Have you “the leader” and your organization ever been thrust into a situation where you’ve had very limited experience? If you haven’t, you will one of these days. So, the question becomes, “How do you “the leader” rapidly gain the experience and knowledge necessary to guide your organization successfully through a new project, new product development, or in the case of the military, a new challenge on the battlefield for which there is limited precedence?” Yogi Berra would have said, “You can observe a lot by watching.” Proverbs 19 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end, you will be wise.”
In the military, rarely is there a historical situation that exactly replicates the battle you “the leader” are about to enter. You may have planned, but no plan in combat survives the first shot. There is always new ground and today much of that new ground involves big data, artificial intelligence, and combat in the cyber domain and that domain influences all the other domains of ground, sea, air, and space. It is a new world when it comes to military conflict.
In business, you “the leader” may have to strike out in a new direction just to stay competitive. Outside forces like technological challenges may drive you into an area where your organization has little experience. Of course, a major change that takes your organization outside of your core competencies must be made with great care. For a military commander, given time (most likely very compressed), you must rely on the training and expertise available within your staff or subordinate commanders. The commander’s intent and interactions with higher level staffs and commanders will help. But exercises and war gaming, when conducted creatively, will help you “the leader” gain experience to face the next battle.
In business, you “the leader” should take time to learn and gain wisdom if you are about to make a major departure from the norm of what you do best; it may be a new business venture altogether or a new product.
I had experience with a 54,000 square foot building construction project. I had absolutely no experience in this area, so I developed a network of people who could quickly provide the necessary experience. Personally, I reached out to people who were either in the building construction business or who had completed a project similar to the one upon which we were about to embark. I quickly learned about topics I would have never considered in a building project; environmental issues, contractor relationships, worker certification, worker’s compensation, fire and police department coordination, government agencies, permitting, archeological surveys, construction options, contractor options, materials, construction efficiency, construction loans, commodity prices, and contingency funding requirements. Haven’t I said before that “good judgment comes from experience, which comes from bad judgment.” These meetings and relationships helped us avoid some “bad judgment.”
There were two other things that greatly contributed to the success of the construction project. First, we found a person who had great construction experience and was willing to provide oversight of the project; an incredible blessing. Second, we formed a construction committee. While no person on the committee was knowledgeable in all areas, there was individual expertise in all the critical disciplines required for project success.
The lesson in all this is that for you “the leader” embarking upon new fields, should use every source available so you may gain the wisdom necessary for success. And haven’t I said before, the most important source is prayer. The ONE, whom I hope you have a personal relationship with, will guide you in all things and bring the right people into your life to help fill your heart with wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
If you want to know the full story and others like this, you can purchase my book, Growing and Building, Faith Prayer, and Leadership, signed copy or eBook, at Growingandbuilding.com.