walking that deck

Foreign Object Damage or FOD is simply any substance, debris or article alien to a vehicle or system which could potentially cause damage.  We all go to great lengths to protect ourselves from foreign intrusion which can cause us irreparable harm, and as well we should.  The disruption of progress can disguise itself in many forms.  What’s most important, is that we identify and protect ourselves from it.  We prepare.  We have a uniform plan to equalize any harmful effects – any unwanted outcome.
I have a buddy who while in the Navy worked on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.   He once told me that periodically the whole crew would link arms and walk every square inch of the deck –  forwards and backwards.  Scanning, searching – looking for any object large are small that may have made its way undetected onto the carrier.  While many of you are familiar with the size of an aircraft carrier, the next time you fly out of your local airport, think about packing all that runway, equipment, personnel onto a relatively small space, and then add explosives by way of armament.  I’ll remind you also that the same small space is a floating living quarters for thousands of America’s finest.  Pretty impressive.  That kind of logistical efficiency also brings with it some very high stakes.  Yet it always struck me as odd that arguably one of the most important of tasks, was handled rather rudimentary  – simple, but highly effective.  Get out there with your own eyes and see for yourself.  Put on your coat and walk that deck.  FOD
 So, in this case, should a foreign object go undetected and further ingested into the turbine intake of a multi-million dollar aircraft at the very instance it is being catapulted of the deck of a billion dollar aircraft carrier at full throttle and loaded to the gills with fuel and arms – complete chaos and cataclysmic failure could result.  Not to mention the potential for loss of life.  As I suggested, the stakes are very high.  Therefore, systematically checking for foreign objects that can cause mayhem is mandatory and requires an extraordinary amount of discipline.  Another great example of how taking care of the little things promote the bigger things into falling in place.
And if you think about it – the faster the speed of the aircraft, the more catastrophic the mayhem.  This is not so different then how we manage and lead right here at home.  First, always be on the look out for FOD.  It can come in many forms and all of them are disruptive.  The faster we go and the more we are trying to consume in our day, the higher the likelihood the mayhem will be great should we fail to detect those foreign objects.  Second, when it comes to looking for FOD, make it a team effort and get all hands on deck  – quite literally.  You have already surrounded yourself with a team you trust – now test them regularly.  When they are successful – notice, affirm and give thanks.  It’s that simple.  Lastly, have an action plan for dealing with mayhem.  Remember that no matter what we do or what precautions we take, there will always be failures in the system.  Have a plan that all are rehearsed on and standing by the ready to implement should things go wrong.  In the end and no matter what, it takes a sharp eye to recognize mayhem in the making and strong leadership to know that we must learn from our failures – any degree of failure.  Failure is not always fatal, but failure to change eventually will be.

2 Responses to “walking that deck”

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