Every Company Needs A Combat Information Centre (Now More Than Ever!)
Here is the next in a series of articles I have been writing to highlight the things that I learned in my 10 years in the US Navy, and how these can help us all weather the storm we are all facing in today’s business arena.
One of the things I thought was fascinating when I was working on an aircraft carrier, was the Combat Information Centre (CIC). Most of us have a picture in our minds of the Admiral up in the bridge with a pair of binoculars fighting the battles but in reality, they are normally in the CIC. Why? Besides the fact that it is always nice and dark and very cold in there, all the information that they will need to make a decision is located there and is updated continuously.
Now I am sure that some of us are sick of hearing about the 'war' we are in with COVID and the analogy can be a bit trite, but certainly the complexity of the situation and ambiguity around future outcomes is very similar to wartime. The other important similarity is the speed of decision-making now required to avoid threats and leverage opportunities - often with incomplete information.
I would suggest that companies need to quickly build themselves a place where the latest market information is collated, as well as a live view of the assets that they have to work with. With these two key inputs in one place, leadership teams have the best chance to spot impending threats and deploy their assets in the most efficient way.
There are many tools available to help with this that don't involve dark cold rooms such as Balance Business Scorecards, real-time project management tools like Notion/Asana/Monday.com, or even simple collaboration platforms like Slack or Teams.
The struggle today is to get EVERYONE on the same system. When I started as CEO of Inogesis the first thing I said to everyone was, "I do not want ANY internal emails, everything goes into our Slack platform!". After some initial pushback, everyone realised that was much easier to see everything operations-based located in one place. A nice by-product is that if an email comes into my inbox, I know that it relates to a customer or a supplier not a call to have a 'ZOOM beer' with the team :)
Larger firms will definitely struggle a bit more with this approach due to scale, but leadership teams need to start defining exactly what type of market data they need, frequency of updates, and how they want to be updated on the status of areas of the business. Even with these key areas being fed to them in the way they want it, decision making will improve.
If you ever get a chance to visit a CIC on a ship, do jump at the chance as it is an incredible place. If you don't, you can just watch earlier episodes of Star Trek and look at the roles of all the people around Capt. Kirk (OK showing my age:)! All joking aside, anything you can do to get the info that you need to make decisions at pace in one place will help.