Commentary – Back to basics?

My co-author Roamy is a big fan of Mike Mullane, so I’m sure she’ll be intrigued to see this reference to him.

Basically, this article (written by an officer) is all about adherence to standards. In the services, standards are set by officers. But it is the Non Commissioned Officer who is charged with ensuring that troops meet the standards. The blurb below shows the seduction of cutting corners….

Mike Mullane, a NASA astronaut, talks about a phenomenon called “normalization of deviance.” This is when we cut corners with no resulting negative outcome and the result becomes the norm. Over time, we fail to see our actions as substandard. It might have started when someone decided external pressures, such as short manning or high operations tempo, justified cutting corners, then they taught their replacements or new Airmen “how we do it here,” and it became an acceptable, yet incorrect, way to perform that task at that base.

via Commentary – Back to basics?.

A classic example, outside the world of the Military, was the fatal crash of American Flight 191 in Chicago. Local maintainers developed a shortcut for changing engines, but in doing so, set the stage for a horrific accident.

3 thoughts on “Commentary – Back to basics?”

  1. A truism of leadership I’ve heard for years is, “every time you walk by something that is wrong and don’t correct it, you set a new standard.” Very true words; after all, who has time to do ALL the checks and services on the HMMWV after you just finished an 8 hour mission in 120 degree heat? Why check the radio today, when it worked yesterday? Why do all 17 steps to boresight my tank when the gunner knows a shortcut? Human nature can rationalize anything, even when we know it is wrong.
    The only time I ever didn’t test fire my coax machine gun on a tank range (because we had just fired it and it was hitting dead-center) was also the only time I ever discovered that my gunner hadn’t loaded it before the next engagement. Hmm, those basics are a killer.

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