Adam Drake

Notes on The Mission, the Men, and Me

Part 1

Don’t get treed by a Chiuahua. That is, don’t make snap decisions before you have collected and processed a sufficient amount of information to decide. When it’s not possible to decide, develop the situation.

Humor your imagination.

Part 2

The mind goes through 3 phases during learning and planning. Saturate, incubate, illuminate. They occur more or less in order, but your mind continuously cycles through each phase. Incubation-induced sleep loss is common though sleep is needed in order to maintain optimal chances of illumination (page 70).

The military’s insistence on “zero-defect operations” caused massive amounts of effort to be used in order to develop plans for every possible contingency. This risk averse behavior resulted in operational and logistics requirements so enormous that no politician would be willing to stage such a large presence in any other country. Therefore, the risk aversion prohibited most operations from ever proceeding in the first place (page 76).

When in doubt, develop the situation.

The only failure is a failure to try.

Always listen to the guy on the ground.

Part 3

Imagine everyone’s potential as the guy on the ground

On video teleconference (VTC): It has the selling point that it increases situational awareness. However, this is a false sense of situational awareness as it is more accurately just more information. It is not necessarily more useful information. Consider a management dashboard that is monitored by the C-level executives in a company. This may provide more information, but without sufficient context and without deeper situational awareness, which must be gained by people in operational positions, that dashboard will encourage the executives to make more decisions and to be more committed to those decisions. By simply having more information, they think they are more equipped to make decisions when in reality they should be speaking with the operational people who are actually qualified to make such decisions. Management does not know better, regardless of how many dashboards they have (page 154).

Imagine how to seek out the guy on the ground

Part 4

It’s not reality unless it’s shared

How would large organizations such as the military organize if they didn’t know how they were supposed to be organized? (page 217)

In companies, why are salespeople not inside of the engineering teams that are building the products which they are selling? Why is it necessary to rely on multiple levels of indirection (product owners, product marketing, etc.) which only make the salespeople less informed and likely diminish their chances of success in selling the product? To properly sell a product you must believe in it and you must know it through and through. Every level of abstraction between the engineering team and the sales person or account manager actually talking to the client means the salesperson understands the product less and has less of a say in what gets built. Put sales and account managers into engineering teams, experiment with the idea of getting rid of product owners but keep a scrum master or other administrator in the team. Since it is often senior engineers that do most of the requirements analysis and also participate in stakeholder management, this could be more efficient.

The Chinese symbol for crisis is ‘danger-opportunity’, which roughly translates to ‘without the danger the cannot arise the opportunity.’” (page 266)

I was skeptical about this one, and a quick search shows that Wikipedia indicates that danger-opportunity is not necessarily correct.