26 August 2012

OPS Risk: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest...

Accountability and ownership are two vital elements of any operational risk professionals mindset if they are to accomplish real results.  In order to gain this mindset as a professional, you have to be able to work along side others, who have these engrained into their character and DNA.

What are you accountable for in your team or organization?  You are accountable for the stewardship of your particular mission at this point in time with a clear vision of the results that are envisioned.  You are not accountable to anyone but yourself and the team you have assembled for this particular set of tasks and outcomes.  The Operational Risks that you will encounter and those that you decide to mitigate or avoid are entirely up to you and your team, long before you set out to accomplish the mission.

Do you have ownership of the results desired?  You must have ownership of the operational risks that may and will occur if you and your team are to survive whatever known and unknown challenges may come your way.  Who are some of the best of the best in the profession of Operational Risk Management over the past few decades?  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are just two:

Of course, it was less than a year later that Armstrong himself would make the biggest step. After a three day trip to the moon, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins entered lunar orbit on July 19. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin began their descent towards the surface inside Eagle, the lunar landing module. The flight to the surface did not quite go as planned. During the descent several alarms from the flight guidance computer distracted the astronauts. The onboard computers were inundated with extraneous radar information, but the alarms were determined not to be a problem. 
But Armstrong also noticed he and Aldrin were flying faster than expected across the lunar surface and were likely going to overshoot their landing site. As the Eagle passed 1,500 feet above the surface, Armstrong saw they were heading for a crater. He thought this might be a good option as it would have “more scientific value to be close to a large crater.” But the steep slope and big rocks did not provide a safe place to land. 
As they continued to fly over areas covered with large rocks and boulders, Armstrong took over control of the Eagle and continued flying it manually. He was able to use his training from the LLTV to maneuver as they continued to descend to the surface. But all of the maneuvering was using up propellant. At 200 feet above the surface, Armstrong finally was able to find a place to land. 
Aldrin: Eleven [feet per second] forward. Coming down nicely. Two hundred feet, four and a half down.
Armstrong: Gonna be right over that crater.
Aldrin: Five and a half down.
Armstrong: I got a good spot.
Aldrin: One hundred and sixty feet, six and a half down. Five and a half down, nine forward. You’re looking good. 
As they passed 75 feet mission control in Houston determined the Eagle only had 60 seconds of fuel left. Armstrong says he wasn’t terribly concerned about the low fuel situation, “typically in the LLTV it wasn’t unusual to land with 15 seconds left of fuel.”
About 40 seconds later Armstrong made a final few maneuvers before announcing the landing was complete. 
Armstrong: Shutdown.
Aldrin: Okay. Engine stop.
Houston: We copy you down, Eagle.
Armstrong: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

Think about your team.  Is the boss dictating from the top on your every move or are they side-by-side with equal accountability and ownership of the results of the mission.  NASA puts rock star top gun pilots behind the controls of lunar missions for a good reason.  It is because they know that they are not in control, ultimately the pilots are working together.

So if you find that in your next corporate or organizational project that the boss from afar is telling you what to do at every moment, it's time to eject.  A true Operational Risk professional understands the mission and the desired results.  They have accountability and ownership of the tasks necessary to achieve the results.  Their stewardship of the project, with their fellow team members will be able to adapt to any changing environment or sudden challenges.

If you are the boss that has responsibility for the team and the successful outcome of the mission, what have you done to enhance each of their skills, knowledge and experience to deal with operational risks?    You may be asking at this point "How" do I do this?  This isn't about giving you suggestions or to show you where it is working and how to do it.  This is about service before self interest and your ability to think of yourself as an equal on the team.  Just one more vital asset with the same sense of accountability and ownership for the overall mission.  That's it.

Your team needs you as one more set of brains, hands and talents to solve the operational risks that will be on their way.  How you behave and perform in light of these new found challenges, may very well be the one thing that determines whether your team lives or survives.
To serve.  To be safe.  To know what freedom feels like.
Author, Peter Block - Stewardship - Choosing Service Over Self-Interest
Neil Armstrong was a true Operational Risk Professional...God speed.

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