September 19, 2006
The FireDrill: Practice Success to Avoid Failure
and Dancer at the
Air Force Academy Not long ago Your Business Blogger was advising a boss on a product roll out. His team had never done anything quite as large. I suggested a ‘FireDrill.’
It consists of three parts:
1) FireDrill; The plan
2) The Drill, and
3) The Fire
The Plan is a checklist, The Fire is the execution, But The Drill, the practice is the toughest. Because teams need dry runs to learn because things will always, always go wrong. Your team will gain wisdom and judgment through simulation. And learn. Today, permit me to be Your Drill Instructor. And learn how I was surprised by a pilot project.
Your (Army) Business Blogger had no business in the cockpit. My instructor was a Vietnam vet with MigKlr license plates on his truck.
He said the F-14 was a “Man’s Plane.” He sounded sexist. He explained that the old-generation hydraulics required real strength — after a couple of hours, even the manliest studs needed two hands on the stick.
No place for girls.
Or so I thought.
But I was wrong, again.
I bring the Five-kid Penta-Posse to Oceana Naval Air Station to show them how macho military men (like their father) defeated Communism.
We get invited to some F-14 training. I climb in the simulator. No photography is permitted. And a good thing, too.
The instructor guides me through the take- off and some maneuvers. The room spins. The world spins.
And nobody was shooting at me. Although lots of people were yelling at me…
Time to bring the baby home. I turn. Lots more yelling. It might have been me.
The world freezes, the screen freezes. At a funny angle. In Real Life it would have been a $38 million mistake and DNA remains of Your Business Blogger.
My instructor: “Success. You did great!”
My instructor: “The seat is dry.”
My instructor: “No puke, no p!ss.”
After my showing off, the Posse is not impressed. The Diva, age 6, female, issue-one-each slides into the (dry, thankyouverymuch) front seat sim. Confident. In control. And zooms. Flying circles around anything in the sky.
(I remember her as a little wee-one, who used to throw-up all the time. But not today, even on inverted rolls. Lord, where do the years go? Where did my baby girl go?) Practice is complete.
Perfect landing. “Just like PlayStation,” the Diva says.
I expected a few more years to pass before they passed by the Old Man. She had practiced. I didn’t.
at a static display at
The Franklin Institute.
Entirely too comfortable
in the cockpit During the Drill no one is hurt. And we all process lessons and understand our capabilities.
And learn the limitations of the team.
And the boss. And the Dad.
A FireDrill will bring out the best in your people. And your managers.
Without the crash and burn.
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Thank you (foot)notes:
Women are not permitted in land combat. Unfortunately, little girls (not much older than my Diva) are permitted to fly combat aircraft. The Air Force loses about 75 jets each year in routine accidents. The Navy budgets for the loss of two jets per carrier per deployment. The losses would be much higher, of course, absent intensive training, intensive practice.