'Those Pesky "P" Words'

a Message from the President, Charles J. Hargrove, N2NOV

When I was in the 5th grade, the movie "Patton" was playing in the theaters that June (1970). I was about to embark onto Junior High School and my father took me out to a movie that he thought would resonate with me. It was the first time that I was at a movie that had an intermission as it was two hours and fifty two minutes long. While General George S. Patton had many memorable quotes during the Second World War, one that is probably not his stays in my brain over the years:

"Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance"

This is an interesting phrase that has been shaped, molded and reworded by various different groups and authors to get their point across that having forethought before an endeavor will aid in it's outcome. The question each leader and each individual needs to ask themselves is whether they are putting in the right efforts to think through their thoughts and actions before the challenging time comes so that they can best create the outcome desired. In listening to a video interview of NY State DHSES Commissioner Jerome Hauer, who some of us remember when he was the Director of NYC OEM before 9/11, I thought of another one of those "pesky P-word" phrases (more like a list that is patterned after the FEMA response circle).

"Prevent, Plan, Prepare, Position, Perform, Post-Analysis"

  • prevent future problems and breakdowns of equipment and procedures
  • plan your course of action if things do breakdown
  • prepare your response and resources needed (people, equipment, info)
  • position those resources where they would do the most good
  • perform to the best of your abilities and be courageous enough to adapt
  • post-analysis when all has calmed down will show things that need changing

As Commissioner Hauer said in the interview, it is better to over prepare and assume the worst. You can always dial back your response, but you can't dial it up if it is worse than you planned for.