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Worker Empowerment and Aleksandr V. Suvorov's The Science of Victory. But to the tale: -- great joy unto the camp!  To Russian, Tartar, English, French, Cossacque,  O'er whom Suwarrow shone like a gas lamp,  Presaging a most luminous attack  — Don Juan , Seventh Canto.

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worker empowerment and aleksandr v suvorov s the science of victory

Worker Empowerment and Aleksandr V. Suvorov's The Science of Victory

But to the tale: -- great joy unto the camp!  To Russian, Tartar, English, French, Cossacque,  O'er whom Suwarrow shone like a gas lamp,  Presaging a most luminous attack

—Don Juan, Seventh Canto

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

aleksandr v suvorov 1729 1800
Aleksandr V. Suvorov, 1729-1800
  • Possibly the greatest military commander who ever lived
    • 63 victories and no losses
    • Defeated some of Napoleon's future marshals and was feared by Napoleon
    • Would have easily made mincemeat of Frederick the Great
  • Why rate Suvorov #1?
    • Alexander the Great and Frederick the Great inherited formidable and well-trained armies from their fathers. Suvorov created his own from poorly-motivated Russian serfs.
  • His success came primarily from organizational development, including training and empowerment. The same principles are usable in business.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

suvorov s organization summary
Suvorov's Organization: Summary
    • "Where did all the Russians come from?"
  • Suvorov's campaign strategies and battle tactics relied on extremely rapid movement and decisive shock. The enemy (ideally) never knew what hit him.
    • "Money is dear; human life is still dearer; but time is dearest of all. … One minute decides the outcome of a battle, one hour the success of a campaign, one day the fate of empires" (Menning, 1986)
    • "The enemy doesn't expect us, reckons us 100 versts away suddenly we're on him, like snow on the head; his head spins. Attack with what comes up, with what God sends; the cavalry to begin, smash, strike, cut off, don't let slip, hurra!"

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

speed isn t free
Speed Isn't Free
  • It was one matter for Suvorov to want speed and decisive shock and another to achieve it.
    • Contemporary tactics were limited by the need to keep large numbers of men in formations and even to prevent desertion. Fear of desertion (by their own cavalry) often deterred commanders from pursuing a beaten enemy.
    • A formation that tried to move too quickly would soon get out of step and become disorganized and ineffective.
  • Suvorov understood that his desired methods would require:
    • Empowerment, so his men could operate without constant direction by superiors
    • Training to enable his soldiers to perform unprecedented and seemingly-impossible tasks

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

suvorov s environment and competitors
Suvorov's Environment and Competitors
  • During the 18th century, most commanders regarded soldiers as automatons who were to do exactly (and only) what they were told.
    • This illustrates a mechanistic organizational model, in which performance is measured on compliance with rigid rules.
    • Results were achieved largely through punishment or threat of punishment.
    • Frederick II of Prussia: "Good will can never induce the common soldier to stand up to such dangers; he will do so only through fear [of his own officers]."
      • Frederick's own words describe his attitude toward his soldiers, and we will compare this to the organization that Suvorov developed. It will be clear that Suvorov's organization could have beaten "Old Fritz" decisively.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

nauka pobezhadt the science of victory
Nauka Pobezhadt (The Science of Victory)
  • It was written for the workforce as well as the management.
    • "One of the most remarkable things about 'The Science of Victory' was the fact that a major part of it was deliberately put into language comprehensible to the common soldier. A large section of 'The Art of Victory' had to be learned by heart by every man."
    • "This is the first known record on the art of war intended not only for officers but for every serving man. If an army understood and acted upon this manual, its commander could accomplish things no other general could."
    • It encompassed not merely procedures but an organizational culture— "the way we do things around here."

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

suvorov s quality statement
Suvorov's "Quality Statement"
  • At the end of each day's work, everyone was to shout, "Subordination, Obedience, Discipline, Training, Military Formation, Military Order, Cleanliness, Neatness, Health, Cheerfulness, Courage, Bravery, Formation Exercise, Victory and Glory!"
    • Far from sloganeering (against which Deming warned), these words encompass much of The Science of Victory. In Suvorov's organizational culture, a single word or short phrase conveyed enormous meaning.
    • As an example, Suvorov's rules for personal and camp hygiene, along with diet— "Cleanliness, Neatness, and Health"— reduced the Russian Army's attrition losses to about 1 percent, versus 20 to 25 percent for contemporary armies.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

suvorov on empowerment
Suvorov on Empowerment
  • In contrast to his contemporaries' demand for mindless (as opposed to disciplined) obedience, "Suvorov was no believer in unwitting compliance with orders. A soldier had to understand what he did, know what his commander wanted" (Longworth, 1966, 216).
    • Suvorov "detested stupidity and blind routine and did all in his power to make the men think for themselves." "In striking contrast to the rule of Frederick II [Frederick the Great] of converting soldiers into automata, Suvorov's system was based on the development of the soldiers' intelligence and their understanding of the tasks they were called upon to perform" (Ossipov, 1945, 17).
    • "Every soldier must understand his maneuver."

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

teamwork and self direction
Teamwork and Self-Direction
  • Russian soldiers were expected to use judgment, initiative, and teamwork to achieve their superiors' objectives— as opposed to waiting for an officer to tell them what to do.
  • Suvorov instructed his troops in short sentences that had enormous meaning for anyone who understood his system.
    • If a scaling ladder was too short to get over a wall, Suvorov instructed, "Bayonet into the wall– climb on to it, after him another and a third. Comrade help comrade!"
    • This is not just a cookbook solution to a specific problem. It means to think about the problem, identify the resources that may be available to solve it, and work as a team to implement the solution.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

teamwork examples
Teamwork Examples
  • During Suvorov's campaign in Switzerland, the French destroyed the Devil's Bridge— the only bridge across a river in the confined mountain paths. The enlisted men dismantled a nearby barn, tied the planks together with officer's sashes, and used them to bridge the gap.
  • At Suvorov's funeral, the monks who were carrying his coffin could not get through a narrow archway in the chapel. Some grenadiers who had served with him proclaimed, "Suvorov must pass everywhere" and lifted the casket above their heads. This narrowed the procession's width enough to fit through the archway: a truly fitting monument to the organization Suvorov had created!

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

demanding initiative
Demanding Initiative
  • Suvorov wanted his followers to think for themselves and exercise judgment and initiative.
    • Suvorov detested Nichtwissers ("know-nothings" or "I-don't-know-Sirs"), i.e. people who were unwilling to take responsibility for thinking for themselves.
    • Unterkunft (literally "under the bed") meant errors of omission, such as failure to exploit opportunities.
      • A single word could carry enormous meaning.
    • He often accosted soldiers with seemingly-insane questions like "How many stars are in the sky?" One private admitted to not knowing but said he would count them at once and actually began to do so. Suvorov did not expect the man to know the answer; what delighted him was the man's immediate willingness to work on a problem that even skilled astronomers could not have solved.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

empowerment requires training
Empowerment Requires Training
  • The Russian Army could not have achieved this level of empowerment without thorough and diligent training. Suvorov wrote in Nauka Pobezhadt (The Science of Victory):
    • "Training is light, and lack of training is darkness. The problem fears the expert. If a peasant doesn't know how to plow, he can't grow bread. A trained man is worth three untrained: that's too little- say six- six is too little- say ten to one. In the last campaign the enemy lost 75,000 counted, but more like 100,000 in fact. He fought with skill and desperation, but we didn't even lose 500."
    • The 200:1 casualty ratio was the direct product of the Russian Army's superior training and organization.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

training requires top level commitment
Training Requires Top-Level Commitment
  • Lord Byron's Don Juan gives the famous lover and swashbuckler a role in the siege of Ismail, where he meets Suvorov. Byron describes Suvorov's success secret explicitly but dismisses it as a waste of time!

Glory began to dawn with due sublimity,  While Souvaroff, determined to obtain it,   Was teaching his recruits to use the bayonet. 

It is an actual fact that he, commander  In chief, in proper person deign'd to drill  The awkward squad, and could afford to squander  His time, a corporal's duty to fulfil

  • Suvorov's personal example actually emphasized to everyone in the organization the importance of training!

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

when top level commitment isn t there
When Top-Level Commitment isn't there
  • Michael L. George's Lean Six Sigma reports that a CEO brought in W. Edwards Deming to give his senior executives a Total Quality Management seminar. He said that he was "totally committed to the process" and expected his executives' "complete attention and support"— and then he left the room. A senior executive reported later that "commitment flew out the window" with the CEO's departure, and that managers who were supposed to watch the 16‑hour videotape of Deming's lecture merely read the videocassette's cover instead.
  • It should now be evident that Suvorov was not "squandering his time" by drilling soldiers personally instead of delegating this task to a noncommissioned officer.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

training cannot be overemphasized
Training Cannot be Overemphasized
  • When times are difficult, many organizations cut the training budget. Suvorov, in contrast, was firm in his position that poorly-trained workers cannot achieve outstanding results. Byron records that,
    • Also he dress'd up, for the nonce, fascines  Like men with turbans, scimitars, and dirks,  And made them charge with bayonet these machines,  By way of lesson against actual Turks:  And when well practised in these mimic scenes,  He judged them proper to assail the works
    • Only when the workers were properly trained ("well practicsed in these mimic scenes") did Suvorov assign them a critical task.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

managing by wandering around
Managing by Wandering Around
  • Tom Peters describes management by wandering around (MBWA), which the Japanese call gemba leadership. It means going to the value-adding workplace instead of trying to lead the organization from a corner office.

 Fosters morale and commitment, and the leader knows what is actually going on.

  • In contrast to the despised "chateau generals" of the First World War, Byron's Don Juan describes Suvorov's performance at Ismail as follows:
    • Suwarrow chiefly was on the alert,  Surveying, drilling, ordering, jesting, pondering;  Now Mars, now Momus; and when bent to storm  A fortress, Harlequin in uniform.
    • Suwarrow, who was standing in his shirt  Before a company of Calmucks, drilling,  Exclaiming, fooling, swearing at the inert,  And lecturing on the noble art of killing

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

other mbwa examples
Other MBWA Examples
  • King Henry V at Agincourt

A largess universal like the sun

His liberal eye doth give to every one,

Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,

Behold, as may unworthiness define,

A little touch of Harry in the night.

—King Henry V, Act IV, Prologue

    • The French commanders, in contrast, spent the evening comparing their horses and suits of armor. They later referred to their infantrymen as "superfluous lackeys."
  • Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
    • "…he counted on word of mouth less than other generals of his age, because of his settled practice of 'taking trouble,' that is, going to see for himself" (Keegan, 1987, 157).
  • "Henry [Ford] didn't much care for sitting in his office. He preferred to walk through his factories and talk to his workers" Gourley (1997, 38).

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

even more mbwa
Even More MBWA
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor on MBWA
    • "…the close, intimate cooperation, the constant personal contact between the two sides [labor and management], will tend to diminish friction and discontent. It is difficult for two people whose interests are the same, and who work side by side accomplishing the same object, all day long, to keep up a quarrel" (1911, Principles of Scientific Management).
    • "The employer who goes through his works with kid gloves on, and is never known to dirty his hands or clothes, and who either talks to his men in a condescending and patronizing way, or else not at all, has no chance whatsoever of ascertaining their real thoughts or feelings" (1911, Shop Management).

 You can't run a war from a chateau or a business enterprise from a corner office or penthouse.

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

the morale blitz
The "Morale Blitz"
  • The kaizen blitz is designed to reward workers and improve their morale by providing results within a week.
  • Suvorov's personal leadership paid enormous dividends at Ismail.
    • When he arrived, "The troops were badly trained, badly fed and badly clothed." (Longworth adds that the Turkish defenders outnumbered them three to two.)
    • "Only eight days had passed since Suvorov appeared in the Russian camp, but during this period the Russian troops were transformed. One of the witnesses of the assault subsequently stated that the spirit of emulation filled both men and officers, every one rushed where the fight was hottest, completely ignoring the danger" (Ossipov, 1945, 43-44).
    • Can similar results be achieved in industry under the right leadership?

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.

suvorov s bottom line
Suvorov's Bottom Line

But let me put an end unto my theme: 

There was an end of Ismail —hapless town!

Suwarrow now was conqueror.

—Byron, Don Juan

  • The Russians succeeded in taking Ismail by assault, a deed that was considered virtually impossible without a lengthy siege or bombardment.
  • This achievement required training the workforce to make it capable of the task and empowerment to overcome obstacles on a real-time basis.
  • Suvorov also energized his workforce sufficiently to get it to persist until the job was completed, despite high casualties. Similar results should be achievable in civilian workplaces!

© 2005 Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C.