Firefighters Show You Can Develop a Strategy While Fighting Fires

Firefighters Show You Can Develop a Strategy While Fighting Fires

Firefighters Show You can Develop a Strategy While Fighting Fires

“Employees at all levels are too busy ‘doing their jobs’ and ‘fighting fires’ to devote time or pay heed to strategic initiatives.” It’s a common complaint. Academic literature has confirmed that ‘firefighting’ takes up much of the manager’s job and offers extensive advice on how to stop fighting fires – and even how to suppress the urge to do so.

Actual firefighters show us that responding to immediate exigencies and working toward a long-term vision of success are not contradictory. Even as they continued fighting fires, the fire community in the U.S. undertook a strategy that has achieved remarkable successes, cutting fires by half and reducing fatalities and damage. Identifying and targeting root causes, fire specialists established a lasting example for those looking to optimize not just existing processes, but also ultimate outcomes.

A turning point in the fight against fire loss was the publication of the report “America Burning” in 1972, which a later FEMA-chartered commission described as a “seminal effort in systematizing our nation’s efforts to address the fire hazard and the resultant loss of life and property. It was greeted with praise by all elements of government and the fire community.” Instead of focusing solely on improving capabilities for fighting fires after they had grown dangerous, the report called for a holistic approach that emphasized stopping fires as soon as possible or preventing them outright.

The essence of strategy is visualizing success and focusing on how best achieve it. Firefighters had to keep responding to incidents and continually improve how they did so, but they also adopted the high return-on-investment strategy of becoming fire preventers. As more members of the community bought into this approach, fires plummeted, and they now represent only 4% of fire service calls.

The lesson is clear: immediate concerns, no matter how pressing, should not crowd out work toward strategic objectives. The challenge for leaders and managers is to balance the two – to win the battle and the war.

About Arc Aspicio
Arc Aspicio is a management, strategy, and technology consulting firm that takes a mission-oriented approach to complex client challenges. As a rapidly growing company, Arc Aspicio has a bold strategy for 2016-2018 that drives growth through new capabilities in strategy, design, human capital, data analytics, information sharing, cybersecurity, and strategic communications. The company is known for a strong, collaborative culture that values gratitude – for its clients and its great team. And, #welovedogs! Follow us on Twitter @arcaspicio or learn more at www.arcaspicio.com.

Contributors

Dmitriy Zakharov |

Dmitriy is a Consulting Manager presently leading a strategic foresight and planning project. He holds a BSFS in International Politics and an MA in Security Studies, both with a concentration in International Security. Dmitriy has extensive experience conducting outreach with a wide range of audiences and stakeholders, from senior government leaders to the general public. He has also worked in organizational analysis and design, enterprise data analytics, change management, and leadership transition support. In addition to client delivery, Dmitriy helps lead Arc Aspicio’s strategy consulting efforts, including the Strategy Innovation Lab (SILab). He has managed numerous community service and social events for the company and regularly provides counsel on new business and emergency management topics.

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