Immersion Training for Business with the Blue Angels Foundation and National Flight Academy
By Rob Ffield
In all areas of life, progress is not perfectly linear. Inevitably, even top-performers will encounter setbacks and reach plateaus. What sets truly elite individuals and organizations apart is how they respond to setbacks and extreme challenges. The best use these events as inspiration and catalysts for improvement. But there can be risks. That is why many of the world’s most elite teams opt for a preemptive alternative- Immersion training.
Whether you’re celebrating a recent success or facing a new challenge, immersive team training can be a very cost efficient and low risk. The most effective immersive training events create demanding, out-of-the-box situations that require the team to optimize their Performance Triad (Passion, Free Will, and Focus) oriented culture and strengthen the execution basics of planning, briefing, debriefing, communication and trust.
In this spirit, I was thrilled to join the Blue Angels Foundation at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola Florida for a special immersion training event conducted for 30 senior executives of one of the top 50 Fortune 500 companies.
The Blue Angel Foundation designed an experiential, immersive training plan that took these experienced individuals, many with $B-plus P&L responsibility, well out of their comfort zones to improve their communication, preparation, briefing, execution and debriefing skills. In short, the training forced them to collective elevate their performance well beyond what they thought possible.
It started right when the attendees first arrived in Pensacola. Without any advanced warning, the team of executives found themselves immersed in the world’s largest simulated aircraft carrier!
The first clue the attendees had that this wasn’t going to be a typical hotel / conference room based training session came on the first night we issued the attendees their flight suits and informed them that rather than sleeping in their comfortable hotel beds, that they would be spending the following evening in realistic U.S. Navy racks.
Changing from casual business attire and private hotel rooms to uniform flight suits and simulated ship-board living set the tone that this was more than a simple exercise to be performed by a group of individuals brought together by circumstance. Instead, this was going to be a challenge that could only be accomplished by working together in close quarters as a team.
From that point forward, the attendees were tested by a series of stressful missions to be completed under the guidance of several salty characters from the Blue Angel Foundation and the National Flight Academy staff.
In a short 24-hour period and with no previous piloting experience, the attendees learned how to fly high-performance jet aircraft on and off of an aircraft carrier and successfully complete very stressful missions just like a combat experienced team of Navy fighter pilots. Immersion training at it’s finest!
In the post-event debrief, there was a sense of elation resulting from successfully accomplishing what was thought to be impossible just a day before. But even more important were the individual comments and optimism for the future. There was confidence that by immediately implementing the Blue Angel inspired mission briefing, debriefing, and high-trust leadership skills within their business units, the same dramatic results were sure to happen. We will be following up this training in six months to see how it is going. So far, mission success.
Many thanks to the City of Pensacola, the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the National Flight Academy for making this such a successful event.
All proceeds from this event went directly to the Blue Angel Foundation support for wounded veterans.