In Malcom Gladwell’s bestselling book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, he provides an example how New York City lowered crime by employing a program based on the “Broken Window theory.” The theory was the brainchild of James Q. Wilson and George Kelling “who argued that crime is the result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge.” When this theory was put into practice in New York and the little things were taken care of (i.e. cleaning up graffiti) crime went down, and the residents of New York felt more secure and proud of their city.
The Navy’s new leadership team in Washington fortunately are not tasked with solving a crime wave in the fleet, but the concept of the Broken Window theory applies to any organization—fixing the little things can make a big difference.
For example, as a junior enlisted sailor in the early 1980s, I recall the morale boost created by the decision to toss out many of the experimental uniforms of the late 1970s and the return of classic Navy uniforms.
I recently polled approximately 40 of my active duty and retired Navy friends and asked them to “share one quick, cheap, and easy thing you would tell the new Navy leadership team to fix.” The respondents ranged in pay grade from E-6 to O-6. Here are the top five responses:
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Featured image courtesy of the US Navy.