13 Ways Military Organization is Better (Part 2)

By | September 3, 2019

[September 3, 2019]  Yesterday, I wrote that the U.S. military’s organization is superior to most civilian companies (see link here).  What makes it different?  I’ve come up with 13 ways that show why the military is better.  Today, I’ll list the final eight methods.2

This article is based, in part, on work done by Christopher Littlestone, who is the editor in chief of Life is a Special Operation. 1  I highly recommend his work.

What follows is a list of the final eight of 13 ways the military is better.  You too can use these to improve your work:

  1. Formal leader Training Programs: The military has a continuous educational program that requires all leaders to participate. A leader spends a great deal of their total time in training; often exceeding 25 to 50 percent of their total time in their career.  Professional development is also part of the military culture.
  2. Vacation: the U.S. military gives 30 days paid vacation a year. This is on top of passes and long weekends.  Longer time off is associated with improved long-term performance and life/family satisfaction.
  3. Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs): To ensure success, the military has written methods for almost everything they do that is important. An SOP spells out specific tasks in detail.  There is no debate, a method is given, and followed.  If you can demonstrate a better way, they will change their SOP.
  4. Dedicated Staffs: Devoted staff members can free up the workers so that work is done more efficiently.  More often than not, companies are inundated with paperwork.  A staff that is expert in such matters makes for a better functioning company.
  5. Focus: A requirement of the military is that you must be mentally and physically present at all times. There is no Facebook, cell phone, or Skype time when on duty.  A person’s private life does affect the military and you may be told what you can or cannot do off-duty.
  6. Taking Responsibility: The military can violate your personal, private life to ensure you are not doing something stupid. This may seem appalling but it keeps young people from making simple life mistakes that would otherwise follow them the rest of their lives.  Private businesses will not do this but it will negatively impact on the business at some point.
  7. Dressing for Success: The military has uniforms and detailed standards on how to wear it properly.  This includes personal hygiene, haircut appearance, and body shape.  If you look good, you also feel good and perform better.
  8. Formalizing After Action Reviews: When any major event occurs, good or bad, there is always a formal review of what went right and what went wrong and why.  The lessons are then programmed into any follow-on event that is similar.   Everyone participates because the perspective of right and wrong will change depending upon their perspective.

I’m interested in what others have to say about their own ways they’ve seen that makes an organization work better.  Overall, the U.S. military is better.  I believe that to be a fact.  If you have examples of a large organization working better, let me know about it.


  1. Based on a YouTube video by “Life is a Special Operation.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRGZUZXd5C4
  2. A summary of the first five from yesterday are listed here:
  • Codified Codes of Behavior and Values:
  • Standards:
  • Equal Pay:
  • Physical Fitness:
  • Open Honesty:
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “13 Ways Military Organization is Better (Part 2)

  1. Joe Omerrod

    Pragmatic, enjoyable, and worthy of a thorough read. Too many leaders simply take their organization for face value and are not in a position to improve things. Maybe they should take a closer look at a working model.

  2. Jerome Smith

    Great series. I enjoyed it all. These are some truly well-thought out items to put into my leadership rucksack.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Thanks Jerome. I haven’t heard from you in a while. Yes, this is a thoughtful list and also worthy. I’ve forwarded it to my old Army buddy, James Concord, Jr. from the Bronx NY. He is an expert in leadership (as much as anyone can be) for comment. I’ll put something out when I hear from him.

  3. Mikka Solarno

    Like I said yesterday, enjoyable article. Yet it is also very useful. I think young leaders have the most to gain from this understanding.

  4. Max Foster

    Interesting ideas. How ‘dressing for success’ made it in the list is something surprising to me. But, I think much of the list is correct. Of them all, I do think that leader development is the military’s strong suite. It enables the best to rise to the top quicker. I’ve witnessed companies that don’t “train” leaders but allow them to rise on their own merits. The problem is that this takes too long and leaves damage in its systemic wake. More to come on this idea.

    1. Wilson Cox

      As usual, great comment Max. I too was thinking about the “dress for success” but not so much about how the rest of it falls in line. I liked the article in its entirety and not just for one or two items on the list.

  5. Roger Yellowmule

    Great list here. I’ll be sharing this with my “civilian” boss to see what he thinks.

    1. Greg Heyman

      I will be of interest what he has to say. Let us know, Roger.

  6. Yusaf from Texas

    Right and I’m glad the NYC mayor (de Blasio) was unable to buy his way into the US presidential election. What a puss.

  7. Harry Donner

    It is rare to find any government organization that functions efficiently and effectively. The rest of the govt should adopt some of the same principles. They will not do it. Why? Because all govts partly have a mission just to employ people. Now that is not right but just look at New York City and their army of ticket givers. Not right but that is the fact.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Yep, I agree Harry. They give you a ticket for putting your garbage out too early, too close to the curb, not wrapped in twine, etc. etc. They have city employees that drive around all day just looking to give you a ticket for some minor infraction but they welcome illegal aliens into the city to give them a free ride. Crazy?

      1. Ed Berkmeister

        How sadly true about New York City. The big apple is in decline under its current ‘leadership’. They need to rethink their govt model. If you doubt me, then why is the mayor’s popularity in freefall. Why do the cops hate him? Why are all services in decline and customer service in the tank? Bad leadership. Please adopt some of these NYC or you will fail.

      2. Drew Dill

        San Fran, Chicago, Washington DC, and all the Democratic Party controlled cities are all in serious decline with rising murder and violent crime rates, rising taxes, and out migration of those who work for a living. And they think it is someone’s elses fault. Socialism cannot be wrong. Ha Ha.

  8. The Kid 1945

    Excellent two-part series on the U.S. military versus ordinary commercial businesses. The contrast is striking.

  9. Army Captain

    I would add that the leadership of the US military also insists upon a culture of openness and honesty. That allows more fair communication among its members and a more accurate flow of info.

    1. Tracey Brockman

      Good point, Army Captain. While the list is comprehensive, I do think we could add something to it. That is why I enjoy and learn from the commentators here.

  10. Albert Ayer

    Ah yes, Part 2. Thanks Gen. Satterfield. I finally got to close out my reading of this excellent 2 part series. Well done!

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      I will be giving these two article to my high school classes later this week. We just started this morning after summer vacation. It will be nice way to start the school year and with something for them to get used to thinking after a long summer of no brain activity.

      1. Nick Lighthouse

        Make them THINK so that they may learn to think on their own.

    2. Eva Easterbrook

      I believe Gen. Satterfield made it two parts because it was so long. Plus he got us to come back and read the follow-on article today. Good way to do business. Any way, I would be coming back to read it again.

      1. JT Patterson

        Spot on comment. Good to see you back on Gen. Satterfield’s blog.

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