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When you are fighting shoulder to shoulder with the greatest men and women imaginable, it is not hard to feel the weight of your decisions as a leader; or the immediate understanding of what you have to lose ‘if you are careless in your work’. 

As a US Army second lieutenant (this is a story from last century, insert joke about age here), I remember many times enjoying all that Savannah, GA had to offer. One weekend, I stumbled upon the window of an antique store where a specific item caught my eye. As Savannah was, and still is, home of Hunter Army Airfield (also with origins from last century) there was quite a bit of World War I and II aviation artifacts on which to look. However, there was one specific item that drew me in and remains with me in my home today (over twenty years later).

The story behind this World War I poster implies its intent was for the desired audience to have a firm understanding  that lives were at stake as a result of their work. As I read the statement for the first time, the impassioned plea with respect to integrity, work ethic, and expertise rang just as loud to me some 80 years later. Never was this sentiment more engrained into me than my very next military formation when I observed once again (seemingly with new eyes) the human beings that had been placed within my charge.

But my question is this: How can the association of decisions and actions ever be separated from the value of human life?  How can that association possibly change when leaders ‘leave the front lines’ and are no longer ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with those that they serve?

What has to be true, what context must we be in, for we as leaders and senior decision makers to be able to detach ourselves from decisions we make when lives still hang in the balance? At what point does a human life get reduced to a number? A caricature of its true self? A commodity? A splotch of color on a map?

Wherever that ‘place’ is, I do not want to be there. As a commander, I do not want to have members of my team or leaders within my organization that do not have the forethought to value human life. The resounding repercussions of that mindset are beyond what I believe I can bear.

As a team member, I do not want my higher headquarters nor my chain of command to not understand that their decisions have a direct and significant impact on those that they are supposed to serve. The repercussions of that type of environment I, and many others, are guaranteed not to be able to bear.

But what if that ‘place’ where leaders ‘forget’ that high stakes decisions nearly always have lives in the balance was not due to malicious intent? What if it is due to the fact that in their day to day they see countless more cells of data, budget line items, or ‘pretty dots / colors’ on a map then they do the hearts and souls that those ‘dots/colors’ truly represent. 

What if they just need to be (gently) reminded of the value of human life?

This is why I am here!  This is my calling! If I can contribute one thing to humanity it would be that every technology enabled framework used for decision making is specifically designed to account (ALWAYS!) for the human(s) it supports.

Why?!?! Because I want that framework to be an ever-present reminder for commanders, leaders, and decision makers of the value of those human lives carrying out their decisions. As well as the ‘possible consequences if they are careless in their work’!

We are Michael Rainey and Associates. We design mission command systems that (1) reveal operational context with which leaders have been blind, (2) reduce the uncertainties associated with combative environments, and (3) receive better ideas throughout all echelons of your organization.

Tell us the problem you are trying to solve!

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