Inspired by the lack of leadership displayed around the world over the last 6 months, a group of ex-soldiers have decided to take their learnings from war to a different type of battlefield – The City. Alongside the Producers of award-winning film Kajaki – The True Story (also known in the US as Kilo Two Bravo), the one-day course for corporate and government audiences uses different situations from the film to create a dynamic, immersive, and inspiring training session that has received much acclaim during its beta-testing. Command and Leadership Under Extreme Stress (CLUES) is in your face training”, says Paul Katis, the Director of Kajaki. “Once the programme starts, you find yourself very quickly stuck with the patrol in the middle of an unmarked minefield, with no easy way out. You share their fear of who will be next, the sense of paralysis, the risk of losing the initiative and being trapped by indecision”.
Since their soft launch last month, the response has been remarkable, with law firms, tech firms and big pharma companies all signing up their management for the course. “There is very clearly a need for better training in decision-making during times of stress. From the government, to corporate leader, and even down to every individual, these unprecedented times require rapid, multi-dimension thinking,” explained Lieutenant General Jon Riley, the senior military adviser to the CLUES project and a decorated senior officer who served as NATO force commander in Gorazde, East Bosnia, and as the Deputy Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan during his time in the British Army. ‘Death-by-PowerPoint is replaced by the real threat of being in a minefield”
No coffee breaks needed
Regular training programs are famous for death-by-PowerPoint. Not during a CLUES program. which creates an immersive experience that keeps up a fast pace from the very beginning. Owned and run by professional trainers who are also ex-forces, delegates are encouraged to consider situational awareness, preparedness, risk assessment, judgement, evaluation, the acceptance of responsibility and decision making. All of this is set up under conditions of limited time and information, a changing situation and sensory overload, in order to help them understand how stress and motivation can distort and impair rational decision making.
Based on a true story
In 2006, a three-man patrol of British soldiers near the Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, set off to observe a Taliban roadblock. In a dried-up riverbed at the foot of the ridge, one of the soldiers steps on a landmine that blows off his leg precipitating a desperate rescue operation. The situation goes from bad to worse which heightens the pressure on the leaders to find a seemingly impossible solution without endangering more lives.
This true event has not only been turned into a multi-million pound, award-winning feature film produced by Pukka Films Ltd in 2014, it is also used as an immersive case study for decision making under intense pressure during a CLUES workshop.
Through real life examples taken from the film, the CLUES training package examines the factors likely to contribute to poor operational preparedness, leading to miss appreciation of risk and cognitive impairment when a catastrophe inevitably occurs. The raw and graphic scenario, which is likely to fall outside the comfort zone of the delegates, presents them with a golden opportunity to identify the factors leading to a disaster and then, in the face of a worsening situation visualise workable solutions against the clock.
The training package also examines concepts of moral and physical courage and the need to do what is right, rather than what is easy. “These factors are very much part of the moral and conceptual components of fighting power, of why and how we fight and it’s no different in the civilian world”, explained General Riley. Now an author and defence and security consultant, General Riley has been closely involved in developing the training package and adapting it for the Corporate world as the key learning points are integral to command and leadership when all around is confusing and fast changing.