Leadership Nudge® 256 – Deliberate Action admin May 8, 2019

Leadership Nudge® 256 – Deliberate Action


Hi, today we’re talking about deliberate action.  

What happened was we had a sailor who was trying to do the right thing, inadvertently shut a breaker that shouldn’t have been shut. And there was actually a red tag hanging on it that said, “Don’t shut this breaker.”  

The problem is, even people trying to do the right thing will occasionally make a mistake. So how do we minimize the chance of those human errors? What we came up with was this idea of deliberate action, which was we would pause and vocalize what we were going to do before we did it.  

So in this case, here’s my simulated breaker box. And we have these control panels 1, 3, 5, 7, 2, 4, 6, 8. And if I want to shut one of these breakers, let’s say I’m shutting the breaker for control panel one, I will put my hand over it and say “shutting breaker for control panel one.” And I would pause. 

This is mine mainly for me. I would reflect – is my hand on the right breaker? is Control Panel one the one I want to energize? When I was convinced that was right, I would shut it. Chunk.  

But the benefit of announcing it out loud was that if anyone was around me (the team) they could glance over and say,  

“Oh, hands off. I thought your hand was on Control Panel three.” 

“Okay, thanks a lot. Shutting the breaker for control panel one.” And I try over again.  

So the idea is called deliberate action and it’s injecting a moment of mindful thinking between the impulse to do something and the actual physical act of making it happen.  

I’m David Marquet and that’s your Leadership Nudge.