Healthy Competition LO18164 -Naval Aviation

Richard Karash (
Fri, 22 May 1998 13:36:55 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO18158 --

On Thu, 21 May 1998 wrote:

> You mentioned another factor that I think is important here: the absolute
> dependence of the fliers on each other. The structure of that little
> society is such that each pilot expects to be rated on a regular basis,
> and to treat his colleagues' ratings in a supportive, professional manner.
> (Actually, that last assertion could use some testing -- how do pilots get
> treated when they have a spell of bad landings? I'd guess it would be
> with something like tough love.)

Don, I think you are right on the mark... when the system works right, the
interaction about the ratings has positive, supportive elements.

My friend went on to say, "You have to be careful when someone has a
string of bad landings how to talk to them. You say the wrong thing and
there is *sure* to be a fist-fight!" I think this means that the
interactions are usually healthy, but not always.

After talking at length with my friend, I'm convinced that part of the
healthy system is in the relationship between the pilots. There is
comraderie, mutual respect, understanding, and compassion. But, they all
know that a pilot must perform well to keep flying in the squadron.

There are a couple of instances of this in Stephen Coonts' excellent
novels about Naval Aviation (Flight of the Intruder, etc.)... In one
scene, the hero Jake Grafton is taken off flight status when vision
problems lead to poor night carrier landings.

I just hope that commerical pilots, bus drivers, etc., have the same
degree of oversight on their performance. I think this is one of the
points that Rol is getting at (performance is necessary; people who can't
perform have to go). And, it's a partial answer to Ben's concern (if you
don't, then the strong performers will have to carry the weaker).

So... connecting this back to everyday organizations... In Naval Aviation,
(1) not everyone can do it, (2) there are real differences individual to
individual, (3) these differences can be observed with available
resources, and the (4) performance is critical. Those who can't or don't
perform have to go. As I think about everyday organizations, these
conditions sometimes apply (for example, maybe in sales).

What about Deming who says, "Most all problems are due to the system!"
I think the system has it's impact, but what's different in the case of
carrier pilots are the four points above.

-- Rick

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