FLIGBY in the Navy SEAL training program
The Honor Foundation
FLIGBY at Navy SEAL is We always take pride when acclaimed organizations recognize and employ our solutions. When the best in a profession chooses FLIGBY, we feel that traveling a more challenging road is worthwhile. The Navy SEALs are the world’s leading elite military force, and FLIGBY has been part of their decommissioning training program for soldiers for the last two years.
Integrating Special Forces soldiers into the civilian world is a complex task. Several organizations are helping in this preparation process, including The Honor Foundation (THF), which was set up for experts directing special units. THF has been an active FLIGBY partner for two years, thanks to Michael Crooke (MC), an ex-Navy SEAL. MC is an excellent example of a person who has successfully transitioned between careers. After decommissioning, he went to work at Patagonia, a company specializing in outdoor apparel, later becoming its CEO. He now teaches business strategy as a Dean of the University of Oregon.
Serving in the Special Forces only happens with leaving a mark. The organization’s boss, Jeff Pottinger, who served in the US Marines, shared his experience with us. Few FLIGBY clients are so serious about taking the program. Jeff is not only aware of the content and functioning of the simulation; he also knows the expectations of his students perfectly.
It was a learning experience to see how proficient the former leaders of the special teams remain in solving their tasks in civil life: no detail escapes their attention. They prepare for all possible situations, know how to react when a player discusses the game’s feedback system, and plan to deal with participants if rivalries break out over learning game results.
The training management team knows exactly what it wants to achieve by employing FLIGBY. They deliver high-quality programs with precise design, strict implementation, and detection of problems, where the objective of the analysis is to work toward eliminating mistakes. All this is executed with modesty and no formality but with the awareness of excellence.
Why is FLIGBY interesting for a decommissioning Navy SEAL?
According to Gallup’s surveys, 70% of US employees do not enjoy their work. This is precisely the opposite of job satisfaction in the US military, where 70% of people are satisfied with what they have always wanted to do.
So why is it interesting to have a game-based leadership development simulation in California winemaking for decommissioning soldiers? Jeff mentioned the followings:
1. Preparing for the corporate world – The army is a unique environment whose rules differ significantly from those of business organizations. Usually, we think that companies are no longer organized on orders and instructions, and an individual’s difference of opinion is not a betrayal. However, there is a much more exciting aspect of this. According to Gallup’s surveys, 70% of US employees do not enjoy their work and feel they have little choice but to persevere under unfavorable situations. In the military, it is precisely the opposite: 70% of people think they are dealing with what they have always wanted to do and cannot imagine anything more exciting and motivating than military service. In decommissioning soldiers, the objective is to prepare them for a potentially less stimulating environment and that companies have workers who more or less hate their tasks and the entire work environment. From this point of view, FLIGBY is an ideal modeling device: some characters are on the edge of burnout, while others are partially de-motivated.
2. For Special Forces, decision-making is dominated by men – The internal rules of special teams prohibit women from actively participating in certain combat acts. For the program participants, it is interesting to experience that women leaders can also significantly influence strategic decisions and the active role they sometimes play in organizational conflicts. Those who have played FLIGBY will hardly forget Rebecca, the Sales Director of the Turul Winery. The analysis/interpretation of her role and its impact on the company’s operation is an integral part of the THF program.
3. Understanding the Differences between Management Cultures – One of the most incorrect pre-conceived assumptions about the army is that tasks are carried out through commands to people without thinking. Special Forces have long recognized that a rapidly changing environment should stimulate the rethinking of classical decision-making hierarchies. Implementing a more serious military action (“project”) is carried out along the “Shared Leadership Model, “the underlying thesis being that experts should make expert decisions. The commander does not prescribe operational execution (solving operational tasks) and accepts the experts’ opinions and judgments in a given situation.
Modern organizations face many challenges on the road to success: insecurity, dynamic changes, globalization, complex work tasks, and dangerous operating environments. These challenges inspire us to focus on high-performing teams instead of rigid structures built on individuals.
These teams avoid direct work organization based on hierarchical leadership and prefer decentralized leadership models that mobilize members’ diverse expertise and experience.
This emerging management practice is called “shared leadership,” which shares the initiative among members, allowing free access to the expertise needed to deal effectively with a given situation.
Navy SEAL veterans, therefore, come from a context in which subordination does not hinder the execution of work: leaders accept the views of experts who, in return, take full responsibility for their decisions. In traditional large business environments, something else is needed. Soldiers must, therefore, be prepared for that in workplaces; people do not trust each other 100%, may consistently hide their true motivation, and in many cases, using the management toolkit is not a “common affair” but rather the enforcement of individual interests. After a clear set of values and open rules of the army, soldiers consider the civilian workplace a dangerous and self-governing jungle into which FLIGBY players can gain valuable insights, still under protected conditions.
4. Appropriate management of competitive behavior – The Special Forces members have extreme competitive behavior patterns. These people constantly compare their results with their group’s average values and other groups’ performance. This is pretty much all right since war is a zero-sum game, with winners and necessarily losers, for which any nation-state is waiting for “sons” to be sent off to war to come out as the winner. In the modern corporate world, however, the dynamic harmony of competition and cooperation has become an essential condition for success. Organizations often compete and cooperate simultaneously, which results in relatively complex situations. Their proper management goes far beyond the “we” and “they” type of distinction and the “defeat them (specifically: kill them”) approach. FLIGBY is an excellent interactive case study from this point of view, as players learn how to build and maintain sensitive equilibrium situations both within and outside the organization while maintaining the company’s profitability sustainably.
Experience shows that the biggest obstacle to veterans’ integration is potentially a “poor cultural fit” into a company’s corporate culture. This is how FLIGBY became part of the preparation for Special Forces veterans decommissioning from the United States military. It’s a simulation that helps these veterans get an introduction to the unfolding business environment through direct experience.
It’s an honor that FLIGBY was chosen for this innovative program.