Plan B

Posted by Andrew Netschay, in Leadership, Planning, Oct 27, 2012

I just finished reading No Easy Day-The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden the military memoir of “Mark Owen”, (a pseudonymous former member of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group) and aside from being in awe of the training, conditioning and mental toughness of these Navy SEALs I’m impressed with the risk management and contingency planning applied to their mission.

The team selected for this mission were all extremely well trained warriors with years of special operations and SEAL training. Even with all this experience behind them, they underwent weeks of mission-specific training for this op. They studied satellite photos and videos and a table top model  of the compound believed to house Osama bin Laden (OBL).

Once the mission plan was developed they were shipped to a US Military base to train on an exact replica of the compound. The selected warriors were divided into two teams that would each ride a separate helicopter to assault OBL’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Each team was capable of completing the mission on their own in the event the other team’s chopper crashed. Two assault plans were also developed in the event their intelligence wasn’t accurate or circumstances on the ground dictated a change in approach was required (i.e. ‘Private Murphy’ greeted them in Abbottabad)

They trained both plans for weeks, rehearsing every tactic until it became second nature to them. They were fully prepared. Period.

As a business leader you can learn a lot from the SEALs. How much effort do you invest in contingency planning when taking on a mission-critical project for your company? Is your team prepared to execute ‘Plan B’ if the economy or market shifts?  Aside from developing contingency plans, do you support your team in training to execute the plan? Your company’s success may depend on it.