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Have you considered what the basis for your decision process really is?

By Andrew Pollack on 04/26/2007 at 11:41 AM EDT

Since being promoted to Lieutenant in my local fire department, I've had the added joy of being part of a monthly officer's meeting in which policies, procedures, ideas, and plans are discussed. We don't so much make policy -- that ultimately sits at the Chief's desk -- as we have a good deal of input to it and a healthy debate of the issues involved. As a result of this, some very clear ideas come forward as the basis for decisions.

Three of these tenets have really come home to me lately, and I wanted to share them here. Its my blog, so I get to do that. You can stop reading if you like. These three basic underpinnings make for the basis on which to build a great organization, business, and life.

1. When someone calls, we come.

That seems obvious, but consider that "someone" may not be a homeowner in town. It could be another town calling for resources, another department looking for lifting assistance, sometimes even something like a railroad looking for some cooling water to add to one of their engines that happens to rumbling through town. We don't always have a "mutual aid" pact with the town that's calling us. I've been as far as 30 miles and several town borders away. We don't always have a billing arrangement in place for routine assistance. In the case of mutual aid, it may not be the case that we provide aid at the same frequency that we get it from others. It doesn't matter. When someone calls us for help, we find a way to help. That is the basis for decision making. It changes the discussion from one of "if" to one of "how".

2. We plan for absolutely anything -- including things we haven't planned for.

I think this is what I love most about firefighting. If you can imagine something happening, you can bet we've talked about it and at least have a rough idea of the issues we're going to need to deal with. You get a group of firefighters together and there is almost no logistical, mechanical, or safety problem they will not quickly find a solution for. It may not always be elegant, but when they're done the situation will be resolved. Captain Stewart said it best last night. He said "If a giant pail of {feces} falls from the sky and lands in the middle of the street, someone is going to call the fire department to deal with it." That's about as accurate a summation as I can imagine. In business -- especially in consulting -- its the same way. People grow to depend on you being there to solve problems. If you do the job well, it doesn't really matter what the problem is. If you're someone your customers can call to get things fixed, they will call you.

3. Match the risk with the reward.

Firefighters operate on the premise that "We will risk a lot, to save a lot." It means more than you might think. To save a human life, we gladly risk our own. To save a pet we will take reasonable risks, and to save properties we will take smaller, managed risks. That has to be in your mind when you decide if making an interior fire attack is warranted, or going into a river after a stranded motorist is appropriate. Again, business and life in general can be looked at the same way. If you aren't willing to take some risks, you may not be able to achieve big things -- but taking risks when they're not necessary isn't brave, it's just foolish.

I've pontificated about as long as I should on this, feel free to comment.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Have you considered what the basis for your decision process really is?By Bob Balaban on 04/26/2007 at 08:57 PM EDT
Sounds about right to me


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