Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Use Your Peripheral Brain

Today was a Command Urinalysis. Usually, that's not a problem, just an inconvenience. However, my name was on the list, I had requested this morning off due to another appointment, and the instructions on the Command Urinalysis list stated that a memo attesting to the individual's unavailability for this random urinalysis was insufficient. Members needed to provide copies of special liberty chits, memorandums, and leave or TAD paperwork.

Incredible. The one morning I am not at work, all bedlam breaks loose. The LPO, instead of requesting assistance from more experienced officers, directs his junior enlisted to generate a special lib chit for me and backdate it. Not a good idea. Besides, officers don't routinely route special request chits; they generally draft memos or letters requesting time off. The fact of the matter is, this wasn't an incident that would require written notification.

So, my LPO decided his brain power was sufficient for responding to this situation. If he had been on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," he probably would have lost his opportunity to win. Steven Shapiro has a better answer and one this LPO can employ now and for future emergenices.

Typically, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" allows you to use all your accumulated knowledge to answer questions of increasing difficulty and esoterica. You may finally get to a point where you can no longer weed out obvious distractors and have exhausted your personal information fount. That's where consulting others comes in handy.

Phone-a-Friend only works if your friend is more knowledgeable than you. In the Navy, people who are consulted by others are usually Sea Lawyers. That is not a popular moniker.

In Fifty-Fifty, two of the answers are removed. However, if you have no answers or you know that the answers you do have are probably not right, this option doesn't help.

Ask the Audience is a little better, but again, it relies too heavily on the knowledge of the crowd. As with 50-50, if you don't know your options or you know what you do have is not correct, asking your audience won't be helpful.

Finally, Ask the Expert. This is what I told the LPO to do for future problems. For one thing, consulting with someone who has considerably more experience will provide a lot more viable options. Also, the expert will tend to have more rank and authority to take the heat or to run interference for him.

In healthcare, many medical and nursing students have notecards, crib sheets, or PDAs to scribble the information they need at fingertip notice and they refer to these bits of data as their peripheral brains. In the business world, they call it networking---using people (and their collective knowledge) to find answers and get ahead.

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