By Harry Gray and Greg Calaman, graduates of the US Naval Academy and Senior Partners at The Lucas Group
As Naval Officers, we were trained to guarantee results are delivered on time, without fail, in mission-critical situations. This included everything from complex nighttime beach landings to the construction and operation of massive warships. Despite the stress of these situations, our Navy functions with a crispness unparalleled elsewhere in the world.
On the other hand, as consultants to private equity groups, we have seen many operating companies fall flat in situations where leadership has the perfect strategy and the right people—but lacks an execution plan.
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So, how can companies operate more like the Navy? Increasingly, smart firms are implementing military operating principles to help their leaders succeed. Here are the five key elements that, when woven into a coherent plan, can substantially grow EBITDA:
1. Proactive leadership from the top of the organization
2. Critical, established goals that ‘Must Be Achieved’
3. Responsible parties for every goal—especially those that cut across functional jurisdictions
4. An urgent corporate tempo and team cadence for deliverables
5. A culture of ‘No Place to Hide’—a binary system where people are either delivering on their responsibilities or not, and corrective action can be taken
These elements must be intertwined into an all-encompassing programmatic effort with ‘staying power,’ adapted to the environment and culture of each specific situation. Organizations that are best able to enact such an operational strategy are the ones that succeed over the long-term.
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