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How to move closer to flawless execution...

If you work in a highly functional team (or if you are really fortunate, a true 'high performance team'), you will know the power of documenting your processes.

In a fighter squadron, every task that is repeated is written down and updated when needed. For example:

  • How to fly 4-ship close formation

  • How to conduct an intercept against various threats

  • How to rendezvous with an air to air refuelling tanker at night

What is less common but equally powerful is to write down your OWN processes.

What do you do in your professional life which is repeated over and over? If you documented the process for this task and then amended it after each performance, could you move closer to flawless execution?

An example for me is preparing for simulator sessions. As any pilot will tell you, simulator ‘training’ is one of the least desirable items to have on your roster. Although these sessions are often called ‘training’ events, somehow they still manage to invoke the same emotions as an initial driving licence test!

I noticed that part of the anxiety associated with simulator sessions was the preparation; if I felt I had prepared well, I would feel considerably less anxious. So, I decided to write down my ‘process’ for preparing for a sim.

The first draft was what I expected would work well, and after each session I refined and amended it as appropriate. I now have a comprehensive guide to prepare for simulator sessions which I know works for me.

As a result of this, although I’d much rather have a long layover in Paris than my 6 monthly instrument rating check, I find I feel far more in control and have elevated confidence when the simulator session approaches.

A very abbreviated version of my 8 hour preparation process is as follows:

The day prior to the sim, carry out 2 hours of preliminary preparation:

  • Download the simulator profile

  • Update my Electronic Flight Bag (iPad)

  • Review recent operational notices

  • Review memory items and limitations

  • Review emergency communications and task sharing

  • Learn the required’ knowledge’ for the session (specific technical knowledge, port information etc)

12-18 hours prior to the sim, carry out two separate blocks of three hours preparation:

  • Finish learning the required’ knowledge’

  • Begin mental rehearsal of:

    • All departure and arrival briefings

    • All expected emergency procedures

    • Problem solving model for expected emergencies.

I concentrate most on rehearsal. During my 30 year flying career, I’ve found there is NOTHING more effective than accurate visualisation for preparing for any event.

If you have individual tasks in your professional life, maybe documenting your process for these will help you move towards flawless execution. Your task might be:

  • Preparing for a sales presentation

  • Conducting an interview

  • Chairing a planning meeting

Good luck!

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