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Love these guys. And think extreme ownership is as good any leadership book out there. This one, however, was more of a rehash of the prior work than I expected; a lot of the same stories and felt a bit like trying to spread the same basic content over a second book, which is a challenge I’m sure gonna they tried to deal with.
3.0 out of 5 starssimple crisp descriptions of simple ideas
Reviewed in the United States on 24 December 2020
I have enjoyed nearly a dozen podcasts with Jocko Willink as a guest. He is intelligent, wise, and articulate. I was hoping for the same value in this book. I really wanted to enjoy this book. Here is the good and the bad:
The good 1. The SEALs stories that open each chapter are heavily detailed, intense, and great story telling. 2. The chapters are set up well with an opening SEALs story, a dissection of the leadership principles in the story in a few short pages, and a description of how the principles have been used in a business organization.
The bad 1. You basically have two books. A story about SEAL missions and a leadership book. You can skip the opening SEAL story of each chapter and lose nothing in comprehending, understanding, and applying the leadership principles. 2. The principles are simple and redundant with each others. You do not have 11 principles. There is really one: take any idea to the extreme and problems arise. 3. The business story examples in each chapter are poorly written. I know the dialogue is invented because the authors explain the rationale well in the Introduction. However, the invented dialogue between the authors and company executives borders on the absurd. The company executives in each chapter usually say how amazing the prior book was (Extreme Ownership), bust out quotes from the book, and then express bewilderment about an obvious problem. For instance, in one chapter the company executive tells his staff they are to have 2 hour meetings every day to go over details and this flanked by two other multi hour meetings and wonders why the staff don't seem to take initiative. The obvious answer: stop having so many meetings and let them spend some time in the day working. If you think I am kidding, read the invented business case study in Chapter 2: Own it all but empower others - "So. What do I do? the CEO asked. "How can I get them to take Extreme Ownership?" The answer is simple, but it isn't easy," I answered. "You have to give them ownership." 4. As an addition to the above, every business case study in every chapter feels like an advertisement for their consulting company. For instance, from p. 126 - "I had given a keynote presentation to the company's annual leadership off-site, and the combat principles we wrote about in Extreme Ownership had resonated powerfully with the team." from p. 151 - "She knew she needed help with that growth and had brought in Echelon Front to coach her and provide leadership training for her team." from p. 176 - "And look---we get Extreme Ownership, we've read the book. but I'll tell you I think we need some new product features..."
These two authors seem more trustworthy than 99% of business leadership writers. Their stories of bravery are awe-inspiring and aspirational. These guys are the real-deal. The book, however, could have been helped by a third author who helped edit the content. The book would have benefitted from concrete take-aways that do not require a purchase of their Echelon Front services. I will still be devouring their interviews on podcasts and wish them well.