Three Keys to Avoiding Fatal Leadership Errors: Lessons From the “Miracle on the Hudson”

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How to Fly the Complexity Chasm

What Captain Sully Can Teach Us About Business Complexity and Adaptive Leadership

The “Miracle on the Hudson” is widely remembered for the heroism and poise that Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger showed as he guided a disabled commercial plane with 155 passengers aboard to a safe water landing.

But what, specifically, allowed the airline pilot to take control in a complex situation he’d never encountered before? In a recent article for Dialogue, Tony O’Driscoll, Professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Academic Director of the Adaptive Strategic Execution Program (ASEP), provides us with new insight into the story.

In How to Fly the Complexity Chasm, O’Driscoll draws parallels from Captain Sully’s predicament to what project leaders are challenged with in today’s volatile and uncertain business environment.

He begins by defining the difference between a complicated and complex operating context — why it matters, and how a leader’s response is different depending on what type of context they find themselves in. Then, O’Driscoll provides a concrete explanation of how leaders can navigate this “complexity chasm” effectively. He defines and elaborates on three critical steps:

Ultimately, Captain Sully’s ability to diagnose his context, then to reframe, rewire, and reconfigure — all in a matter of seconds — was what allowed him to execute the emergency landing on the Hudson River.

In this video preview of our Making Sense of Complexity course, a cornerstone of the ASEP curriculum, O’Driscoll and other Strategy Execution colleagues reiterate the significance of this topic and why organizations and project teams today should take notice:

Download and read the full article, How to Fly the Complexity Chasm, to learn more about the lessons from the “Miracle on the Hudson” and how adaptive leadership can help you navigate today’s emerging business challenges.

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