Book Review: Mission Accomplished by Virender Kapoor

Book Name: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Applying Military Principles to Real Life

Author: Virender Kapoor

Genre: Non-fiction

Publisher: Rupa

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Blurb: There is a lot one can learn from military ethos and practices. Written around 500 BCE, The Art of War by Sun Tzu not only serves as a guide to modern military strategy, but has also been adapted by top leadership across the board. In fact, almost all modern management principles are a derivative of military operational strategies, which have withstood the test of time in different cultures, geographies and circumstances. Practised over hundreds of years, these were tried and tested under the most trying circumstances during military operations where millions perished.
Mission Accomplished examines strategies that define a military process to accomplish a task in an operational scenario.

Picture Credit: Rupa
Picture Credit: Rupa

Review: Mission Accomplished is an interesting piece of work. The author breaks down several military techniques and explains how they could be used in real life or corporate situations. The opening chapter deals with improvisation and explains through many examples, the use of ingenuity or the Indian system of Jugaad to solve tricky problems.

“Such rubber band bombs were also put in enemy vehicle petrol tanks. Once the rubber band corroded due to the chemical action of fuel, the grenade exploded”.

He delves into great details right from the Second World War to IEDs and explains how often unsolvable situations can be turned around. Various improvisation techniques in Medical and engineering fields are also discussed.

Each chapter discusses a technique or facet of human nature and through examples, the topic is explained further.

No organisation even with unlimited resources at its disposal can deliver if the morale of the team is weak. Lack of leadership is often counted as one of the factors behind seemingly large corporate giants. There have been cases where bankrupt organisations have been turned around while corporate giants have failed to deliver. All of this boils down to whether the management routinely engages in team-building exercises. This handy little book explains how this could be achieved.

“The first 1,000 days of a new business are very tough and one has to fight against all odds to survive. This is like a battlefield scenario, where the leader has to show courage and grace under pressure.”

It is never an easy task to recycle military techniques and explain them easily to a corporate clientele but Virender Kapoor does it wonderfully well. He keeps it simple, draws references right from the Art of War (Sun Tzu) but also provides contemporary examples to mix it up a little.

The chapter on Economy of Effort and Concentration of Force is written very well. A tough topic to explain but nevertheless an important issue.

“Advertising and marketing are the two best contenders for using concentration of force as their basic principle. Unless you do aggressive marketing and aggressive advertising with a full force at your command, the results will always be dismal”.

A potential downside of this book is that some of the chapters are interlinked and sound repetitive such as the propaganda part is discussed again and again.

It is always difficult to explain military techniques to a civilian population but this book does it remarkably well. I have read such type of books before and they always fall short on expectations but Mission Accomplished is different and there is a lot to learn from this comprehensive guide.

The book also touches upon resource mobilisation and almost every aspect of management has been described in detail. Running a business in current scenario requires an element of military precision and discipline always helps. This is where Mission Accomplished comes in. If you have attended many seminars but could never understand because of lack of time or boring speeches, then Mission Accomplished could help you because this could teach you how to implement what you have learnt. Examples always help and the author has an easy, narrative style that doesn’t rely on military jargon.

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