|Posted on August 13, 2017 at 8:55 PM|
The age of discovery was a fascinating time of rapid change and exploration where the world was still being explored, scientific thought was new, and war romanticized. Stretching from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 20th with the reaching of the south pole, the age of discovery was a time for reaching into the unknown and pushing boundaries. Running adjunct to the capstone of this period was world war one. World war one is a period in and of itself where times collide. As the age of discovery was coming to an end, world war one accelerated the shift at lightning speeds. Where countries such as France were still wearing their Napoleonic uniforms while the Germans were marching into battle wearing gray uniforms that blend in better with their environment. The French were still living in the romanticized times of the past, marching in columns, the Germans realized the introduction of the machine gun no longer allowed for such battle tactics. The French quickly ran into German machine gun fire, losing 27,000 men in a day. A century before Napoleon was saying he could afford to lose 30,000 people per month, that is a big change in numbers over a relatively short period of time. Fast forward another hundred years and according to militarytimes.com’s Honor the Fallen section, as of writing this chapter 6894 casualties were confirmed by U.S. Central Command during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation, Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn combined. As times change, it is important to change with them. The technological advances were happening so quickly during world war one that it was hard to keep up.
Although the machine gun was around prior to world war one, its use on a large scale was first present during the Great War. The machine gun introduced the need for trenches, and trenches left no man’s land where the only thing present were rounds from the heavy casualty producing weapons. People would only enter no man’s land at night to gather dead bodies. If people tried to rush across no man’s land, the would unknowingly be funneled by barbed wire directly into a kill zone. There was no hope for people crossing the barren land that looked more like a lunar landscape that European field. WWI veteran wrote in his memoir, “I was a German,”
“One night we heard a cry, the cry of one in excruciating pain; then all was quiet again. Someone in his death agony, we thought. But an hour later the cry came again. It never ceased the whole night. Nor the following night... Later we learned that it was one of our own men hanging on the wire. Nobody could do anything for him; two men had already tried to save him, only to be shot themselves.”
The dead space in the middle-introduced tanks into the picture, the tanks led to wider trenches that the tanks could not cross. Then the artillery began to grow. If soldiers could not cross the forsaken lands, then they would blast the enemy away with the largest artillery the world had ever known. Comparing the artillery from the civil war in the U.S. about half a century prior to the cannon’s being used during WWI, it was like comparing a horse and buggy to a Tesla.
Simple things have tremendous influence. Something as simple as barbed wire changed WWI as well as the western front during the tail end of the 19th century and western expansion by sectioning off the American Frontier into confined spaces rather than open ranges they were known for. Since wood and stone were expensive and hard to carry, barbed wire was used by ranchers to confine their area. The America that we had identified as was changing, and simple wire played a massive role.
When running an organization, it’s important to remember the small things are what win wars. With all the technological advances during WWI, it was the small gaps in the trenches that made many of the advances possible. Organizations rarely crumble because of the expected. It’s the unexpected that cripples a Titan. The taxi service had been on autopilot for decades letting the guard down when Uber came along and swept the carpet from under them. There was nothing stopping taxi companies from creating a similar app for their drivers, but they did not bother. Now their only defense is legal action which only last so long. If pressure is on your back and you don’t have a finished project yet, remember, when Walt Disney opened Disneyland, only one third of it was functional and some of the attractions that were open were having problems. Sometimes you must go with what you have, not what you want. It’s better to act on a half decent plan now, than not be able to act later because it’s too late.
Understanding the environment your organization functions in as well as staying ahead of the game be keeping possible scenarios in mind is essential as a leader. The team’s success is ultimately yours and yours alone, keep that in mind next time you feel a competitor is too small to make an impact or your current place in the market is paving the way because of your technology. It’s not the technology that wins wars, it’s the people. It’s the people who found those gaps in the trenches.
Categories: Coaching Theory