13 February 2011

A Captain Saying "I Have an Idea"...

The Good Idea Fairy struck me with her wand today.  I'm looking at doing a piece on micromanagement.

Question for the experts in Napoleonic warfare:  Are there any good references regarding Napoleon's decentralized leadership style during his early years, versus his centralized control methods later in his career?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you have access to JSTOR or not, but if you do, here's an article that deals with the later Napoleonic period, and discuss the relationship between his change in leadership style and defeat:

The Dynamics of Defeat: French Army Leadership, December 1812-March 1813
FC Schneid - Journal of Military History, 1999 - JSTOR

Starbuck said...

Unfortunately, I don't. Do I have to pay?

Ed Beakley said...

Starbuck,
Nothing on Nap, but would be interested in your effort as I am looking at similar idea for PWH 2011 boundary conditions in regard to George Washington. Issue here is Washington Vs Howe particularly as it relates to Winter 1776, 1777 on into Valley Forge. Good ref which I am writing from is the final chapter in Crossings, best noted book on Battles of Trenton, Princeton.
Will look forward to your effort.

David Ucko said...

Here is that paper, free for all:
http://www.reenactor.ru/ARH/PDF/Schneid.pdf

I know some think it's been done to death but Malaya was a good case study of decentralised decision-making. See:
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a773630876~frm=titlelink

ironcapt said...

I know Van Creveld's Command in War has a bit about Napolean at Jena. If memory serves, shorty gave detailed orders to some of his commanders (the less bright ones), gave shorter ones to his better commanders (go east, find enemy, attack, you can figure out the rest yourself), and essentially forgot about others during the battle.

Hexsaw said...

If you're interested in bringing in civilian/corporate thoughts on this, consider looking at some of the methods that agile development teams use to create software. Some of them (Scrum in particular) are fairly work-agnostic - they provide a good framework for teams to accomplish things with minimal management overhead, regardless of whether you're coding or trying to figure out how to achieve the commander's intent. What's most interesting to me about the agile frameworks is how they keep the manager closely tied with the team for determining goals, while keeping managers away from the team for implementation specifics.

M.L said...

I'd recommend starting with John Boyd's treatment of Napoleon in Patterns of Conflict (http://dnipogo.org/john-r-boyd/) starting on slide 33.

Boyd gives you the big pieces and his list of sources at the end of the slideshow.