Episode: 346 |
Will Bachman:
Formal Communications:


Will Bachman

Formal Communications

Show Notes

Have you ever asked someone to do a task, and they agree, only later to find that they didn’t understand exactly what you were asking for?

In this short episode, I share how the Nuclear Navy uses formal communications to ensure that orders don’t get garbled.

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Will Bachman 00:01
Do you ever have messages get garbled in the workplace environment. For those who do, I wanted to share an example of what formal communications looks like, at least in the in the nuclear submarine force. So I was in the nuclear Navy for five years. And so this is how we would communicate an order, I’m gonna tell you a little walk you through it, we’re gonna have three characters here. So we’re gonna have the engineering officer of the watch, that’s the person that’s going to be giving the initial order, there’s going to be the electrical operator. And that’s the person who watched enter who sits in maneuvering together with the engineering officer of the watch, and is often the one that’s handling communications, sending orders out to people in the engine room. And then we’re gonna have a watch standard in engine room lower level, who is actually going to carry out this made up order. So I’m going to make up a system called the we’re going to call it just the freshwater system. And we’re going to make a makeup a particular valve, we’ll call it freshwater 16. But of course, in the Navy, we’re not going to call it 16, we’re going to call it one six, because 16 could get easily confused with 60. If you’re trying to shout when there’s a steamline rupture, so we’re going to call this valve freshwater, one, six. So let’s say the engineering officer watch wants to get this valve shot. And we would use the word shot not close because close if you’re again, if you’re shouting, good sound like open so we’re gonna stick to particular vocabulary. So here is the entire flow of communications and it’s quite a bit of words to get one valve shut. So first, the engineering officer of the watch is going to say to electrical operator electrical operator to engineering lower level shot freshwater one six, then the electrical operator is going to acknowledge that to engineering lower level shut freshwater one six electrical operator I now now the electrical operator is going to use the phone system and go boop boop, and to ring up the engine lower level who goes over and picks up the handset and then the electrical operator says engine room lower level maneuvering shut freshwater one six and the engine room lower level acknowledges that order saying engine lower level shut freshwater one six I then the electrical engine lower level now actually goes and carries out that order and shuts freshwater one six. And then it goes back and calls up maneuvering on the phone and maneuvering picks up and then he’s the picks up and the electrical operator picks up the phone says maneuvering and maneuvering electrical operator and then interim lower level is going to say maneuvering engine room lower level freshwater one six is shut and then maneuvering is going to acknowledge that report saying freshwater one six is shut eye. And then the electrical operator is going to turn to the engineering officer watch and say engineering officer watch from injured lower level freshwater one six is shot. And the engineering officer wash to complete this whole cycle will say very well logical operator or might might actually repeat it back saying freshwater one six is shut eye. And then the engine room engineering officer watch will probably turn to his plastic chart behind him or her and update the chart, update the valve chart showing that the valve is now shut. So that’s an example of maybe to the extreme. But that’s how we would pass orders back and forth. And it sounds a little bit silly. But when one valve out of place could cause flooding, or you know sink your ship, you’re going to be pretty serious about it. You probably don’t want to necessarily go to this level of set of set of repeat backs and so forth. And everyday civilian work. But it is a framework that I keep in mind when I’m you know doing consulting, thinking about you know, how’s the other person got the, you know, got the same message that I wanted to send. So you could think about using this, at least philosophically, to you know, when you give a request out or would give an order making sure the person plays it back to you in their own words. And then also doing that closing the loop portion of it of when it’s done, you know making sure that the standard expectation is that they’ll report back that it’s been complete. So that’s how we would shut a valve in the Navy. Thanks for listening to Unleashed. This is your host Will Bachman Unleashed is produced by Umbrex which connects top tier independent management consultants with one another. You can learn more about Umbrex by visiting Umbrex dot com

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