Specialization Kills (or How the Navy Found Airplanes First)

He wrote “The Naval War of 1812” and, at 23 years of age, became the leading expert on ships and navies. Fifteen years later, as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he’d push for battleships and encourage a readiness posture in the U.S. Navy not seen in decades.

But specialization kills and he knew it. So when Sam Langley launched the first “aerodromes” over the Potomac River, the expert in ships saw the future.

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy immediately wrote Navy Secretary John Long to create a board for study of these machines for use in war.

Years later, the former Assistant Secretary, and now President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, would smile as the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk and the first airplanes were delivered to the U.S. military.

As experts of our individual crafts, we must also see opportunity in other fields and in other tools, just as this expert in ships saw vast potential in airplanes.


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