Navy SEALs and lethal assumptions

They have a hostage inside the house. The insurgents have taken the local police chief’s nephew and hold him for a ransome.

You are the SEAL team leader. Your mission is to get the boy out unharmed.

Image for post
Image for post

Everything is already planned out. The team is ready to move at your command. But just at the last moment new intel arrives.

There are IED:s buried on the ground. Improvised explosives! And a machine gun in the house.

You’re the team leader. What do you do?

The first impulse is natural. It might be not to go in, because it is not worth the risk. Maybe the impulse would be to abort the mission or to return and re-plan.

But let me ask you this one thing:

On what capture/kill direct-action raid can you be certain there are no explosives buried in the ground?

Of course the answer is obvious. None. There can be no such mission when we can really be certain that there are no deadly explosives hidden somewhere. In fact that kind of assumptions are lethal.

As a software professional, this flags just one question in my mind. Why is it then, that we so often release our software products sided with lethal assumptions instead of preperations for the what-ifs?

Now the next time you have launches and go-lives ahead. Plan like a SEAL. Gather intel. Don’t afford the assumptions. Prepare for the what-ifs. Test.

Success will follow.

This post was inspider by the awesome book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Both Ex-Navy SEALs.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store