I attended a breakfast event recently featuring Matt Eversmann. That name may not mean anything to you, but you’ve certainly heard of him. He was immortalized in the film Black Hawk Down (his character was played by Josh Hartnett), which tells the heroic account of a group of elite U.S. soldiers sent into Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 as part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation. Young Rangers and veteran Delta Force soldiers fought side by side, outnumbered and surrounded, for 18 hours in the most hostile district of Mogadishu until a rescue convoy could be mounted to retrieve them.
He retired from the Army as an Infantry Company First Sergeant after 20 years of service and is now the co-executive director of The COMMIT Foundation in Baltimore which helps veterans find mentors in the workplace.
Intertwined with some amazing stories about that historical mission, he shared a valuable lesson that applies in the business world as well.
He referred to "strategic shock," describing it as those kinds of events that our organizations don't plan for or even talk about. Now most of us won’t find ourselves needing to shimmy down a rope dangling from the bottom of a helicopter, but we all know there will come a time when something equally as dramatic in our point of view will happen.
In times like these it is the values of your team, their commitment to the success of the organization and their willingness to do whatever it takes that means you can trust them to make the right decisions when things go wrong. And as First Sergeant Eversmann pointed out, it is not a matter of if something will happen it is a matter of when. And with the right people with the right values in place, you’ll survive strategic shock.