• Rob

Two Heads Are Better Than One

(as long as you work as team!)

There are lots of debates amongst aviators about which is better in a dogfight - a single seater aeroplane or a two-seater. In terms of what I do today, I now ask ‘Why is this question relevant to today's business situation?’


First, the debate amongst pilots. Single seater folks will always argue that they don't need to waste time explaining what they are thinking to someone else. They see a situation, evaluate the options and execute what they think is the right move, no delay. This argument certainly has merit and I would argue that in a fairly simple situation (i.e. 1-2 planes in a dogfight) these words can hold true.


This issue is that normally the world is not that straightforward. A 'normal' dogfight or engagement will have many players in it. There are also all kinds of weapons being deployed from many miles away, until the planes end up in a traditional dogfight that so many of us are used to seeing in the movies. There is another angle for Navy aviators, and that is after all the 'fun stuff' you still need to get back to the ship and land on it. This may bring up potential problems, like 'Where has the ship moved while I have been out here?' and 'Do I have enough fuel to get back?' etc.


Since I flew in a two-seat fighter, I am probably biased towards having an extra set of eyes, ears and brains out there with me. Crews that work well as a team can, in effect, have two people 'fighting the dogfight'. The trick is to have the pilot fly the plane (obviously) and fight the targets in front while the RIO or back seater is able essentially give a running commentary on any activity to the sides or behind the plane (pretty important!). A good RIO is able to give you very specific commands such as "Break right in 3 seconds" as an enemy is approaching. These extra 3 seconds can buy you a valuable advantage and allow you to also concentrate on the planes ahead.


Now these are interesting stories from what seems a long time ago for me, but if we think of today's complex and ever-changing landscape, let's see how we can apply the principles. Executive teams, are I am sure, feeling exhausted trying to manage the company in an extremely tough business climate whilst also try to keep track of all the government programmes, new regulations and monitor potential opportunities.


If we use the two heads analogy, wouldn't it be great if we ensure that are executive team members are looking in different directions but with the same overall objective in mind? Why don't some of us keep the business alive, others make sure that we are looking for opportunities and give sharp advice on how to take advantage of these, and lastly, others try to avoid any major regulations/rules shifts that might knock us out!


Working as a team is certainly not a new concept, but today's 'game' is not the normal playing field we have been used to. We need to improve the way we work as a team and focus our eyes in the right direction, ensuring that we know when one of our colleagues spots a threat or opportunity, that we get the message back so the right action can be taken.

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