I have written in the past about strategy and planning. An organization thinks through its strategy, writes a plan and then usually jumps into implementation. That sounds right – but is it? Strategies are expensive to develop, challenging to plan and usually very time consuming and expensive to implement. And, I think we can all agree that lots of large initiatives get started on time, start to drift, get more complicated and confused over time and then become endlessly long and complicated to deliver, if in fact they ever get delivered at all. Since that’s often the case, we recommend one or two suggestions prior to full implementation.
Suggestion #1: Walk-through
Before General Eisenhower sent the troops to the Continent by plane and ship, we can be fairly certain that multiple, detailed walk-throughs of the D-Day plan took place. And if you read your history, you will learn that in almost every walk-through, at least one person spoke up and identified a risk, challenge, constructive criticism or idea for improvement that caused the attendees to rethink the plan and improve it.
One of my favorite real-world examples, is Alan Shepard’s story. For those of you unfamiliar with his name, he was the first American to fly in space. Everyone knows how much effort the United States government and NASA exerted for the space program in the 1960s in order for us to be able to walk on the moon in 1969. NASA went to great lengths to simulate every aspect of the outer space experience, here on Earth, to ensure our readiness. Space suits were tested under water to make sure they were airtight. Test rockets were sent up by the dozen to ensure safety and success. Alan Shepard’s entry and exit of his Mercury space capsule were practiced repeatedly. As a matter of fact, about the only thing that wasn’t rehearsed was having him sit in his space capsule for the same amount of time that he would need to sit in it, when sent into space – why bother? He would just be sitting there anyway, right?
When the actual launch occurred, Alan Shepard was in orbit for a few minutes when he needed to urinate. No one had considered that possibility, since he was never in his spacesuit long enough on the ground, to have had the need before. Our First Man in Space, had to pee in his suit and sent the temperature inside the suit to over 100 degrees. I am sure the Russians had a good laugh about it – NASA was embarrassed. How did this happen? NASA had never done a full walk-through of what the actual process would be like, for the actual duration. They learned their lesson in time for their next launch.
I will speak more about an effective Walk-Through process in an upcoming post.
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