Getting things done

From Lawdog [no url]:

There is a mental exercise — probably used by every military organisation since Alexander — which was described to me as a sprogling in Deepest Africa by a Rhodesian officer as “The Sandhurst Flagpole Test.”

“Sandhurst” being, of course, the British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, but I’ve heard various iterations of the same riddle posed to me in the U.S. Army.

Anyhoo, the test is as such: a bright young proto-officer is brought into a room where he faces a panel of instructors. This proto-officer is told that the next exercise is a mental one, that the parameters are that he is the officer in charge of a small unit consisting of a sergeant, a corporal and ‘X’ number of soldiers. There is equipment consisting of one standard two-piece flagpole, digging implements, various lengths of rope and bags of concrete. The proto-officer is informed that the task assigned is to erect a flagpole on that very spot, and asked what orders he would give to effectuate this?

At this point, the hapless cadet usually begins giving precise details of whom would be ordered to do what, leading to the lead instructor raising a paw and solemnly announcing that the proto-officer has failed the exercise.

The flustered proto-officer is then informed that there is one order, and one order only, which would pass the test, and that order is: “Sergeant, get that flagpole up.”

3 comments for “Getting things done

  1. Lord T
    September 6, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I always laugh at our managers who insist on hiring experienced people at great cost and them micromanage them. Just give them clear instructions and get out of the way. Should be basic management.

    • Ted Treen
      September 6, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      In my own career – now over as I’m nearly 67 – I can count the managers who didn’t micromanage me, almost on the thumbs of one hand. Most had risen to their position because of a “flair” for admin yet had a lack of knowledge or understanding of what was a quite technical role.

      Ah well, I’m out of it now,

  2. September 6, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I actually put this up at the wrong blog, LOL. Not to worry, let it stand.

Comments are closed.