Leadership Nudge® – The Impact of Level 1 – David Marquet
David Marquet - Intent Based Leadership: Create Leaders at Every Level

Leadership Nudge® – The Impact of Level 1

Some of the power of Intent-Based Leadership is when the team is trained and conditioned to operate at Level 5 (Intent), if they need to take action without a boss around, they’ll do it.

If a team is at Level 1 (Tell me what to do) they are not going to stretch to level 5.

Let me give you an example:

This is the government investigation on the Deep Water Horizon explosion and oil spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This is the BP oil well.

Let me read what happens. Now, where I pick up the story, the back-rush has already happened. There has already been an explosion and the platform has already been engulfed in flames.

“[The executive] began to wonder why the derrick was still roaring with flames. Hadn’t the blowout preventer been activated, sealing off the well and thus cutting off fuel for the conflagration? … [the chief engineer was] at his station on the bridge and he noticed [an operator] standing next to the [button button] the emergency disconnect switch (ESD).”

This is a switch that activates these big pincers which basically cut the well line.

“[He] hollered to [the operator]: ‘Have you [disconnected]?’
[The operator] replied he needed permission.”

The Chief Engineer then looked at the executive and said “Is it ok?” and the executive said “Yes.”

Then, someone ELSE on the bridge said, “No, no. He can’t emergency disconnect without the Offshore Installation Manager’s approval.

Not only does he need approval, but it needs to come from somebody offshore. Again, explosions have already happened. The platform is in flames.

At that point the captain who was on the bridge, dazed, confused and somewhat blinded and deafened, said “No, no. It’s fine! Disconnect! Disconnect!”

At that point, finally, we pushed the button to activate the emergency disconnect.

Unfortunately, by that point, it was too late. There had been too much pressure built up in the well and the emergency disconnect didn’t actually cut the well.

11 people died.

This is the impact of having a team that’s at Level 1 (Tell me what to do.) They won’t stretch to Level 6 (This is what I need to do) when you need them to.

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge.


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