One of the earliest lessons I learnt as a navigator was the ‘next event technique’, probably one of the most important prioritisation skills I ever developed both professionally and personally. Adopting this technique gave me the capacity to keep the crew and me on course, on time and land safely.
I often talk about the importance of capacity and how as leaders this is the primary resource to create. Without capacity there is no time or space or energy or emotion to think, network, reflect, plan…you get my drift.
Being an aviator means submitting to a life of checklists – this is good, as it makes sure everything is done correctly. It’s a well regarded notion that once aircrew, especially junior aircrew, especially student junior aircrew put a helmet on their head and strap an aircraft to their bum then their ability to think is reduced by 50%.
Why – because it’s exciting and frightening and different and there are pressures: pressure of assessment, pressure to perform and pressure not to crash the aircraft!
What is it?
The next event technique applies specifically to navigating a route and it goes something like this: en route there will be a plan to follow with a series of turning points. As a turning point is approached there are a series of checks to confirm and brief the pilot on: the new heading, airspeed and time (duration) of the next leg.
The pilot can then manoeuvre the turn and the new heading, airspeed and time to the next event will be confirmed…and this latter point is the next event technique i.e. what is the next thing that will happen.
This discipline is important because as operational aircrew there are things to consider…where’s the enemy, where’s the ground i.e. lookout of the cockpit. As the complexity of missions and aircraft increases there is more to do, such as mission management and multiple communications channels to monitor.
There is also the state of the crew (and passengers) to consider. Without the discipline of knowing the next event it is all too easy to get distracted with these other, very pressing, very needy issues and…fly into the ground. Being exquisitely clear with the team on the next event is imperative for the smooth running of the mission.
And yes, this can extend beyond the mission into life on the ground…such as ‘the next event will be to meet in the bar at 1900hrs!’
Application for you
How does this relate to you as a leader? In the busy-ness of life with chokka full diaries, back to back meetings and everything being important and urgent – do you know what you’re priorities are? Do you know what the next event is on your mission?
Perhaps most importantly, do the people around you, maybe your team, know what the next event is? Without this focus we can all too easily get distracted, side-tracked and led astray; and we compromise our capacity to do the things that leaders need to do.
If you need support in understanding your mission, articulating priorities and adopting a technique to create capacity then get in touch.