Ask for Forgiveness vs. Permission
This is basically about making a quick decision instead of going through the sometimes long and drawn-out process of getting the permission you need in order to do whatever it is you are looking to do.
Rules are made for the masses to keep everyone going in one direction. If we didn’t have rules, we would have total chaos. I am not advocating chaos in any way. However, sometimes the situation requires you to make an on the spot decision without getting any backup approval that you would normally need to have in order to do the task.
For instance, I was stationed in the UK for 4 years. When I first got there I was put into the “Systems” area as the deputy manager. I basically ran the mainframe computer system for our office. It was a Wang system that would take 3-4 hours to recover when it crashed.
We were all leaving the office to attend a mandatory function at the main base. Just as I was wrapping up to leave the system crashed. We were in our critical year end phase in the contracting office where overtime was happening and every minute of system time for the buyers was crucial to get the orders processed.
I made a leadership decision to stay behind and reorganize the system so it would be up when everybody got back. If I didn’t do that they would be staying much later into the night to get their work done waiting for the system to come up.
I didn’t ask for permission because there was no one to ask. They were all gone already. Sometimes you have to make those decisions and defend your actions afterwards.
See you next week!
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired