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Book review: Turn The Ship Around

Everything I know about submarines, I learned from A Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. But everything I know about turning a ragtag submarine crew that couldn’t get promoted into the highest ranking boat in the Pacific I learned from L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around.

I have never read a book that so clearly took to heart both servant leadership and how to get would-be followers to become leaders. Every chapter is a gem, including the sets of questions at the end of each chapter, where the reader can pause for reflection. One of my favorites is around being a new leader and understanding the current crew. Marquet interviewed the chiefs and officers, starting with asking them about their people. Then he asked them a loosely structured set of questions like these:

  • What are the things you are hoping I don’t change?
  • What are the things you secretly hope I do change?
  • What are the good things about Santa Fe (the ship) we should build on?
  • If you were me, what would you do first?
  • Why isn’t the ship doing better?
  • What are your personal goals for your tour here on Santa Fe?
  • What impediments do you have to doing your job?
  • What are your biggest frustrations about how Santa Fe is currently run?
  • What is the best thing I can do for you?

Want to get an overview of the whole book? Check out my extensive Twitter thread:

Book: Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders
Author: L. David Marquet
Buy it: Bookshop Santa Cruz // Amazon // Google

Review by Abi Jones

Abi Jones is the UX Manager for Imaging & Diagnostics in Google Health. She leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers and designers focused on using artificial intelligence to assist in diagnosing cancer and preventing blindness.
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