The Incredible Strategic Execution of the Thailand Cave Rescue

The Incredible Strategic Execution of the Thailand Cave Rescue

The world was recently on pins and needles, locked onto news of the incredibly heroic rescue of twelve boys and their 25-year old soccer coach from a cave in northern Thailand. The bravery and selflessness of those involved in the rescue efforts was truly awe-inspiring. Considering the incredible environmental and logistical challenges the rescuers faced and the fact that all thirteen were pulled out alive after days of being entombed, it’s impossible not to be impressed and inspired.

There are more than a few life lessons we can learn from this amazing rescue effort – persistence, compassion and the intense will of the human spirit for survival. There are also lessons we can apply to our organizations in regard to successfully executing seemingly impossible feats.

Clearly articulate the future state.

In this mission, the goal was clear – rescue the boys alive.

In thinking about your organization, it’s important to determine what success looks like long-term . Leadership likely has a relatively clear picture in their head, but has it been written down and communicated to the organization?

Organizations typically only succeed in their strategy when leaders set very specific objectives (words that describe what the future looks like) and goals (financial metrics of success). These two pieces align to create clear direction.

The plan should also outline what resources (both financial and talent) are needed to succeed. What products and services are needed to win in the marketplace and what are the guardrails for activity? Ask yourself if you’re ready to build the capabilities needed to deliver your strategy expectations.

Don’t fall short here by doing the work but failing to put it on paper – and sharing it. Remember the saying that ‘done is better than perfect’. Documenting and communicating the plan will bring a renewed sense of focus and energy from the organization.

Prioritize.

Priorities become much clearer in life-and-death situations. This should be how you approach prioritization in your organization. What HAS to be done to move the needle? If it’s not making a difference, don’t do it.

Be careful not to take on more than your organization can handle. If resources are limited, it’s more critical to prioritize strategies and focus on the work that makes the biggest impact. A good strategy communicates what we are going to do and what we are not going to do.

We recommend five decision criteria – return on investment, ease of completion, value to the customer, competitive leverage and payback period. Using this data, schedule the work in a logical sequence.

When resources are limited, a prioritized OGSM is critical to drive focus.

Act on it.

After several attempts , many were unsure whether they would be able to actually locate the team. And when they did, initial estimates were that rescue could take months. It was the swift action and perseverance from all those involved that lead to the heroic rescue.

One of the biggest challenges we see in strategic planning is the ability to execute. A plan that isn’t executed is not worth the paper it’s written on.

Develop a management routine and make sure the team has visibility to the plan and its progress. This takes discipline to stay focused and keep the plan front and center. Whether you use something like ArchPoint’s myOGSM cloud-based strategy software or another approach to support your work, you can ensure action items are moving forward in accordance with due dates and that success metrics are being hit.

Monitor the workload of team members by looking for over-utilized players and bottlenecks. Consider outsourcing additional resources to maintain the discipline in the execution phase and the change management often needed for the shift to take.

The challenges are discipline. It’s a framework to install. If you don’t have an interest in framing it and maintaining it every month, it will not work. If you don’t have the discipline to use the scorecard, it loses its effectiveness. -- Executive VP, Industrial Services Company

Bring in external resources.

The Thai government didn’t do this alone. It is reported that more than 90 of the world’s best special forces soldiers along with seven civilian specialists were recruited for what has become the most challenging underground rescue in history.

Be able to recognize your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, utilizing them for what they do well and knowing when to find permanent or temporary support to deliver your organization’s goals.  Don’t get caught up in sunk costs, how you’ve always done it, politics or egos. Push past the internal presumptions to get to an honest view of your organization’s capabilities.

Many times, it’s helpful to gain external perspective in building the plan to help the team think differently. Our approach is an outside-in assessment that delivers both external data (on customers, the market and suppliers) as well as internal data (on capabilities, processes and people ) to identify gaps in performance. This helps uncover the right strategic choices for the business.

When creating your plan remember that you can’t expect different results if you are continue doing to same things you’ve done in the past.

Pivot.

Although you and your organization have worked hard to build your strategic plan, it’s important to realize it’s a living, breathing plan. The plan shouldn’t be printed in stone.

As long as you keep your strategic vision and financial goals in mind, you can shift and adjust tactics and action plans when things aren’t working or external factors wreak havoc.

As with the cave rescue, environmental conditions were the biggest obstacle. In your organization, keep a pulse on the external factors of market dynamics, competitors and your customers constantly evaluating a go/no-go scenario. Successful organizations act quickly and efficiently in response to internal and external barriers.

We recommend revisiting your plan every six months. This should be a formal review by leadership of what’s working, what’s not working and what changes in the marketplace affect strategic decisions – to push harder or pull back where needed.

ArchPoint is the leader in OGSM methodology and developed myOGSM, the only OGSM-based strategy execution software. Our focus is helping clients successfully develop and execute their strategic plans through OGSM. Learn how more about myOGSM.