Recommended Reading

A few interesting blogs that came across my laptop this month.

Safety Culture. Pam McDonald – Wildland Fire Leadership: Exposing Our Roots

  • Firefighter Awareness Study
  • Phase I -Identifying the Organizational Culture, Leadership, Human Factors, and Other Issues Impacting Firefighter Safety
  • Phase II – Wildland Firefighter Safety Awareness Study – Setting New Goals for the Organizational Culture, Leadership, Human Factors, and Other Areas Impacting Firefighter Safety
  • Phase III – Implementing Cultural Changes for Safety
  • Phase IV- Developing a Cooperative Approach
  • Lessons Learned Videos – 10 Year Anniversary

Decision-Making. Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership – The One Habit of Every Effective Leader

This is a guest post from Jeff Gions that begins with a great quote from Dave Ramsey:

“I make a decision, and if it’s the wrong one, I make another one.”

Adapting to a Situation. Law Enforcement & Security Consulting – Mental Toughness And …. The Power to Adapt

Living and working in our complex world often requires that we quickly adapt to a person or situation. There are many thoughts and questions that will create frictions (obstacles or breakdowns) that delay decision making. What tactics can we use to overcome them?

Decision making is closely tied to awareness and adaptability, and both are needed to build a safe and effective organizational culture.  More decision making explorations to come at my Firefighter-360 column.

Current Explorations: November 2011

Thomas Lorimer, 1941, Lewis & Clark, An Evening Reading

My current explorations trying to make sense of our challenging world.

Reading ….

My ongoing fascination with our choice-making behaviors (how and why we do what we do) and the role that time plays in our choosing has lead me to an interesting book: TEMPO: Timing, Tactics and Strategy in Narrative-Driven Decision-Making, by Venkatesh Rao. On the fire ground (a complex and dangerous environment), tempo (time) is an unknown and uncontrollable element, like the weather, that influences our decisions and drives their outcomes. More to come when I finish the book.

Research ….

Rapid Intervention

I joined a team of firefighters researching Rapid Intervention Procedures and Equipment for emergency operations, asking the question: “Are we ready?” Everyday firefighters (and many other professions too) combat dangerous situations putting themselves in harm’s way. Everything, from buildings to automobiles, to machinery to people is getting more complicated. And while personal protective equipment, training and education is getting better, firefighters will always be at risk for the unexpected event such as a natural or man-made disaster, mechanical failure, or human error. Rapid Intervention is that process used by firefighters to facilitate rescues when an emergency occurs. Our team’s goal is to raise the awareness of unexpected events and increase the level of readiness and response when they do happen. I’m currently reviewing reports and projects from the National Fire Academy. Much more to come as this will be a long-term adventure.

Impressions and Lessons from Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virgina

I recently spent a day exploring George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia. I toured his home, walked his gardens, and visited his tomb where I had the rare opportunity to read his Prayer For His Country. Some assorted impressions and lessons from my visit.

After visiting Washington’s home, and seeing first-hand where and how he lived and what he thought was important, I’ve come to the conclusion that character was his single most important quality as a leader. Washington decided early in his life that his social behavior, his ethics and integrity, were essential for everyday life. His character, I believe, is what carried him through a life of leadership that continues to encourage us today.

As always, I found a good book to read. The Unexpected George Washington: His Private Life, by Harlow Giles Unger, provides personal insights into Washington’s life as a private man and as a leader that I had never read in other materials.

Of Related Interest:

Solid Debriefings: What did we do?

My July 2011 column at Fire Rescue Magazine on FirefighterNation:

How & Why to Conduct an Incident Debriefing

Done right, incident debriefings capture vital information for how we can improve our performance

By Billy Schmidt
Published Friday, July 22, 2011

My last several Firefighting-360 columns have focused on communications. The last part of an effective fireground communication cycle is the mission/task debrief. Debriefs are an essential part of learning, improving and identifying how human factors affect our actions at every incident.

Firefighters were born to talk, and that’s how they should conduct a debriefing: listening and talking to each other in an open and frank manner. The discussion is conducted as soon as possible after the event, sometimes right there on the apparatus tailboard before the team leaves the scene. This is where they can learn about their strengths and weaknesses, and create a clear vision of their future needs. Debriefing an incident or training event can also generate valuable lessons learned that can be institutionalized into future operations.

Read the rest of the column here.

More of Billy Schmidt’s Firefighting-360 Column at FirefighterNation

Start Before You're Ready!

Nike was right, we should “just do it!” Resistance is a huge roadblock in the path of our progress. It prevents us from bringing ideas to life or sometimes just plain having fun. Steven Pressfield knows this and that’s what his recently released book, Do the Work, is all about. The book begins with this, “On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.”

I downloaded a Kindle version of the book and read it fast, just as Seth Godin suggested in the Forward (Godin also talks on his blog about how ‘shipping,’ delivering work on a deadline, is key to success). Then I purchased it on iTunes and listened to SP read his own words; even better.

Go here to read more from Pressfield about staying stupid, trusting the soup, and starting before you’re ready.