Testimony on Capitol Hill regarding the attack on Benghazi revealed there was conflict between managers and employees concerning resource requests. I am not trying to second guess the State Department Officials because I do not have the expertise they have. I am pointing out that trying to defend a position that is highly questionable can never turn out in your favor. Employees wanted what they believe was the right resource at the right place, in a timely manner. This is a basic logistical concept. Capability must meet the requirements. A scenario where there is a mismatch in the resources and the requirements, can never turn out good.
When we look at Katrina in the light of history we find that people knew that the resources didn’t match the requirements of dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane. Getting out of the area was the answer. Sometimes employees on the ground can feel that something is wrong or something bad is going to happen that they just can’t put into words. Evaluating the risks, hazards and resources to meet the challenges is key if you want your operation to be successful. This is at the heart of preparation.
Claims of preparedness will be challenged by the situation and the situation is never merciful. The Benghazi situation tested the preparedness posture of the State Department. It tested the assumptions, the resources, and their ability to listen to the employees. When the environment changes we must be willing to change how we do things and assume we are not prepared until we examine all the issues. How can employees communicate effectively when managers don’t see things the same way? I advocate that employees need to examine and learn how to manage their superiors. No one teaches employees how to deal with this power imbalance. Employees need to get a hold on this communication phenomena before they get overwhelmed by events. Managers need to understand the phenomena before they are left to explain the unexplainable. I’d rather live to explain why I felt a certain way than have someone blame me when I am dead. If your assumptions do not hold true in the light of planning requirements and testing you are not prepared.