Focus on high situational awareness

Wardley’s Doctrine

During the Korean War US pilots shot down their Korean and Chinese counterparts at a 10:1 ratio despite flying the F-86, an aircraft technically inferior to their rivals’ Soviet-made Mig-15. While the quality of pilot training contributed to this combat advantage it couldn’t account for the size of the ratio as both sides had elite pilots. Eventually the secret was discovered: the bubble canopy of the F-86 provided a distinct advantage to the US pilot over the constrained view offered by the Mig-15 canopy in detecting enemy aircraft”.⁠ Despite being technically inferior this quirk in the design of the F-86 gave its pilots greater ‘situational awareness’ — the ability to see the surrounding environment better, detect threats a split second earlier and act before rivals did — creating a significant competitive advantage.

There is a strong correlation between situational awareness and performance: seeing your environment enables you to detect opportunities and threats earlier and respond quicker. It’s the equivalent of being able to look before you leap. Therefore, focusing on high situational awareness is the first universally-useful principle your organisation should adopt to increase its AQ (Adaptivity Intelligence⁠) and start outcompeting rivals.

This short article is part of a series exploring what ‘next generation’ organisations do that your organisation possibly doesn’t. There are 40 universally-useful habits and principles that highly-adaptive organisations (those with high AQ) employ. And there’s no reason why your organisation can’t adopt them too. In fact, you probably have to if you want to survive and thrive in a fast-changing world.

Links to other articles in this series are here:

  1. What do ‘next generation’ organisations do that you don’t?

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Govern the state by being straight-forward; wage war by being crafty. — Laozi

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Govern the state by being straight-forward; wage war by being crafty. — Laozi

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