The United States officially entered World War II on December 8, 1941.  The war in the Pacific formally ended on September 2, 1945.

A recent documentary on one of the history channels chronicled the path the United States took from a nation with an underdeveloped military to global dominance over this period.  What struck this author was the technological distance covered.  Not just marshaling the military and civilian workforce, but how heavy industry, including maritime (ships), aircraft, and weapons advanced so quickly.

Some might say that this period was unique in human history with a strong focus on the survival of the nation.  No doubt this line of thinking persisted at the time, but perhaps something else was driving this behavior.

Crisis Management is appropriate when nations, industrial sectors, organizations and even individuals are in times of stress.  By some accounts, the managerial prowess of this period stems from the knowledge of industrial manufacturing and logistical processes. 

While the ‘War Agencies of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government’ played important roles in this wartime effort, it was not this alone that caused a juggernaut to appear.  The size of the United States, “prewar technological industrial base” and “large population” were also contributing factors.[i]

Large scale hostilities brings a spotlight that is not normally held during peace time.  The fight or flight instincts of all humans help bring focus in times of trial.  However, organization and management are important for societal success for either option.

Attaining and sustaining Critical Mass in those Critical Success Factors (CSFs) were key to enabling the rapid ascent to industrial might.  Has anything changed?

Parallels to Today

A recent article, The Oils Shock That Never Was, reflected on the advancements the upstream oil and gas sector made during the recent downturn.  The piece makes the case that while most prognosticators predicted so-called doom and gloom often associated with downturns, the opposite seems to have happened, particularly in the shale space. [ii]

In a previous blog, we put forth the rationale that Operational Excellence is the key to strong financial performance.[iii]  The Oil Shock article documents the transformation of the overall industry Cost Structure.  Operators are also focusing on sectors where profits are possible at current commodity price points.

Moreover, firms are capitalizing on existing infrastructures that are supported by new technologies.  This sounds familiar to the behaviors of economic actors almost eighty years ago!

However, challenges remain for service sector providers.  Could these firms utilize World War II business models employed by shipbuilders in the 1940s?

Does Your Organization have Critical Mass for its CSFs?

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