Unveiling the Dynamics of Mission-Critical Teams: Insights from Dr. Preston Cline

What are Mission Critical Teams and how do they train, live and operate? A conversation with Dr. Preston Cline from the Mission Critical Team Institute. We talk about the characteristics of Mission-Critical Teams: These teams are indigenously trained, meaning they learn on the job rather than in traditional academic settings. They operate in decision-making environments of about 300 seconds or less due to the critical nature of their work. Teams typically consist of 4 to 12 members, and the consequences of failure can be catastrophic. We talk about the following topics:

Training versus Education

Apprenticeship Model: Dr. Cline discusses the concept of apprenticeship and its importance in fields like medicine. He emphasizes the need for prolonged mentorship to develop not only technical skills but also resilience and mindfulness.

After-Action Reviews (AARs): Dr. Cline suggests improvements to the traditional AAR process, such as focusing on influencing the narrative, spending more time on understanding what actually happened, and telling the whole story, including uncomfortable or challenging aspects.

Educational Goals: The conversation delves into broader educational goals beyond technical competence.

Storytelling: The importance of storytelling in mission critical teams culture, including its role in teaching and embedding knowledge, as well as recognizing toxic narratives.

Culture and Identity: The connection between storytelling, culture, and identity within teams, emphasizing the need for belonging and understanding of shared narratives.

Education and Training: The distinction between training for certainty, education for adaptive engagement, and professional development for identity and moral principles.

Transitions: The need for acknowledging and supporting transitions within teams, from new members joining to leaders transitioning roles, and the development of a transition curriculum.

Well-being: Addressing the challenges of chronic stress and burnout among mission critical teams, emphasizing the importance of redefining concepts like sacrifice and hard work in the modern context.

Performance Under Pressure

Learning and Adaptation: Considering the role of learning, adaptation, and understanding AI in preparing for future challenges and opportunities in mission critical environments.

The third thing: Recognizing the importance of physical activity and hobbies outside of work for maintaining well-being and resilience.

Routine vs. Critical Communication: Introducing the concept of routine vs. critical communication and its significance in effective teamwork and decision-making.

These topics cover a wide range of aspects related to mission critical teams, including communication, culture, education, well-being, and adaptation to change.