Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy” as Want to Read:
It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  5,869 ratings  ·  449 reviews
The legendary tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today's uncertain business seas.


When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to
Hardcover, 212 pages
Published May 22nd 2002 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about It's Your Ship, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Travis Formulaic, maybe. I definitely feel like there's a predictability to his writing, but that's actually one of the strong points of the book. It is very…moreFormulaic, maybe. I definitely feel like there's a predictability to his writing, but that's actually one of the strong points of the book. It is very straight forward, without being too dry, full of rich, useful examples of his ideas.

While not specifically actionable (which, I feel, would have been a bit pedantic.. I don't like that aspect of some self-help books), I feel like his stories are very relatable, interesting, and easy to co-opt to any industry. He also does a good job of summarizing his points, which again I don't feel like negatively impacts the book.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,869 ratings  ·  449 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Craig Wright
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This summary is taken from

The U.S. Navy is perhaps the most technically-oriented service in the American military. Officers work their way up by developing and demonstrating comprehensive and immediate skills in the numerous individual systems that make ships responsive in combat. The focus here tends to be on technical competence – not necessarily on the sort of personal leadership ability that is emphasized more during an officer‘s development in the
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Find another management book. I think that the author is a little bit full of himself and his accomplishments. The leadership/management techniques that are identified in each chapter are good but not really new news.

Having spent some time in the Navy and seen how the surface warefare (the people that drive ships) community operates I have a feeling the techniques were new to him. There are a number of things that the author mentions that just sound a little fishy to me. He seems to claim that
Brian S.
May 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Good book if you are a civilian. If you are a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy, you must refrain from throwing the book across the room.

I put off reading this book for 10 years and I finally decided to get around to it on this deployment. As Executive Officer of a cruiser and growing up in the Navy post CDR Abrashoff's command tour, I am astonished at the level of self horn blowing. I heard this guy speak at the Naval Academy about 10 years ago when he got out. Now, mind you, he resigned at
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Abrashoff proves that crushing bureaucracy is no excuse for refusing to try new management styles. Within the confines of the Navy, where he could theoretically order personal to perform their best, Abrashoff finds ways - without violating regulations - of motivating his crew to want to perform their best. This book is an excellent read for anyone who thinks their workplace could be better.
This is my favorite book on business management. One day a director of sales handed it to me, and I casually put it aside, as there were hundreds of books at home patiently waiting for their turn to be read. Danged if I didn't keep stealing glances at the cover. I knew it was watching me. So I thought, why not read it at work? The books at home would never know. Separation of church and state, so to speak.

Microsoft has been in a freefall since it focused on Salutes
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to LaNae by: Work
Shelves: self-improvement
There were some good ideas in this book. However, by the end the self-congratulatory tone started to grate on my nerves. To be fair, he does give credit where credit is due. This was assigned reading for a recent conference I attended for work. One of my co-workers re-named it "My Ship Don't Stink". However, there were definitely good things to glean from this. Much of the message is to treat people in the manner in which they would like to be treated, show confidence in them, and the results ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm sorry and guilty for giving it 2 stars when everyone else seems to have rated it so highly. But I'm really sorry it doesn't work out for me. In my eyes, I see this book in the following way:

Some incident that happened (it can connect to whatever theory you want).
More Theory.
More Theory.
Some lecture.
Hard work is good bla bla.
Some other incident.


This is not what I was looking for. I was hoping for some kind of internal struggle maybe (in situations where we're not
Devin Partlow
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Let me try to sum this book up for you:
"Hello my name is Captain D. Michael Abraschoff and this is a book about how all the things I've done led to [superlative][nouns], in fact the best [qualifiers] I've ever seen. All of my decisions have had profound and everlasting effects on my environment of which are still in use today and every person in those environments has gone on to bigger and better things.

I've also been made aware of some correlations to business, so I've taken the time to
Bob Wallner
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership, audible
Reading the reviews before listening to the audio book I thought It's Your Ship was going to be very arrogant and boastful... What I took away was that the officer was proud of what he was able to accomplish despite a culture that was working against him.

I think this is a very good read for leaders who have been in a leadership role for a few years. Some of the topics that he suggests like knowing when to break rules, require a bit of experience and could easily be done incorrectly.

I did enjoy
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, re-read

Lead By Example:
Real leadership must be done by example, not precept. Whenever I could not get the
results I wanted, I swallowed my temper and turned inward to see if I was part of the
problem. I asked myself three questions:
1. Did I clearly articulate the goals?
2. Did I give people enough time and resources to accomplish the task?
3. Did I give them enough training?
I discovered that 90 percent of the time, I was at least as much a part of the problem as
my people were.
Never forget your effect
Robert Postill
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This ends up being a compare and contrast because having read Turn the Ship Around reading this book initially felt very similar and then eventually drifted away. I read Turn the Ship Around before It's Your Ship and so this review is coloured by that fact.

So the book takes you through the author's leadership journey. Early on the book focuses on the leaders that the author took lessons from. The good and the bad. After that the book discusses specific tactics the author used to drive good
Kevin Dinh
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very good take on leadership and an easy read for anyone who is super busy.
CDR Abrashoff had many basic leadership points that will allow anyone to further develop their own leadership attributes and beliefs. The points definitely allowed me to add to my leadership toolbox to be used in my role at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy as the Regimental Executive Officer and also in my future career as a Surface Warfare Officer (the same career path of CDR Abrashoff). Fun fact: I was able to work
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-and-studies
Advices in this book might seem outdated for most work places, they are still progressive and relevant to mine. If I must stay at where I am now, it’s not a bad idea to implement few of these tips into my work life. This is the first book on leadership written in a language that I both identify with and can appreciate. It gives me a lot to think about regarding what it means to be a good manager, the importance of good leadership, and ultimately if I can see myself fulfilling such a role.

I would
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: analysis, training
The author of this book becomes captain of a troubled ship and turns it into a high performer by his management techniques. There shouldn't be any real surprises for managers who are doing a good job. The problem is so many are doing a pathetic job. Unfortunately, I suspect the second category would not take these lessons to heart.
Viljami Kuosmanen
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mike's Benfold should be the golden standard for all business teams and organisations. An extremely practical guide for anyone wanting to become a better leader. Brilliant read!

May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anik Singal
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book - great stories, I would have loved more instruction

Overall great book. Quick and easy read. I felt it just need a bit more training teaching and how to.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have read on management. The stories are great. Captain Abrashoff breaks his management techniques down into 11 simple techniques. His techniques have changed how the navy operates, by taking calculated risks or as I like to put it - it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission if you want to be a risk taker. I admire how he treats his crew not as subordinates but truly believes that by building up people you build up your organization. He walks the walk and talks ...more
Brom Kim
Apr 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
This is an excellent business and management book for the post-Dot Com era, and a fun, light read packing a substantial heft in ideas.

While most of us don't lead anything like a guided missile destroyer, for any organization struggling with low morale, a jaded workforce, outdated command and control corporate culture, and operational problems, the parallels are vivid.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great audiobook version. Interesting lessons and stories related to leadership. Engaging and uplifting examples of leadership and development of people.
Debbie Thompson
If you enjoy learning how a damn smart leader works, this book is for you!
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good leadership book for me because it told lots of stories as it illustrates ideas. Stories make more sense to me than maxims when learning concepts.
Joshua Johnson
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the thinking out of the box ways of problem solving. Culture is very difficult to change without a majority on board.
Cyril Danthi
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author narrates examples of leadership where he turn around the worst ship to best ship and crew using 11 leadership techniques. What I feel unique is about the application of presence of mind and common-sense approach to the leadership system. Whether it is Armed Forces or the Organisations, all leaders face common challenge of getting the most out of the crews (Employees). This depends upon the three variables – The Leader’s needs, The organisation’s atmosphere, and the crew’s potential ...more
Daniel Dawson
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Best book about being a senior level naval officer.

“At the Naval Academy we studied legendary military leaders, from Alexander the Great to Dwight D. Eisenhower, but I sensed that something was missing from the portraits. Biographers described their victories and heroic gestures, but my years in the Navy taught me that the art of leadership lies in simple things- common sense actions that ensure high morale and increase the odds of winning.”

“Since a ship’s captain can’t hand out pay raises,
Shane Thompson
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
One of the most important life lessons I learned in Business School was the power of candid discussion amongst people with different viewpoints. You can call it diversity and inclusion, or markets, but in order to make decisions, no individual can possess superior knowledge on their own. I apply that theme in every opportunity I get, practicing asking key questions and listening over trying to repeat the narrow band of perhaps marginally superior information I do possess.
Among topics, Management
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is actually a re-release of a 2002 book by a distinguished US Navy Destroyer Captain that focuses on his service aboard the USS Benfold. The book is organized around a series of leadership and management topics that Capt. Abrashoff uses to organize his reflections. The trajectory of the book is the transformation of the ship from an underperforming unit with high turnover and lower than average performance ratings into one of if not the “Best Damn Ship in the Navy” (the book provides the ...more
Dio Handoyo
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you turn around an underperforming organization? Captain (ret.) Mike Abrashoff has shown, if you distill his list of leadership principles, that the answer is to empower the crew through setting your own example, creating the right environment, and exerting direct influence.

Reading through the book, I found the collection of stories used to illustrate each principle very interesting in the way that being in command of a ~9,000-ton platform of sea-based firepower is actually akin to being
Jason Bunnell
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I definitely liked this book, but there were some elements that made it hard to read. I agree with the leadership principles, but it felt self aggrandizing in an extreme. Captain Abrashoff stresses the importance of developing leaders and empowering subordinates to make improvements. Yet somehow Captain Abrashoff takes credit for all of these changes. Even the subtitle of the book suggests his ship is the best the whole Navy. I wonder how other Captains feel about that? This book just ...more
I’m not so sure about this book being able to personally help me with my ship…being a middle aged wife and mom who only works away from home on a part-time basis and all…but I do have a ship, and I know some parents who run a tight ship but mine, well mine you see, is more like a pirate ship. There's mild cussing and moderate drinking(on my part) and the occasional mutiny from the crew I created, but it's still a ship!

With that being said, the book was an easy enough read and I suppose I
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders
  • The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits
  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
  • The Idea-Driven Organization: Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas
  • Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
  • Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times
  • The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer
  • Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead
  • The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
  • It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership
  • The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
  • About Face: Odyssey Of An American Warrior
  • Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership
  • The On-Time, On-Target Manager: How a "Last-Minute Manager" Conquered Procrastination
  • The Infinite Game
  • The One Thing You Need to Know: ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success
  • Leaders Eat Last
See similar books…
D. Michael Abrashoff served for almost twenty years in the U.S. Navy, culminating in a tour of duty as captain of the $1 billion warship USS Benfold. After leaving the navy, he wrote a bestseller about progressive leadership called It’s Your Ship. He now lectures to business audiences around the country.
“Show me an organization in which employees take ownership, and I will show you one that beats its competitors.” 7 likes
“A Gallup study found that when people leave their companies, 65 percent of them are actually leaving their managers.” 4 likes
More quotes…