Some of you know I am a scientist for a billion-dollar company in the paper industry. Among the types of paper we make is hardback book paper that goes into a lot of popular Civil War titles (including my two upcoming books), as well as the occasional wargaming book. We make metallized paper for beer and water bottle labels and teabag and coffee papers for your gaming refreshments, as well as the postage stamp paper you used to send away your payment check for that next shipment of figures. We make playing card paper for those wargames where initiative is decided by drawing cards from a deck. You touch our products every day of your life.
This past week, four dozen of our corporate leaders met for three days for an off-site strategy review, planning session, and training seminar. The latter portion was hosted by Afterburner, a company that provides motivational speakers and process trainers for businesses. Founded by a former U.S. military pilot, every speaker is a former or current fighter jet pilot, and they dispense a little of their military training theories and best practices to the audience of businessmen and women.
Our session was hosted by “Cruiser” (a former U.S. Marine Harrier pilot) and “Timber” (a former Air Force pilot who is currently with the New York National Guard and preparing to return to Iraq to practice the techniques on live targets). The pair of soldier-speakers led an interactive seminar to drill us on the Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Win model of aerial combat.
Now, what does all this have to do with wargaming???? Well, the Afterburner event was highlighted by a role-playing wargame where we divided into teams of 15 players to plan, brief, execute, debrief, and win on air strike on a mythical target across the ocean from our base. I was the commander of a squadron of F-18 Hornets, assigned to take out a short-range SAM site. Other players had Tomcats, Falcons. Stealth bombers, AWACS, etc., while some players were strategic or tactical planners, intelligence, refuelers, etc. We had to survive an incoming SCUD missile attack that took out some of our assets, regroup, replan, and improvise under pressure. In the end, our group successfully eliminated the targets, including the enemy’s HQ. I lost one of my Hornets, but obliterated the SAM site.
The training was powerful, instructive, and useful, as we all regrouped the next morning to begin to apply the principles learned from the fighter pilots in our daily jobs. Now, it’s time to execute and win against our enemy paper mills!!!
What an enjoyable day – getting paid to play a role-playing wargame and being reminded that business is combat and the bad guys need to be dealt with… Life is good. I head back to my job with renewed energy, more skills, and a winning attitude. Watch out bad guys!