The ladder of control – The 200 words project

Here’s this week’s 200 word idea thanks to

David Marquet, Captain of the USS Santa Fe, followed a leadership principle – push authority to as low a level as possible. Under normal practice, officers would “request permission to” perform operations such as submerge the ship. The captain would approve and the officer would carry out the task.

David insisted his officers move up the ladder of control (below), stop asking permission, and instead state “Captain, I intend to submerge the ship” to which he would respond, “very well.” Initially, he had a lot of questions for the officers about whether it was safe, whether the preconditions were met, whether the team was ready, and whether it was the right thing to do. With time, he asked fewer and fewer questions as the officers learned to provide that necessary information at the same time they stated their intent.

The immediate and obvious benefit was that with this small shift in language, just a few words really, the officers became the driving force behind the submarine’s operations.

Perhaps we ought to consider moving our teams up the ladder of control as well..

Ladder of control

Source and thanks to:

‘Moving people from “request permission” to “I intend to…” raised them one rung on the ladder of control, from passive followers doing what they were told at the bottom to proactive engaged leaders, crafting the future, at the top. ‘ | David Marquet

Red and green buttons – The 200 words project

Here’s this week’s 200 word idea from Seth’s blog

Seth Godin was leading a team of forty people building a complex series of products which had to ship before Christmas. The stakes were high – if they missed by even one day, the entire company was going to fold. They approached it by doing an analysis of the “critical path” and quickly realized that it was a relay race and right now, there was one team carrying the baton.

So, Seth went out and got some buttons – green and red. The deal was simple: if you were on the critical path, you wore a green button. Everyone else wore red. When a red button met a green button, a simple question was asked, “how can I help?” The President would get coffee for the illustrator if it saved the illustrator three minutes. In other words, the red button people never (ever) get to pull rank or interrupt a green button person.

 An understanding of the critical path and an early urgency ensured they made it. As Seth says – “Rush early, not late. It’s cheaper that way, and better for your peace of mind, too.”


Source and thanks to:

‘Once you’re aware of who’s on the path, you understand the following: delaying the critical path by one hour at the beginning of the project is the very same thing as delaying the entire project by an hour at the very end. ‘ | Seth Godin