Planning is not always the most pleasant activity, especially if you have to ‘sweat the details’. However good planning is an essential part of preparation.
Watching the news develop about the finding of Osama BL the importance of good planning became obvious. How do you find and remove the most wanted person in the world from another country without messing it up on the way? President Carter tried to release the hostages in Iran several decades ago and that was badly planned. The Osama operation was planned to perfection.
Two very special helicopters went it. One crashed, but no worries – they had a backup plan. It can hardly have been an option to capture Osama alive – where would you store him? Guantanamo? So he had to be ‘dispatched’ and his body had to be disposed of (we can hardly call it a burial) at sea. Spectacular operational planning. A little bit of a mess up on the PR side, but the Americans love it so who cares.
In business it is no different. Good planning, good backups and good contingency planning are essential. Many years ago I had to a presentation in Birmingham for a bus tracking system. The contract was for about £1.6 million if I remember correctly but more important was that it was a lead in to the next contract worth 4 times that. We were not popular in Birmingham, as it turned out for the wrong reasons, but we wanted the contract anyway.
So we set about planning our presentation. We knew it had to be perfect and that there was no room for error. We needed streaming data coming in, we had a dummy system to demonstrate and we had my presentation – the boring bit. When we arrived we were told that there was no telephone or internet in the room, even though we had been told there was, and this was all before 3G and GPRS and other fancy stuff. Fortunately, we had prepared a backup plan. We streamed the live data through one of those old fashioned Nokia telephones. No iPhones in those days.
The presentation worked to perfection. Our rather hostile audience was most impressed. In fact the main decision maker, who really did not like us, came up to me afterwards and told me it was the best presentation and system demonstration he had ever seen.
We lost the contract. The Councillors really did not want to see our name on it, but we won the £7m contract two years later and the company that won the small one went bust. So all was well in the end.
The American SEAL team planned exceptionally well. No doubt they had vast resources. Resources well in excess of those used by Osama BL to hijack four aircraft and fly two of them into the world trade centre, but that would be cynical.
Were the Americans right to kill Osama BL and to bury him at sea? Well in my humble opinion, absolutely. I am against warfare and against politically led assassination, but in this case I fear I cannot see there was any other option, except hope he would die naturally before they found him.