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Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations: Aligning Culture and Strategy by Colleen Lief, Nancy Lane, Robert Hooijberg, Daniel Denison

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Chapter 2

Supporting the Front Line

Japanese scholar Ikujiro Nonaka first rose to fame in his home country with his analysis of the role of the U.S. Marines in the Pacific theater during World War II.1 The Marines, he argued, were amphibious warriors, who moved from the sea onto the land with a discipline that the Japanese generals had never seen before. Nonaka seized on the critical importance of those who stormed the beaches first—the “gravel crunchers” as the Marines called them. It was a dangerous job. Even when the mission was “successful,” the gravel crunchers could often end up dead, face down in the water, with tank tracks up their backs. But the tanks were on the beach! So in order to succeed, the Marines needed to make certain that ...

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