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Article by John Mosley - 1987
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General George Patton on Planetarium Management

John Mosley
Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, California 90027

[Reproduced from the Planetarian, October 1987]

It's always interesting to see how other disciplines solve the same problems that confront us. The management of a planetarium is, in its most basic terms, no different from managing a corporation or a society. The problem is to get people to work together productively to achieve the organization's goals.

General George S. Patton, Jr., commander of the U. S. Third Army in Europe during World War II, was one of this country's outstanding leaders. He earned the loyalty, respect, and even love of his staff and troops who would do anything for him. We call him a great general, but he was really a great administrator.

These quotes, taken from his book War as I Knew It, were written by General Patton in 1944. Many are memos of instruction on the principles of command to his staff officers. They refer specifically to military command in wartime, but it's easy to apply much of what he says to any work situation where the primary purpose of management is to insure that workers perform to their capabilities. You can read "manager" or "supervisor" for "officer," "staff meeting" for "inspection," and make other substitutions as appropriate.

The more senior the officer, the more time he has. Therefore, the senior should go forward to junior rather than call the junior back to him.

A General Officer who will invariably assume the responsibility for failure, whether he deserves it or not, and invariably give the credit for success to others, whether they deserve it or not, will achieve outstanding success.

All officers ... must be vitally interested in everything that interests the soldier. Usually you will gain a great deal of knowledge by being interested, but, even if you do not, the fact that you appear interested has a very high morale influence on the soldier.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise them with their ingenuity.

When a unit has been alerted for an inspection, do not fail to inspect it and inspect it thoroughly. Further, do not keep it waiting. When soldiers have gone to the trouble of getting ready ... they deserve the compliment of a visit.

Officers of inharmonious disposition, irrespective of their ability, must be removed. A staff cannot function properly unless it is a united family.

There is a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and much less prevalent.

The function of ... officers is to observe, not to meddle.

Remember that praise is more valuable than blame.

In carrying out a mission, the promulgation of the order represents not over ten percent of your responsibility. The remaining ninety percent consists in assuring by means of personal supervision ... proper and vigorous execution.

Plans must be simple and flexible. Actually they only form a datum plane from which you build as necessity directs and opportunity offers. They should be made by the people who are going to execute them.

Orders, formal or otherwise, concerning units further down than the next echelon of command, are highly prejudicial.

Use every means before and after combats to tell the troops what they are going to do and what they have done.

Officers who fail to correct errors or to praise excellence are valueless in peace and dangerous misfits in war.

Decorations are for the purpose of raising the fighting value of troops; therefore they must be awarded promptly. Have a definite officer on your staff educated in writing citations and see that they get through.

Keep your own orders short; get them out in time; issue them personally by voice when you can.

There is a tendency for the chain of command to overload junior officers by excessive requirements in the way of training and reports. You will alleviate this burden by eliminating nonessential demands.

From the book War as I Knew It by General George S. Patton, Jr., published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. Copyright 1947 by Beatrice Patton Waters, Ruth Patton Totten, and George Smith Patton. Copyright renewed ©1975 by Major General George Patton, Ruth Patton Totten, John K. Waters, Jr., and George P. Waters. Reprinted by permission.

Reproduced from the Planetarian, Vol. 16, #4, October 1987. Copyright 1987 International Planetarium Society. For permission to reproduce please contact Executive Editor, Sharon Shanks.

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