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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday After Action

For me, Saturday is often a great time to conduct a personal after action review from the previous week.  Like many in the US, my weeks most often resemble combat operations, and I am routinely engaged in pushing aggressively forward on multiple fronts and responsible for managing disparate priorities from competing groups of stakeholders on large scale projects. 

It is near impossible to move forward in any organization, effectively and aggressively without sustaining setbacks and failures on a regular basis.  Most often our failures are not large single events, but rather a collection of smaller cumulative micro failures that can chip away at our motivation and effectiveness with such a low signature that it's almost hard to recognize.

Saturday mornings are usually a good time to grab a cup of coffee and reflect on the collection of victories and failures I racked up during M-F combat.  I always think back to the many AAR's and post op debriefs I've sat thru.  Most people would be surprised to sit thru an actual AAR conducted by an elite unit or team.  Even on major operations involving complex planning and coordination, most de-brief points highlighting failures usually fall into one of the following categories:
  • perception
  • discipline
  • communication
  • technical difficulty
Perception- It's hard to remember a mission that either myself or anyone I know has ever been on where the actual conditions on the ground did not differ in some way from what was expected during planning.  Great teams and individuals train hard and are expected to adapt.  If you are in a Corporate Combat Unit, keep in mind that perception is one of the most difficult things to manage or understand among people who are normally not cohesive and trained to a common standard.

Discipline-  This one is easy.  At some point on every mission, one of us could have done something better.  Sometimes we get lucky and no one saw our minor mistake, and we dodged Mr. Murphy, but this is one I see often among many civilian organizations.  High degrees of discipline do occur, but are often by chance or due to a few rock stars who hold the line.  Corporations can and should train staff to be disciplined and aligned around solid core principles and time tested processes.

Communication- Think about all of the communication engagements that you will be a part of M-F in any organization.  The total number is staggering.  When they don't go well, they take a toll on both parties.  Often times two people on a team or in a corporate setting will quietly harbor small doses of anger and resentment for hours or days after an unpleasant communication engagement with a co worker or boss.  Failures of communication are the main reason for many of the real set backs and near misses in modern combat operations and among Special Operations.  Communication skills have to be constantly trained on and refined, de-briefed to the smallest detail.  You have to communicate well, period.

Technical difficulties-  "Comms went down", is probably one of the most recycled phrases in military de-briefs.  It's just a fact of life, and probably won't change until SOCOM, or TRADOC buys APPLE or Samsung and puts them in charge.  Fortunately most of us in Corporate Combat units get thru our work days without experiencing technical difficulties that completely derail our operations.  But when they do occur, realize that you must fall back on solid, basic and simple techniques to communicate and keep your team moving forward. 

These are just a few easy points to consider for your Saturday morning de-brief.  To learn more check out:  ADVENTURE OPERATIONS GROUP

Also, to hear David Rutherford talk about how to turn failure into success, check out this weekends Froglogic Radio Show at:  Froglogic Failure to Success

Have a great Saturday!
B-Rad and the AOG team.

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