Naval Gazing

One of my customers is fascinated (or should that be obsessed?!) with military history, and also its relevance to sales war zones.  He’s called Ken Welsh and kindly sent me a couple of his fave tales from this sphere.  The first is from George C Scott in “Patton: Lust for Glory”:

“Now there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We are not holding anything. We’ll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding on to anything except the enemy. We are going to hold onto him by the nose and we’re going to kick him in the ass. We’re gonna kick the hell out of him all the time and we’re gonna go through him like crap through a goose!”

And then there’s Ken’s all-time hero; Nelson.  His groundbreaking tactic meant he won despite having only 27 ships against 33, and the mastery of engaging 12 versus 22 allowed early casualties of 1,200 deaths and injuries to be dwarfed by the Franco-Spanish, who lost 19 ships with 6,000 casualties and nearly 20,000 prisoners.

It’s heralded as a classic example of naval warfare, with two potential sales management lessons:

  • the power of a strategy well communicated to a team and executed with timing, resulting in concentration of force, momentum and victory.
  • Nelson trusted his men implicitly. Each team member was given complete control to make decisions without having to seek authority further up the line. He knew “semaphore” (signalling orders by flags) actually became useless in the gloom of battle.

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