Saturday, October 4, 2014

Commands that make rank

 YOKOSUKA, Japan (March 1, 2007) - Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jason Dillon and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ann Hammerer fill in test cycle information during the Navy-Wide Advancement Exam on board Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Advancement exams for the E-4 through E-6 are offered twice a year, in March and September. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John L. Beeman (RELEASED)

At some point, during the next promotion phase, Navy Times will probably publish an article about which commands have the best and worst selection rate. The article will imply that somehow if you go to these commands you stand a better chance at making rank than others.

I hate these articles because I have heard they drive Sailors decisions as to where to request orders. Just like how most politics are local, commands have all sorts of reasons for being good or bad on a given year for promotion. It has much more to do with the command team than the actual command, yet I don't see Navy Times tracking which reporting seniors tend to get people promoted (wouldn't THAT be an interesting article).

It does make me think of this article by Seth Godin:



A fever is a symptom. There's an underlying disease that causes it. Giving you a fever (sitting in a sauna) doesn't make you sick, and getting rid of the fever (in a cold bath, for example) doesn't always get rid of the illness. 

The New York Times bestseller list used to be a symptom, the symptom that a book was really popular. Now, it’s so easy to game and fake that some people have confused themselves into thinking that being on the list can actually cause your book to be popular.

It’s easy to be fooled into paying a lot to hire a salesperson who is leaving a fast-growing company. After all, it seems like hot-shot gifted salespeople are often the cause of a company growing fast. In fact, we often see that a fast-growing company seems to produce hot-shot salespeople (or programmers or whatever).

Does the really buzzy launch party make the movie good, or does a good movie get a better party?
Sometimes cause and effect can be flipped (enthusiastic people can become happy, or happy people become enthusiastic) but it’s often worth keeping track of which part of the process you’re trying to invest in and which part you're working to create.

Spending time and money gaming symptoms and effects is common and urgent, but it's often true that you'd be better off focusing on the disease (the cause) instead.

2 comments:

  1. I share your concerns and believe it irresponsible for us to allow the Navy Times to own the voice-over. At the same time, the number of people who get promoted should not be a metric of success for a a command or a reporting senior, nor should retention rate. As much as we want to help people make rank and "Stay Navy", we leaders also have a responsibility to hold those not ready for promotion back, and encourage people that are not aligned with continued service to decide to follow a different path. We ought to give every member of our team the tools necessary to promote and many reasons to want to stay in, but we ought not pay too much attention to the results without looking into the details as to why they are what they are. Thanks for the post and the application of Seth's wisdom.

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    1. Kind of like those warships that returned from a deployment happy that they had just qualified 100% of their officers and enlisted as surface warfare officers/specialists.
      The gold pin actually used to mean that the skipper trusted one to be Officer of the Deck, formation steaming after midnight. I'm not sure what the silver pin ever meant. I think it was like a Ph.D certificate.

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