Sir, let’s start by simply asking how you think about ownership as it applies to our naval profession.
Adm. Richardson: To me, ownership is absolutely critical to our business. No matter where you are in the Navy, no matter what your job, no matter what your seniority, we need 100 percent ownership of what we do, what we’re doing. We need to own our behaviors, we need to own our technical competence, we need to own our character.
So in my mind, ownership is composed of four different things. One is, you’ve got to have the right level of knowledge. You need to know what you’re doing, right? And this is this technical competence that we talk about in the leader development framework. If we don’t know what we’re doing, if we don’t know how to do our job, then we’re never going to know when things are going wrong, when to step in and intervene. And so there’s a really important role for just level of knowledge and knowing our business.
The second thing is that we’ve got to have responsibility for executing our jobs. You’ve got to be responsible for the mission that you’re given. You have to feel that responsibility to get that mission done. Not just to get it done, but to get it done properly and get it done consistently with the standards of the job and the standards of the Navy. So you’ve got to feel that responsibility.
Know that we have accountability for that mission. So in addition to feeling responsible, you have to know that we’ll all be held accountable for achieving that mission. Whatever that may be. It might be just a specific task, it might be to execute something much bigger, but at the end of the day we will be held accountable for executing and delivering what we needed to deliver.
And then finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must be given the authority to do what we need to do. It’s very frustrating for someone to be given a task and told hey, you’re going to be held accountable for that and you’re responsible for that, but you’re not given the authority to go and do it. Right? So they have to come back and ask permission or something.
This requires a careful discussion between a senior commander and a subordinate commander or the boss and the person given the job so that there’s a good understanding of exactly what is required. And then we can competently delegate, and delegate the authority to be able to execute that mission consistent with responsibility, consistent with accountability and relying on, you know, full technical knowledge of what needs to be done.
So that’s how I see ownership. It’s got four ingredients: technical knowledge, it’s got responsibility, it’s got accountability, and finally it has authority. If you don’t have all four of those things it’s impossible to fully own what we do.
Moderator: Sir, in talking about ownership, I know this is a concept that applies to every Sailor, whether they be an admiral or a seaman, but how would you explain that to encourage Sailors at any and every level in the Navy chain of command to take the concept of ownership on board?
Adm. Richardson: The thing that will make us as powerful a Navy as we can possibly be is not saying hey, you own it. This is something that belongs to you. But internalizing that we all have ownership. This is the difference between a globally powerful, a superior Navy and just, you know, any other Navy.
So to the degree that each one of us takes ownership and executes our mission, we become as a Navy much more powerful.
Imagine, if you will, if every Sailor came to work every day wanting to own and tackle their job. You combine this with some of the fast learning things. Hey, I want to improve the way I do my business every single day because I truly own this thing and I’m going to get better at it every single day. Imagine what our Navy could achieve if every one of our sailors and civilians came in with that attitude. Every single day on every single job.
Moderator: Well, Sir, how do you see the way forward for getting us to that point and instilling ownership in all our Sailors?
Adm. Richardson: That’s why we have these discussions. A lot of this has to come from inside. We can only go so far with an extrinsic or an outside motivating structure of reward and punishment or whatever. To truly achieve our theoretical limits of performance, it’s got to come from within each one of us. We have to identify and dedicate ourselves, push ourselves not to achieve the bare minimum, but to go well past that bare minimum and really try and maximize our performance.
No rule set is going to stimulate that. It’s got to come from within each one of us. And so I’d ask that everybody on the Navy team think about that motivation. Do you feel that fire in your belly to come in and do everything you can to own your job and do it better today than you’ve ever done it before? If not, why not? That’s a conversation that you can have with your leadership, but a very important part of that is the conversation we all need to have with ourselves.
Moderator: This has been Soundings, the official podcast of the CNO.
Both Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson posted the below statements on their Facebook pages.
Statement by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and loved ones affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps team stand united against senseless acts of violence and our thoughts are with those in need today. Thank you to the first responders and medical staff, whose quick actions saved additional lives.”
Statement by Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson
“Dana and I are praying for the victims and families of the awful Las Vegas shooting. The Navy team stands with the people of Las Vegas against this heinous act of senseless violence.”
Our newest Virginia class submarine, USS Illinois (SSN 786), joined our fleet when it was commissioned Oct. 29 at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
Platforms Matter: USS Illinois is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for over 30 years without ever refueling.
Block III: SSN-786 is the third of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities. The first 10 Block I and Block II Virginia-class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS). The Block III submarines are built with two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.
“The Illinois has joined the fleet. The crew of Illinois has assumed our watch-a watch that will continue for the next 30 years-always waiting for the call, always ready.”
– Cmdr. Jesse Porter
Commanding officer, USS Illinois (SSN 786)
Our newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) joined the U.S. Navy’s fleet when it was commissioned into active service Oct. 15 in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Innovative Ship. Zumwalt, the lead ship of a class of next-generation multi-mission destroyers, features a state-of-the-art electric propulsion system, wave-piercing tumblehome hull, stealth design, and the latest warfighting technology and weaponry available. The Zumwalt-class destroyer will be capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions.
The Innovator.DDG-1000 honors an innovative leader in our Navy’s history, embodies the legacy of warfighting excellence and innovation of Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., a veteran of World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. He exemplified honor, courage and commitment during 32 years of dedicated naval service. Believing it was his job to “modernize and humanize” the Navy, Zumwalt chose to embrace change and to lead it from within.
“On behalf of the U.S. Naval Surface Force, I proudly accept ownership of the Navy’s newest ship to the fleet.”
– Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces
U.S. Navy photos by Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Laird