My Kinda Guy!

Several Sunday papers reviewed Neil Sheehan’s A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon. It’s a “one guy against the world” story of the first order. Schriever either did a very good thing or a very questionable thing, depending on the reviewer. But what he did was clear. Against very powerful forces, such as bomber maniac and Strategic Air Command boss Curtis LeMay, Schriever proposed and developed, more or less singlehandedly, America’s ICBM capability—mainstay of our defense ever since.

It is a story of a “good strategic idea” (in the real world context of the Cold War) and overcoming immense technical-engineering challenges.

But that’s not why I’m writing this.

As most of you know, I think political skill is as important or more important than brilliance. And Schriever, a talented engineer, was an Uber-master Politican. The forces lined up against him amount to a list as long as your arm, with most of those named having far more rank than Schriever. Yet he prevailed—eventually convincing one of the most pragmatic people ever to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Dwight David Eisenhower.

Want to accomplish something, any-damn-thing?
Sharpen your political skills!
(And this holds for a 24-year-old non-manager working on her small part of a project almost as much as it did for Bernard Schriever.)

Tom Peters posted this on October 5, 2009, in Execution.
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