Since I have retired and cut back to full time I realize I have less time for management and therefore I am thinking more about leadership.
Allow me to remind you leaders that this CV-19 crisis is nothing new; you’ve been here before. The continuity of your success through the Gulf War, the Dot-Com Bubble Burst, 9/11 and the Great Recession proves that you have good, if not excellent management and leadership instincts. You are a success based upon the failures you have learned from.
I want to explain how and why you are a good leader; why you don’t need to worry; why you can project to those that are depending upon you: “We got this!! This is our time to shine!” I want to help you become a conscious competent so you can have more confidence, less stress, stop double guessing yourself and teach those around you how to be effective leaders and managers. Incidentally as to how, leaders and managers follow the same process that we are going to discuss. All leaders can manage but not all managers can lead. The difference between a leader and a manager is “why”, which we will not discuss today. We will discuss the transition for management to leadership later under the heading Management To Leadership (M2L).
The optimum decision making process which you instinctively, unconsciously follow is the OODA Cycle. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. I did not invent the OODA Cycle; it was developed by someone, believe it or not, crazier than I am: John Boyd. There is a book out by his name that is an extraordinarily interesting read. A few fun facts- He is renowned for several things including being
- The greatest fighter pilot of all time.
- He wrote the curriculum for the fighter pilot Top Gun school.
- After retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel he went to work for the Pentagon on the advance jet fighter development program that ultimately let to the development of the F-15-16-22 and the F-23.
- As described in the book, he was famous for burning holes with his cigar in the ties of Generals because he could not contain his enthusiasm. He was a maverick with an extraordinary mind and a radical communication style through which he was challenged to convey his cutting edge thought.
- As a contrarian to the power structure of the Strategic Air Command, he was vilified by the Air Force establishment and ultimately forced into retirement.
- In retirement he became an intellectual recluse and ultimately published The Theory of Modern Warfare which you would know better as the “shock and awe” reported by the naive press during the Gulf War.
- The Theory of Modern Warfare is the OODA Cycle: Observe the circumstances of your battlefield, Orient yourself to the circumstances of your battlefield; Decide what you are going to do; then Act. Subsequently Observe the results of your action; and repeat the cycle; over and over.
- Although he was drummed out of the Air Force for disclosing the flaws in the antiquated think of the war industry, his picture is hanging in the Marine Corp Headquarters in Quantico Virginia. Imagine that, an Air Force pilot being honored by the Marine Corp.
You may ask what does The Theory of Modern Warfare have to do with management and leadership? Here’s the story; crazy guys like me have become aware of his logic and theory have concluded that a crisis is a crisis; a theory applied in a war against Iraq is no different (other than the horrible loss of life) than a war against an over-saturated market, changes in consumer behavior, war for talent or or the war against the Corona virus. The OODA Cycle describes the appropriate management and leadership decision making process and more to my point it describes how your instincts have worked successfully in the past.
You have recognized or more appropriately,
- Observed the shocking, previously unimaginable circumstances that the Corona virus has created; you have
- Oriented your self to the new normal of social distancing, very limited foot traffic, loans that convert to grants, falling revenue, fur-lowed employees and general fear of “what’s next?” You have,
- Decided what you need to do based upon what you know today, right now because your brain will explode if you think about what could be coming down the road. You decide what you have to do to protect your business, your family, your employees and your customers; and you have
- Acted; done what you have to do and said we will look at this again tomorrow.
Then the next day the cycle continues..
- You Observe the results of your action relative to circumstances that are rapidly changing every day.
- You re-Orient yourself to the results of your action.
- You meet with your managers and advisers to Decide what your next step should be; and then you pull the trigger,
- Act again. There’s no paralysis by analysis; you keep the going; and some would call it, shock and awe! Some of your action is new and innovated where some is corrective; but you continue the OODA Cycle.
So now you know the architecture of your instincts; the things you do naturally but don’t know how. Praise God you have these instincts. Because your OODA instincts is the difference between you and those that are crying, whining and folding under the stress. So, now you are a conscious competent; you know what you know as a crisis manager. My Challenge! Allow this revelation of understanding feed your confidence. No biggie! Been here before. Allow your consciousness support your confidence that will in turn, convey competence to your people and help them stop stressing and help them also understand, “We got this! This is an extraordinary time to expand our business family!” Take on a mission to explain to your instinctively good managers why they are good, how the OODA Cycle has been instinctively working for them and watch with pride when they have their epiphany, become conscious competent and start professing, “
We got this! Bring it on!!”.