A Return to Extreme Basics

For senior leaders, now is the time to identify and close gaps in basic operating discipline.

“Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”


In his book, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, David Maraniss cited Lombardi’s quote during a Green Bay Packers training camp in the summer of 1961. That season the Packers would win the NFL Championship in their very first appearance. Like many transformational leaders in highly reliable industries, Lombardi recognized a vital principle of high-performance, flawless execution of the basics.

To be sure the Great Lockdown of 2020 has disrupted the fragile stability of global systems of economic, health care, and critical infrastructures and has taught sweeping lessons to all industries in resilience. While the timing is uncertain, a recovery is not. Clearly, we are not out of the woods, but expert forecasts and a shared sentiment indicate restoration is on the horizon.

So how are you preparing for the inevitable return to normalized operations?

Many experts are spending the interim enhancing the basics. No matter what industry, ambition, or endeavor, these are the skills, tasks, or roles necessary to disciplined performance. Interestingly, in a recent Louisiana Chemical Association panel, three Plant Managers delivering specialty products in diverse industries all said the same thing.

It is human nature to over analyze, add complexity, push harder, and lose sight of what is essential. Over complication typically manifests itself as operational drift, normalizing behaviors originally viewed as improper, or trading shared standards in pursuit of what appear to be healthy alternatives.

At Vetergy, our purpose is to Operationalize Resilience in Complex Organizations where resilience defines an organization’s ability to adapt and respond to unforeseen and inevitable disruptions. And the precursor to adaptive resilience is an enduring bedrock of precision in basics. Extreme competence in basics smooths the edges of disruptions and prepares us for any future event.

Here I am using the term “basic” to describe the simplest and most important components of an operation from which all other things develop.

The basics of operating discipline we focus on are:

1. Asset Integrity. Fit for purpose, well-maintained equipment and tools available to perform the work safely and reliably

2. Operating Processes & Procedures. Accurate, assessable, flexible procedures and a procedure use culture to guide operations within prescribed tolerances

3. Competence. The programs, training methods, and competence management systems for delivering a confident, technically skilled workforce capable of interpretation and improvisation to safely operate the equipment within procedural guidelines to produce results

4. Leadership. A vertical and horizontal body of leadership capable of delivering results by building engaged, high-performing teams

 To learn more about how Vetergy can help you evaluate and enhance the basics of operating discipline in your organization, click here.

You may also like

Dr. Kari Strobel Joins the Vetergy ...
on June 22, 2023

On behalf of the entire team, I’m delighted to welcome Dr. Kari Strobel to Vetergy! Adding Kari to ...

commentIcon 0 Comments
David Wilbur
The Best (not so) Little EHS ...
on June 15, 2022

Vetergy was proud to be an exhibitor, presenter, and sponsor at the recent 2022 Texas/ Louisiana ...

commentIcon 0 Comments
Edward Flynn
Vetergy is Heading to Galveston!
on May 15, 2022

Vetergy Group is heading to Galveston, Texas, from June 6th through the 9th for the Environmental, ...

commentIcon 0 Comments
Team Vetergy
Who Are You Going To Blame?
on April 25, 2022

People gathered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 6-7, 2022, for the American Society of Safety ...

commentIcon 0 Comments
Edward Flynn
Vetergy Group Approved as ...
on March 24, 2022

Birmingham, AL, March 22, 2022 -- Vetergy Group is proud to announce that they have been approved ...

commentIcon 0 Comments
Team Vetergy
The Truth Behind Operational ...
on February 16, 2022

The basic pursuit of Operational Resilience is to form, measure, sustain and improve a system ...

commentIcon 0 Comments
Team Vetergy