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> the reality is if the military were in the business of making a profit, retaining employees, or pleasing customers, it would fail miserably.

Is that because of management issues or because of the intrinsic issues that come from being in the business of killing people to gain land, resources, power, or whatever?




As a former Marine, I can say it's a bit of both.

Obviously, the job is stressful all in itself. While I did not go to combat myself, I have lost friends, I've delivered flags to families of Marines who fell in combat, and have also just had a lot of beers with friends who could not cope with some of the actions that they had to endure in combat.

Secondly, management is certainly an issue like any other company. I won't go in lots of details here, but for half of my enlistment, I loved my leadership as they pushed me hard and helped me grow. They very clearly wanted to make me a better Marine and person. They were as close as family to me. They were very balanced. They knew when to be be hard, and when not to be. On the other hand, for the second half, It was the complete opposite and my time was miserable.

I experienced similar things in the private industry, only with much less physical labor. :)


They're linked. When you are managing people who can legally be put in jail or shot for not following orders, the dynamic is quite different.

Especially in the case of Marines, if you have a very well defined objective that requires brute force to solve, that's the ideal situation for them and they'll do amazing things. Anything that's a gray area, not covered by rules, or that requires creativity or questioning authority... It's not going to end in a good result.

I can't count the number of times Marine officers did ridiculously inefficient or plain stupid things because an authority figure or regulation said so. Usually the justification was, "the rules are there for a reason," or something similar. Whole that might be true, the idea that someone in authority can, in advance, create a set of rules that we can blindly follow to a successful outcome is insane for all but the most desperate situations.

Most of the military was like that to some extent.


> the idea that someone in authority can, in advance, create a set of rules that we can blindly follow to a successful outcome is insane for all but the most desperate situations.

I can think of two redeeming qualities for such sets of rules, if applied and understood correctly:

1. Eliminating indecision. If figuring out what to do is too difficult (or none of the options are better than others), you have a somewhat sane defaults to fall back to. Indecision has costs too.

2. Making things more predictable upstream. Authorities may make up some rules that may not be most effective when applied by the bottom line, but they normalize the entire bottom line, making it easier to manage. This is similar to what we do with frameworks in software - we trade efficiency and flexibility for consistency, in order to build an abstraction layer that's less complex to work with. Misapplied, this of course leads to tragic/comical examples, both in organizations and in software (e.g. Electron).




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