Today, we’re going to cover the thirteenth lesson I learned from the book Starship Troopers. This is the thirteenth lesson in the 17-lesson mini-series. If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.
Lesson # 13: Top Heavy Organizations Are Sometimes Ineffective and Almost Always Ineffcient
Quote: “What kind of an army has more “officers” than corporals? (And more noncoms than privates!) An army organized to lose wars – if history means anything. An army that is mostly organization, red tape, and overhead, most of whose “soldiers” never fight.”
My Take: The best Armies are lean and mean. And nope, I’m not talking about physically tough (although that doesn’t hurt either). I’m talking about organizations that have the right percentage of officers compared to NCOs compared to Soldiers. When you have too many high ranking people and not enough lower ranking people in an organization, you will have lots of red tape, bureaucracy, inefficiency and problems.
I want to speak from personal experience for a moment. The most effective and most efficient units I’ve ever served in were small units (company level and below). I think they were successful because they have 1 officer in charge, a few subordinate officers, a fair amount of NCOs and lots of Soldiers. Think about a typical Army company for a moment. There are normally four to six officers, 20 to 30 NCOs and 60 to 100 Soldiers. Personally, I think that’s a good ratio. Because of the force structure, the unit is forced to be efficient. Bureaucracy is at a bare bones minimum.
When I compare that experience (company level) to my time on a Task Force Staff (1-star command) I served on there was a night and day difference. With the Task Force Staff, there was 1 General, probably about 20 Colonels, about 40 to 50 Lieutenant Colonels, more Majors and Captains than I can count, a few NCOs and hardly any Soldiers. While the staff still got the job done, it was far from efficient. In fact, you had so many people throwing their rank around trying to justify their position that it created more problems than it did good. And the bureaucracy and red tape was out of this world!
I think any organization that is top heavy will never be efficient. And in some cases they won’t be effective either. There should never be more brass than Soldiers, EVER! Anyone who has served in a top heavy unit knows what I am talking about.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.