At Least It’s Not A Blue On Blue

Twitter told me yesterday that someone at 123-reg deleted a part of the internet.

My immediate thought was:

“Owch, that’s got to hurt”

And then:

“I’m glad I’m not that boss right now”

A few minutes later, my thoughts had turned and instead I was thinking:

“Well, at least it’s not a blue on blue”.

Let me explain.

I’m currently reading Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink. This is on the strong recommendation of one of my fellow 30DWCers (thanks Charles).

Jocko is an ex Navy Seal commander who looks the part, acts the part and is the part. He’s a badass, no doubt.

His book teaches leadership principles learnt on the battlefield in Iraq and applies them to the business world.

It is a compelling read.

One of the threads running through the book is that as a leader you’re responsible for screw-ups that happen on your watch.

If you manage people and they mess up, maybe you’ve not trained them well enough. If they don’t deliver then you have not communicated the plan effectively. Or, you’ve not ensured that they have the resources needed to carry out the task.

It uses a smattering of anecdotes throughout to push each point across.

One such anecdote defines the term ‘Fog of war’ well. It paints the picture of a squad of Seals going missing in an urban environment. How their colleagues in another squad call in support after engaging in a heavy fire-fight with the enemy. Even with that support it’s not going well, so they call in air support.

Things are about to get messy.

As the commander of these units Jocko is nearby, he goes to investigate. He calls a pause on further hostilities as something didn’t feel right.

They reconnoitre the building where ‘the bad guys’ are holding out.

Turns out the bad guys are good guys.

It’s their missing Seals.

They’d been shooting at each other.

A blue on blue scenario.

Oops.

One friendly Iraqi soldier is dead, more injured. Not good.

Seals don’t shoot at Seals. It’s just doesn’t happen.

Someone is going to be toast for this.

You can read a longer account here, but the upshot is that Jocko took the blame on his (enormous) shoulders. Even though there was a chain of mistakes by various personnel that all contributed to the end result. He was in command; it was his fault.

It is an excellent anecdote with excellent prose. The scene is tense and the point gets hammered home.

But for me there was a different take away.

In comparison, most day to day management problems pale into insignificance

Granted, deleting a lot of servers is a pretty horrid thing to be responsible for.

Some people’s businesses are in tatters.

Lots of people are going to be cross.

But nobody died.

Nobody is likely to die because of it.

In the scheme of things, it’s not that bad.

I shall remind myself of this every time something potentially bad happens from now on.

It could have been worse.

A lot worse.

At least it wasn’t a blue on blue.

Word count: 519.

Time taken: about 90 minutes

This post is one of 30 I wrote daily during April 2016 as part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge.