Surprise! From CEOs to Navy Seals: How a Select Group of Professionals Prepare for and Respond to the Unexpected

Surprise! From CEOs to Navy Seals: How a Select Group of Professionals Prepare for and Respond to the Unexpected

Surprise! From CEOs to Navy Seals: How a Select Group of Professionals Prepare for and Respond to the Unexpected

Surprise! From CEOs to Navy Seals: How a Select Group of Professionals Prepare for and Respond to the Unexpected

Excerpt

The objective of this research was to investigate how a variety of professions prepare for and respond to surprise. After speaking with former ambassadors, chief executive officers, military personnel, and health care professionals (among others), we report on some common methods and techniques that they use to prepare for and respond to unforeseen situations. We focused on two factors that influence how practitioners deal with surprise—available response time and level of chaos in the work environment—and we note how these factors affect people’s approaches toward preparing for and responding to unexpected events.

We performed this research for the Advanced Systems & Technologies Directorate (AS&T) at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NRO faces an operational environment that is faster paced, more uncertain, and filled with more variables than it was even ten years ago. One of the biggest challenges facing the Intelligence Community today is that it must confront unknown threats that continue to emerge from unexpected directions. To address these challenges, the NRO asked RAND to investigate how other occupations prepare for and respond to unexpected events (surprises). For example: Are there practices that medical practitioners, military personnel, or foreign service workers employ that could teach AS&T something about how to better prepare for unexpected events? The findings from this research will therefore be useful to NRO strategists as they make plans to shape the workforce and future operations.

This research was conducted within the Intelligence Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD

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