Blackberrys, naval signalling and thinking for yourself

I’m reading this book about Scott’s expeditions to the Antarctic at the moment.

A bit of background information about the Royal Navy particularly interested me. It talks about communication between naval vessels in action. In Nelson’s time in the early 1800s it was very difficult, with the result that each captain had to rely on his own judgement and initiative. By the mid to late 1800s, however, improvements in naval signalling meant that captains relied far more heavily on orders from superior officers, with the result that initiative and individual thought was largely stifled, and the quality of naval leadership suffered badly as a result.

It struck me that there are parallels with today’s “always in touch” culture via mobile phones, emails, Blackberrys and the like, all of which discourage people from using their initiative and making a decision, because there’s always someone else to refer the decision upwards.

Maybe one day a week should be declared “trust your own judgement” day…


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