Oct

19

Post CaptainI started Master and Commander a couple of times, and for various reasons, didn't get into it. Also, while on the road, I bought a copy of Post Captain on tape, but again, my listening was interrupted by events, and I never returned to it. I wound up convincing myself that the Aubrey/Maturin series just wasn't my cup of tea.

But then, the other day I pulled the box of cassettes of Post Captain off the shelf and decided to take it with me on my afternoon hike. Suddenly, it all makes sense to me, and I'm hooked. Mr Tull's reading is just the right pace to give me time to understand and enjoy. I admire Aubrey but resonate more with Maturin — and I think I, too, would have a thing for Diana V. Now I have all twenty novels to look forward to. What a pleasure.

Paolo Pezzutti adds:

It is exciting to read about traditions, situations and procedures that are still in use in navies worldwide. Most of all I like reading about the organization of the ship, the role played onboard by each member of the crew. The basic organization still stands the test of time. The type of relationships and the psychology between the Captain and his men are still there. At the Spec Party I had the pleasure to discuss this with Vic and Laurel. Promptly the question was: If this type of organization is so successful that is still valid after centuries, do think it could be applied to other types of organizations? I had to expect this question from Vic and Laurel because of their multi-disciplinary approach and their efforts to see links between different disciplines. Of course, I did not have an answer ready at the time! A partial answer could be that the organization used on board a ship can work in small and vertical organizations, up to a few hundred people. This is because personal relationships are important and the possibility to vertically control the organization cannot be effective when you have too many layers. The business of the organization has to be operational. The mechanisms to delegate activities but not responsibilities are very well established. Procedures and roles are clear. In an operation-like environment the Captain takes care directly of the operational outcome of the actions, while his executive officer works on the internal routine aspects of the organization. On board a ship there are also apects of a matrix organization, especially in combat. For instance fire-fighting, firing a gun, boarding another ship: it requires horizontal coordination of competences and services. This critical aspect of coordination is more complex in big organizations. This organization can fit in situations where your operation is performed throughout the 24 hours. Operation centers of any kind — security, production, monitoring, emergency services, construction, etc. May be even a trading room that operates globally. With this in mind, when I read Patrick O'Brian now I always start to build relationships and find parallels of how we could reuse that expertise today. It is a nice exercise to train your mind.


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