How to Protect Your Future with SA

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Many of you who read this will associate the term situational awareness (SA) with either military operations or security concerns. In terms of military, SA is knowing for example, the location, speed, direction, and fire power of hostiles. In terms of security, SA relates to being familiar with your surroundings, having a heightened sense of awareness of events unfolding around you and being at the ready to take any necessary actions. In today’s society we all need to take a certain amount of personal responsibility for our own safety. But what place does SA have in business?

Certainly, there are safety and security concerns in business. Every employer must make concerted efforts to ensure the safety of employees and customers from simple “slip and fall” accidents to taking every possible precaution where machinery and vehicles are involved, and any human threats as well. However, SA doesn’t just apply to physical threats, there are other applications for SA in business.

Your Operations Picture

As a leader it is important to have a well-developed sense of SA around what has happened in the past, what is currently going on in your company and industry, and what is likely to occur in the future. Connecting these dots can provide your organization with an operational edge, a more effective team, and provide a better experience for your customers.


Collecting data is smart. Collecting data in silos and not cross checking it against other data is not using data to its full potential thereby helping to create SA for customers, products, and services. As an example, think about traveling to a conference. Just in a hotel alone, look at the many services one guest might utilize during a stay. One guest may use the bell service, the front desk, one or two food services, housekeeping, hotel transportation, meeting rooms, hotel technology, and more! Just collecting this data in each spot and failing to integrate it ensuring that the guest experience is excellent hotel wide would be a huge mistake.

Taking this to another level, look at data city wide as this same guest might use other services and products in your city such as transportation, shopping, and entertainment. Imagine cross checking all of this data to make your city one of the most attractive places for business to hold conferences.

Decision Making

Speaking of data. If your executive or management team is given the same data, each person receiving the data will interpreter the data differently and make varying decisions about next steps, the solution, or developing a process. Whys is this?

Every person has varying levels of data processing abilities, training, experience, and innate qualities. Further, today’s workforce deals with faster, more cognitive, and technological related decisions than ever before. This requires far more effort than just dealing with a few pieces of data.

As an illustration of how different people deal with different data input to reach a decision, here’s a story of that very activity in action. Recently I had the “opportunity” to watch a television game show. The contestants were two women. They were fed the same clues, each clue building on the previous clue as to the answer for the question. Each heard the other’s clues, and if one missed the answer, the clue then went to the other contestant. One woman got every answer correct! She didn’t always answer every clue correctly, but overall, she gave the correct answer to every problem. The other woman simply could not “connect the dots” on how the clues were building on one another leading to the correct answer and she gave completely off the wall answers to each guess she made.

Are you willing to ask your team questions to see if they are all on the same page about your goals, how to respond to challenges, and how you want to serve your customers? There is no doubt the data you collect will be interesting, good, bad, or indifferent, and you will quickly learn the why and how decisions are being made.

Increase Your Team’s SA

  • One of the jobs that takes a lot of SA is that of air traffic controllers. They must be aware of the position of every plan in their “territory.” A leader, too, must be aware of the positions and attitudes of each team member. Are their conflicts? Do you understand each team member’s behavioral style? Do you know what motives them? This is part of SA for a leader to build a high performing team.
  • Not only does a leader need to be aware of the elements mentioned above, but also how those elements or data input if you will affect his or her goals. Going deeper, a leader needs to be able to take a 30,000-foot view to see and understand what competitors are doing and why. Then understanding how those activities will affect future plans.
  • Use the data you have been collecting to outflank the competition. Understanding outcomes of these types of situations will prove invaluable in your decision-making process. Be nimble enough to act quickly if your competitor makes a merger or creates a new product.

Using SA as a tool, can help you build high performing teams, meet goals, and protect your future.

If you want more information on self-assessments as it applies to SA call 404-320-7834, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit

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