The link below will take you to an amazing story about a submarine crew doing something pretty amazing. Having sailed in a few typhoons myself, I can assure you that being anywhere near the surface in a boat is not desirable.
The link below will take you to an amazing story about a submarine crew doing something pretty amazing. Having sailed in a few typhoons myself, I can assure you that being anywhere near the surface in a boat is not desirable.
A recurring question most boat sailors hear most has to do with what it’s like to live on a submarine.
If you think about it, purposely going underwater for months at a time isn’t exactly what you learn about in schools when it comes to life.
The Navy has an interesting link up right now called “Life on a sub”
“Rest assured, it’s not all work and no play aboard a Navy Sub. There is some downtime that can be beneficial to team building and personal rejuvenation. And it’s important to take advantage of it when you can. Here’s how a typical day breaks down:
From watching movies to playing games, socializing to exercising, your time away from work can be as exciting or relaxing as you want it to be.”
I read yesterday that there is now a new task force to speed up the process of putting women on subs. I wish them luck. From my few years experience on one of the first integrated surface ships, I saw a lot of interesting things. Apparently it works well on many ships now so it was only a matter of time.
“Now where exactly will the Waves quarters be Admiral?”
As for this old boy, I am just glad not to have to deal with the additional pressure of being under the ocean’s surface for three months a few feet away from someone who I am not supposed to develop any feelings for (or worse). Because we all know that twenty year old boys and girls never ever ever fall in love (lust).
I am very grateful for my company’s generosity with it’s funds.
Thanks Dyno Nobel and IPL. A lot of people’s lives are a little better because you cared.
Modern electronic devices, the speed at which most people live their lives, and cultural challenges in a shrinking global economy provide daily examples of the problems we increasingly face in effectively communicating with each other.
Studying the problem has been a large part of my work for years. Whether it was on a submarine, a ship or in a shop, communications are at the heart of most conflict and loss of efficiency. Since we are all taught basic communications skills from the time we are young children, why does this end up being such a problem?
When we simplify the way we approach communication and look at the basics behind it, we can improve our won understanding and help others. There are three parts:
Without effective communication, they become someone else’s dinner. In many of our own personal situations, that is probably also true but not so much on as grand of a scale. The duck instinctively or by training knows how the communication cycle works. They hear a certain type of call and intuitively know how to respond. Whether it’s a meal call, a come back call, a danger call or a mating call, the duck doesn’t need to do much interpretation. It responds to the appropriate signal (most times with a call of its own – feedback)
Through a much more aggressive adaptation and evolution, we have added many parts to the puzzle. the following is an example of how communication occurs in an uncluttered world:
Source: Duck 1 thinks it is time for feeding
Encoding: Duck 1 issues the appropriate call and the message is shared in a way that Duck 2 should hear it
Decoding: Duck 2 recognizes the call and adds value to it (Food Time). A response is sent as feedback (“Okay, I’ll be right there”) and the sending duck knows that communication is complete.
If for some reason Duck 1 does not get a response, chances are it will continue to signal until it is satisfied all efforts to communicate are complete.
The things it has learned, what it instinctively knows as a duck, experiences that have happened and the environment all make up how the duck knows to send and receive messages. Assuming the receiving duck has a similar field of experience, they probably communicate with ease and little frustration. Life isn’t always that simple though as illustrated in the following diagram:
These screens are unintentional in most cases but result from the various experiences and interpretations of the sender and the receiver. They can change the scope or purpose of the message and result in miscommunication and confusion. As stated earlier, this can be fatal to a duck so simplification is always the rule of thumb.
The first two pictures assume that the ducks are communicating on a lovely sunny day with only the sounds of a babbling brook quietly playing in the background. If only life were so simple. More often than not, it actually looks like this:
The noise comes in many forms. Other ducks using the same airspace to communicate, other birds and animals, noise pollution of all kinds including people, planes, cars, highways, factory noise and on and on. Internal noise from conflict, prejudices, biases, emotions, lack of trust, lack of training, fear of failure, fear of success and on and on. Even with the duck’s close held need for survival, they are bombarded with all of the same environmental issues that people are. Ducks just seem to have a more focused ability to screen the noise out.
Eliminate as much of the clutter as you can and keep your communications simple. Anticipate that there may be perceptional screens and noise that will hinder your communications.
Practice active listening. Listen more than you talk. Provide feedback but not every few seconds. Keep the conversation focused. Make sure your delivery speed is appropriate to the message, vary your tone and volume. Remember that there is a difference between hearing and listening.
You own the responsibility for effective communications and have to assume it will take some work even with the best of circumstances. Check for understanding and offer clarification. Don’t ignore others concerns or signs of confusion. Body language becomes like another set of “ears” to review how well the message is understood. It can also be true that in sending, your own body language is key to presenting your message.
Our survival is linked to the way we communicate. You have a choice to make when it comes to something even this simple. Hopefully seeing this illustrated in a way that the ducks would approve can help you improve your own skills. Now let’s get quacking!
The Royal Order of the Duck had its beginnings in the late 1900’s in a hospital near Detroit Michigan. Several locals found a wounded duck and helped to nurse him back to health. As the duck continued his travels, he found others who were similarly afflicted and he started to try and share the lessons he had learned along the way.
As of today, there are only four people who are officially listed as members of the Royal Order of the Duck (the list is purposely kept secret). The stories shared here are meant to spread the message of hope and remind people that sometimes you have to act like a duck and let the world’s stuff just roll off your back.
In about two hours, I will be leading the first of three training sessions for part of a group of 3800 students in Hershey PA. We are going to focus on communications and leadership. The title:
Needless to say, even thought I served on five submarines and two large surface commands facing the rugged ocean and the forces of the Soviet Union, I am a bit humbled and slightly intimidated going in front of a group of young students. If you never hear from me again, please send a note to my widow.
Purpose of the Future Business Leaders of America:
FBLA-PBL provides innovative leadership development programs to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship. Participation in FBLA-PBL can have a direct impact on the direction and success of a young person’s career. Millions of students have learned through active membership in FBLA-PBL about the world of business and what is expected of them in the workplace. Organizational goals include:
Well, time to go offer an animal sacrifice. Have a great week and do something good for someone. They may not appreciate it, but you will be honoring someone that did something along the way that helped you.
My business web site went live today!
I will still continue to add stories and commentary to the Lean Submariner but the website bobmacpherson-speaker.info is my way to satisfy my passion for business process improvement, training services, and speaking.
Check it out if you get the chance. In the next few days, I will be talking about how ship’s are named…
Looking back over the last forty years, my thoughts of what a good submariner looks like have become much clearer. I have not been on a boat for over twenty years but there are some things that still stand out even through the haze of the years. I should tell you that I greatly admire many people who have served in different services. For instance, I can barely even imagine jumping out of a plane with a hundred pounds of stuff tied to my legs. It might just be me, but it would seem that all that junk just might make a landing a bit more complicated.
Don’t get me wrong, many bubbleheads I know are the best stretchers of the truth when it comes to women, past personal achievements and liberty ports. But when it comes to the operation and integrity of the boat, they all suddenly become a cross between George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in regards to truth. It is a sincere bond that is drilled into us from our earliest training. When I open the main vents fore and aft from the Ballast Control Panel, I have to be absolutely certain that all of the checks have been done and all of the repairs have been completed in accordance with the procedure.
Every set of eyes and ears are important at all times on a submarine. Whether submerged or surfaced, the submarine is a million different opportunities for something to go wrong. You always have to remember that the builders had to come up with just the right design in order for the boat to succeed in its mission. We have had many different styles of boats built in the 112 year history of American submarines, hopefully with a succession of improvements during that time. New technologies have been developed and added but they have not always been successful. The ability for the average submariner to step out and let the bosses know is a hallmark tradition.
When an alarm goes off, he must immediately make decisions on his next actions whether he was fast asleep or elbow deep in a pump repair in a remote part of the boat. You immediately have to think about where you are and where you are supposed to be. It may be dark or smoke engaged. How will you find the connection for the life sustaining EAB (emergency air breathing) that you only have seconds to put on. What equipment will you need? How big is the casualty? Is anyone injured? Every second counts. Whether it’s a drill on not, most of us treated the alarm as a real one. It was just the right thing to do. Its no wonder that years after they left the boat, many guys have dreams (or worse) that often wake them up.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not talking about the patience that disappears in the chow line on holiday meals or steak night. Keeping calm as you transit into home port (or what substitutes for that) also does not fall into that kind of patience. Channel fever is one very real indicator of an extreme lack of this precious commodity.
No, the patience I am speaking of is a cultural patience that is needed when the mission is hot. Tracking a “bad guy” for multiple weeks requires absolute patience and absolute discipline. One wrong move, one unsteady hand, one unplanned activity could spell the difference between success and failure. I can imagine the same was true of my forefathers on the World War 2 patrols as they stalked an enemy. A submariner has to have it within him to be able to handle a living stress that few others can imagine.
The story of the USS Swordfish (SS-193) is an example of that type of courage. She was credited with the first wartime submarine kill not long after Pearl Harbor.
Her entire history is filled with incidences that would challenge the courage of any person alive. During her tenure, she conducted 13 war patrols resulting in eight battle stars. Her special missions took her into the heart of the Japanese empire and she participated in many of the major events of the Pacific war.
Her last mission took her to Okinawa where she was supposed to conduct reconnaissance. It is presumed that action resulted in her loss on January 12th 1945. To her credit, she served during the most desperate days of the war and went to hell and back on each patrol. These men had to have known that every patrol was a risk to their safety and their lives. Yet they went. Along with all of their brothers. Their sacrifices freed millions of people from tyranny and oppression. We can never repay them enough.
The heart and soul of a submariner is their ability to suspend their disbelief for just the right amount of time to complete the mission. They absolutely have to believe that their boat was built well enough, the crew was trained to the right level, and the sea will not be powerful enough to overcome both. I guess in a way, it’s the ultimate form of faith that comes from those willing to give their all for an idea: Freedom. Eighty-nine men were lost with the veteran submarine.
Seven years ago, an event happened on the USS San Francisco that serves as a reminder that even in this day of modern technology and science, the ocean is still mightier in its capability to test man’s limitations. On January 8th 2005 at 0243 GMY, she collided with a sea mount resulting in massive damage to the bow section, 23 were wounded as a result of the collision and the tragic death of MM2/SS Joseph Allen Ashley of Akron Ohio occured the next day as a result of his wounds.
Within a very short time of the collision, the emails of previous San Francisco lit up with passed along messages. Speculation was the name of the game which seems to ghoulishly follow all tragedies at sea. The first thought was an underwater collision with another boat but a closer examination revealed that the damage to the sonar dome and the forward ballast tanks was consistent with a much bigger collision: a seamount that was not on the charts available to the San Francisco.
I spent four years on the San Francisco and as a new construction team member, I crawled through every tank and ever void on the boat. As a plank owner, I remember the thrills (and scares) of putting the boat through her paces for Admiral Rickover. I will never forget the added pressure that he instilled in the crew as we did the irregular maneuvers to prove the boat’s sea-worthiness. But we hit every mark and sailed her to Hawaii for her first serious set of tours.
When I heard about the crash, my mind went back to the days of sailing at a high speed transit from one place or another. You can feel the rush of the water down the sides of the hull, every turn results in a feeling of pulling in one direction or another as the boat reacts, and the feel of the boat reacting to the churn of the prop is very noticeable. Crawling into your rack, you push the obvious into the back of your head (if you think of it at all). What if something gets in the way? I am not a great physics scholar but I believe that in my life I have been a great believer in the big physics laws. An object in motion… an object at rest…
For all the patrols and special operations I made on various boats, I consider myself to be incredibly lucky. A few typhoons and one hurricane gave us some real scares (stories for another time), but generally, we made the runs with very few issues. I had confidence on the builders of the boat (having watched them and sometimes helping them). I had great confidence in our Officers and Nav guys. Some of them were a little quirky but then they probably thought the same about A-gangers too. But we always operated the boat with the confidence that comes from being as ready as possible.
Having said that, I can only imagine the terror of lying in your rack and suddenly, with no warning, feeling the boat come hard upon a large sea mount. You can’t see anything, all you can hear is the noise from the collision, feel the uncontrolled stopping motion and the out of control nature of such a hit. I apologize to the crew members that were on board that day because my description only comes from a mixture of memories of operating the boat and an imagination that can’t correctly describe what you felt.
I will not post the gruesome pictures that are plastered all over the internet. As I said, having built the boat, I can feel myself hand over handing the ballast tank and thinking that it was incredibly strong. I know we had to do some hull cuts at one point and I can remember clearly what it took for us to cut through the skin of the shark. I can also remember the fact that the precious air need to conduct an emergency blow is partially contained in those same ballast tanks. I have ridden the boat a number of times from the depths on the cushion of that air and remembered how thankful to know that it was there.
All of us had heard stories about the Thresher and her death ride. The thought of losing that air for any reason was one of my greatest nightmares. Every time I did a rig for sea, this was one of my most stringent tasks. No errors allowed and hand check everything that could be hand checked. If I close my eyes, I can still see the gages on the BCP hoping that 4500 PSI would be enough.
The fact that the crew was able to hold it together long enough to get her back to the surface and then back to port is the greatest example of submarine training I can possibly think of. I remain proud of all submariners for their day to day bravery. This crew demonstrated that what may have seem improbable was indeed possible. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve with any of you guys on any boat anytime.
I am taking a break from the cares of the world today and having a little lean and continuous improvement fun. The old TV show Different Strokes is pretty appropriate for a day like today. It was fiction of course, but you get a 1%er taking on the responsibility to raise a couple of kids from the 99%. Oh the fun and frolicking as they try to fit into each other’s worlds. Of course, this was in the carefree world before pants on the ground, hip hop sound, and designer drugs (at least not that we knew of…)
The show centered around all of the antics of the cast. One of my favorite episodes had a huge social message. As a reporter for the school newspaper, Arnold learns that drugs are being sold on school grounds. This attracts the concern of First Lady Nancy Reagan, who comes to the school to talk about her anti-drug campaign.
Sadly, the lessons didn’t last very long for the actual crew members. I wonder if Mr. Drummond would have taken the risks he did if he had conducted a SWOT analysis?
One of the best exercises in planning I can think of is the exercise called a SWOT Analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats). If properly done, this exercise can help a team put together a plan than gives them a greater chance at success or can identify that they have enough obstacles in play that might delay their progress.
There are probably just as many ways to do a SWOT as there are consultants (meaning a lot) but over the past few years I have experimented with a few that seem to have a good rhythm. My favorite is a combination of different tools that lead to an actionable plan. There is nothing better than taking a concept and seeing it turn into something that adds value to the group you are working with as well as the end customer.
The concept is always first. It can come from anywhere but in order for it to grow into action, a careful examination of the risks and benefits is probably a great first step. Like many of you, I have run into concept people all through my professional careers. They have these brilliant streams of energy in a new idea but after a short bit you realize they have absolutely no clue on how to actually do it. In many cases, these people have another name: The Boss. It may be possible to whack some young engineer upside his or her head and send them dejectedly back to their cubicle carrying their goofy idea. But when the person who writes your evaluation and decides your next merit raise has one of theses ideas, you are a bit more reluctant to turn them off.
(Note: I was kidding about the young engineer part… any great company will cherish innovation and reward the fresh young minds that dare to step outside of the comfort zone. If they truly are inspired, they will end up being your boss at some point anyway so keep that in the back of your mind as well before you go smacking them around.)
After you get enough bullet points for each area, prioritize the ideas. I normally use post it note voting. Each person is given an opportunity to rank the bullets for each of the four areas. Using 1 –2 –3 (high to low) the team then continues until a consensus is reached on the most important points. For the plus sides (Strengths, Opportunities) put the sheets aside for the time being. For the Weaknesses and Threats, spend a bit more time fleshing out what you have. Once a true consensus is reached for the top three in each area, put up a fresh sheet for each idea.
Now the team will begin to build countermeasures for each major item. Using a SMART approach (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound) set up plan of actions to mitigate the threat and strengthen the weak areas. Make sure that specific includes the name of the person who will ultimately be called to task for the result.
Great communication is needed from the moment the tasks are assigned until the goals are met. You may require some additional meetings but let the group make the commitment for timing and frequency. In the end, celebrate the wins and learn from the perceived losses. Keep a lessons learned log and document the entire process. I normally use Power Point since it can double as the presentation you will probably end up making to the stakeholders.
Last thought: If at all possible, have some fun while doing the activity. If the whole thing is perceived as nothing more than a time killing activity with no excitement, that will be reflected in your outcomes too.
One of the worst things I can imagine a service member doing is being guilty of dereliction of duty. We all take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. When we are derelict in our duties, there are military laws which judge us and rightly so. People depend on us to defend them and protect them from forces beyond their ability to defend themselves.
Friday afternoon, the Democratic leadership in the Senate refused to pass a continuing resolution that would not only fund the government’s operations but will cut off additional funds to FEMA by early next week. Harry Reid and his fellow Democratic Senators left after a hasty news conference to catch a plane for South Carolina (Taxpayer funded of course).