read!
It is a loss for the US Navy that Abrashoff retired to pursue other life objectives. He was a strong credit to the Navy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benfold crew knows we're the best! Dec 11 2003
Format:Hardcover
I am a plankowner of the Benfold and admired Capt. Abrashoff's leadership. His superior leadership brought the moral of our ship from just ordinary shipboard life to a ship that many in the fleet wanted to become a part of. Our ship was a show-piece and we were proud to carry out his orders. What could have been a horribly desolate six months on deployment, including the holidays spent in the Gulf in 97-98, turned into a memorable experience for all, thanks to Capt. Abrashoff who even made UnRep a grand event! We learned from him that although we had a VERY important job to conduct, we were rewarded with pride in our accomplishments. Capt. Abrashoff was a very approachable Commanding Officer, an experience I had never encountered in the military and has been rare while employed with state government. He made an effort to see that his crew not only did their jobs exceptionally well, but that we enjoyed the festivities he provided for the ship while in port. I have read his fantastic book, reliving all the memories of my Benfold life and have used his leadership knowledge to become a successful professional in the "civilian" world. To the readers who feel Capt. Abrashoff is "arrogant" in his leadership style--I think if you had as awesome a ship as the Benfold to be a part of, you would be extremely proud of it and the leadership that made it such a fine place to spend a few years of your life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Damn Book on Leadership Ever Written June 18 2004
Format:Hardcover
As a long-time Air Force Instructor who specializes in teaching leadership courses, I was stunned at the simplicity and wildly effective techniques described in this book. Captain Abrashoff simply followed his heart, and in the process, not only nearly transformed the Navy but created allegiances so herculean that you'd think you were reading Greek mythology. Nothing fancy here--a committed leader, determined to do what makes sense and what makes his people feel most empowered and personally satisfied. His eager crew knocked the socks off every existing comparable ship in the fleet, but that wasn't his best legacy. His greatest gift as a leader was his willingness to learn and to change as needed--and that, as uncomplicated as it sounds, created physical and emotional miracles. More than once, I reached for the tissue box, and more than once, I asked Providence to bless him and anyone else who was determined to lead as he did and does. Easy to read, brief, and magnetically compelling, this is a magnificent primer for every person who leads or who aspires to do so one day. I have read many dozens of books on leadership for my profession, but this one blows every single one of them "out of the water". Read and heed, and your abilities as a great inspiration and guide will multiply exponentially. Extraordinary!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really fun to read
AMAZING Book. Anybody who manages anybody can learn something from here. So much fun that you will not even notice that you are reading.
Published 15 months ago by Tim Holt
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Shi
I picked this up as I had been part of the Navy and was interested to see what Captain Abrashoff offered in Management philosophy. Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by Stefan Hopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Experience
Captain D. Michael Abrashoff changed the way the Navy does business. He proved that by making the crew the team, his ship could outperform all the others in the entire fleet. Read more
Published on April 15 2004 by Brad Davis
1.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the hype, look past the facade...
After reading this book, I happened to ask the opinion of an very high ranking Navy Officer whom I am friends with. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on Leadership
Considering that I read at least 30 books a year alone on Leadership, it is nice to read one that is not only packed full of great ideas but also a pleasure to read. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Karl B
4.0 out of 5 stars How to run a ship in the new U.S. Navy.
This book was not read for pleasure. My boss stated I had to read it, because his boss thought it was a necessary read. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2004 by Kevin M Quigg
5.0 out of 5 stars Realworld examples that help define real Leadership
This an excellent book. Exceptionally written. Micheal Abrashoff provides real world examples that help define real leadership. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Mark D. Molter
4.0 out of 5 stars This book deserves a salute
This Navy captain is a no-nonsense guy and his words could help any manager. He lays out his leadership ideas clearly and concisely, without jargon and self-promotion. Read more
Published on Dec 10 2003 by Paul S. Hartwick
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Tone, Excellent Advice
This book is an excellent resource for managers and leaders within organizations. It takes the lessons of a Navy captain learned during his first command, and puts the advice in... Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2003 by ChrisBrogan
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