The Burden of Command - It's Raining
Earl Breon 0:10
Hello, everyone, your host, Earl Breon. Here. You know, sometimes the burden of command is about simply making your team aware. The highlight how powerful this is, I'm going to share a story I heard when I heard a gentleman named Gordon Graham speaking of Gordon Graham, has a very interesting past, he was a California Highway Patrol officer, turned lawyer. And now he travels the country speaking to first responders about risk management. Now, Gordon, during this discussion on risk management, he shares a story towards the end, that he didn't really name but I've started just simply referring to it as it's raining. And he tells a story, he's still with the California Highway Patrol at this time. And he just got promoted into essentially his first real management role, he was a shift start. And part of his duties as shift Sergeant was to look out for all of the highway patrol vehicles in his area. Now, the area that he was in was, you know, relatively considered desert, didn't get a lot of rain. And if you've ever lived in that type of terrain, you'll know that when an especially a highly traveled road, doesn't get rain on it frequently, there's a lot of dirt and grime and oils and things that build up. And then when it does get rain, all that gets dislodged. And it can actually make for a fairly slick road for the first, you know, for the first, you know, maybe couple inches of rain or so until that layer of filth and gets kind of washed off and rubbed off. And then you actually have just clean road surface for the tires to make contact with. When Gordon knew this from his time as the highway patrol officer out investigating wrecks and stuff. And what he knew was after a rain Not only did civilian car accidents, motorcycle accidents, whatnot go up. But so did the highway patrol numbers. And so sure enough, it's his first shift is his shift sergeant. And it's a downpour. So he wants to do something because he knows what's about to happen. He knows that they're going to have a spike in calls to respond to incidents. But he also knows that they're going to have a spike in officer involved accidents, and he wants to try to avoid it. So he comes up with this brilliant idea to tell them that it's raining. So he goes down to the dispatcher and he tells the dispatcher he's okay. I want you to send out an all cars message and tell everybody it's raining. He said she looks at him like he's an idiot. But she keys up the mic and says, you know, all cars all cars disorder, Graham would like you to know that it's raining. radio silence. That didn't sit well with him. Because the silence to him meant nothing like that. Did they hear it? Did they acknowledge it? And it was unsettling. And so for a few minutes, he was trying to formulate a new plan. So then he goes back and he asked the same dispatcher. I need you to send me out another all cars message. He goes this time she's really looking at me like the last one damn mine said but I want you to send out an all cars message. And I want you to ask them to respond if it's raining in their area. And so she keeps up the mic. Cars all cars said it was dripping with sarcasm and not wanting to send such a dumb message. But all cars all cars discharge, Graham wants you to now call in and respond if it's raining in your area. So one by one the cars respond. You know, this is car 37. Yes, it's raining. This is car such and such got drops on the windshield. This is car 39. Thank you that Sergeant Graham I had no idea what that was hitting my windshield. But he got acknowledgement. He knew that. But the simple act of them responding and acknowledging that it was raining in their area that they were now actually aware of its existence. And so he went off you a little happier with everything, he was still worried about what could happen as far as, as far as incidents goes during the rainstorm.
But at the end of his shift, when he was going over the data, he noticed there were no cars on his shift involved in accidents. And so he was just curious what was going to happen on the next shift. So he can see in the next day, and he looks back to the previous days data. And the shift before him and had a couple of accidents, the shift after him and had three or four accidents. But his shift was the only shift during the day that had zero accidents. So it's like okay, well, maybe we stumbled on something. So the next time he was on shift, and it was raining, he did the same thing. Now this time, the dispatcher was kind of the dispatcher was kind of grumbling with him, you know, like, why are you wasting my time, of course, everybody knows it's raining, what is your problem, you're letting the power go to your head. But he looked at the data. And again, his was the only shift that didn't have any accidents, at least no accidents that could be directly attributed to the rain. And so the next time the rain sit in, it happened. Well, I guess on the third time, the way he tells the story, one of his superiors got wind of what was going on and heard the radio call and comes down and asked him why he's wasting officers time responding to such a ridiculous call. And then he whips out the data. And he shows him said, Look, I've done this twice. So my third time, so far, I've had no extra accidents attributed to rain. And they kind of brushed it off as being kind of coincidental. It's a small sample size. He said, Well, if you're going to tell me not to, I'm going to do it every time it rains. And we'll just see how the data stacks I'm sure enough over several events. He had no cars lost to rain, while other shifts did not the point of the story is very simply, everybody knew that it was raining. But nobody was really aware that it was raining. Being aware of something and knowing something or two totally different things. People know a lot of things in their life, but they're not necessarily aware of what's going on. You know, we know that he burns. But if we're not aware, and we put our hand on something hot, we're still going to get burned. So same thing with your teams. We know things like diversity in all forms, not just a racial, gender thing. But diversity in all forms, diversity of thought, diversity of backgrounds, diversity of points of view, diversity in Yes, age, sex, race, religion, all of those things. We know for a fact that those things make organizations more successful. Study after study has proven the more diverse an organization is period, the more successful they are, period. But we're not aware sometimes, the lack of diversity in an organization.
People know that good leadership means that you're going to have happier, healthier, more productive team members. We know this, but we're not often aware of how our leadership affects those on our team. People know a lot of things. But sometimes, quite often, it's the leader that helps remind them and make them aware of what they already know. And get them to actively Think about it. That is the more successful leader. You know, there's a lot of things that go on on a daily basis. Some of it, we just ride in kind of the our natural, Primal, instinctive reaction mode. And when we do that, and that's where we spend the majority of our time and our brains is that primal, instinctive part of the brain, we're relying on the things that we know. And it's our analytical side that brings in what we're aware of. And so don't be afraid to say something that sounds dumb to get people thinking and becoming more aware, so that they can activate that analytical thinking side of their brain. You know, there's a great book that goes very deep in depth on this called Thinking Fast and Slow. by Daniel Kahneman, he actually won a Nobel Prize for the work associated with that book. And he's a behavioral economist. And he talks very much about that. That Thinking Fast is that primal brain that drives just on instinct that causes us to make all sorts of decisions during the day based on what we know that but what happens to our decision making process when we start activating that analytical side, when we start becoming aware of our surroundings. So the moral of the story is, make your team aware, whether its leadership, whether its diversity and inclusion, whether it is simply just thinking on the next level of a project, you know, because that's another pitfall of teams when you are doing something that you do a lot. It becomes repetitive, redundant, and you fall into by default, that that fast thinking mode, because it's repetitive, it's something you know, when you know what happens when there's a small defect that creeps in and the machines not working correctly, or, or various other things. But because you're activating on what you know, you're never becoming aware of what might be able to be better or might need to be changed. So again, the story of iterating is about making your team aware that is a bird responsibility, you have a responsibility to not just educate your team and help them know, but to activate their thinking and make them aware. So again, my name is Earl Breon. I'm the host of the burden of command podcast here if you have any comments, questions or concerns, if you have a story that you'd like me to share, if you have a guest, you'd like me to interview for the interview. podcast episodes, hit me up at burden dot firstname.lastname@example.org that's burden dot email@example.com. With that, keep those shields up and I look forward to talking with you again in the next episode.
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