Ulysses S. Grant on micro management

I loved the candid and at the same time generous description of Union’s general Warren problem with micro management given by Ulysses S. Grant in his “Personal Memoirs”:

Warren’s difficulty was twofold: when he received an order to do anything, it would at once occur to his mind how all the balance of the army should be engaged so as properly to co-operate with him. His ideas were generally good, but he would forget that the person giving him orders had thought of others at the time he had of him. In like manner, when he did get ready to execute an order, after giving most intelligent instructions to division commanders, he would go in with one division, holding the others in reserve until he could superintend their movements in person also, forgetting that division commanders could execute an order without his presence. His difficulty was constitutional and beyond his control. He was an officer of superior ability, quick perceptions, and personal courage to accomplish anything that could be done with a small command.

Well intentioned, with good ideas, forgetting the bigger picture, wanting to keep everything under control, uncapabale of delegating and empowering… evidently, general Warren must had been an excellent officer of a lower rank (“with a small command“) who was raised to his level of incompetence (“His difficulty was constitutional and beyond his control“) following “The Peter Principle” :-).

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