Author: Rob Ffield

Congratulations to Boeing MQ-25 Phantom Works team on their win. It is the right platform with the right operational concepts for the Navy. CATSHOT Group is proud to have been a member of your team! Boeing has released the following comment on today's announcement: Boeing was awarded the engineering and manufacturing...

As part of our #FreeChapterFriday Series, CATSHOT Group is releasing a new chapter of Building a Culture to Win: Expanding the Frontier of Human Achievement. This week, we're looking at Chapter 4: Aligning The Team Below you can find the chapter in full. Enjoy!  
  “All Together Now – “Up We Go...” It is November, and we’re waiting to take off on our final show of the season in sunny Pensacola, FL. As Boss, I have the privilege of sitting in the #1 spot – smack dab in the middle of four shining blue and gold F/A-18 fighter jets at the end of the runway. My team and I are lined up in fingertip formation, which looks like the fingertips of your right hand. The Boss (#1) is your middle finger. The right wingman (#2) is the ring finger. The left wingman (#3) is the index finger, and the slot pilot (#4) is the pinky finger. As Boss, my job is to lead the team through voice calls that serve as the drummer of a rock band, creating and keeping a tempo that we can all follow. This synchronicity will allow all three Diamond wingmen to fly extremely close as all four of us execute our stick-and-throttle movements together. As I am given clearance to take off, I start my cadence: “We're cleared for takeoff, the winds are calm, check your parking brake off, check your trim set. Maneuver is Diamond Burner Loop with a right turn out.” The team acknowledges my commands. I then command the engine run up, “Let's run 'em up.” I look over to my right and left to receive a visual thumbs-up from each of my wingmen. “Smoke on... off brakes now... burners ready now,” I say as we begin the show. A huge cloud of air show smoke billows behind the formation, as the 36,000 pounds of thrust per aircraft has our body weight pushing us firmly against our seats. All four jets accelerate down the runway in very tight formation. Within a few seconds, we have reached 150 knots, as we begin to lift off. I call out several command bursts “Gear,” “A little drive,” “Up we go... a little more pulllll.” My team is in sync with my tempo, understanding that timing is everything. They know to keep pulling on the control stick until the last “L” in “pullll” is sounded. I sense the #4 jet move into the slot position behind me.

As part of our #FreeChapterFriday Series, every first Friday of the month, CATSHOT Group will release a new chapter of  Building a Culture to Win: Expanding the Frontier of Human Achievement. Click the link above and use the Promotional Code: "FreeChapterFridays" to purchase a discounted, full copy of the book! This week, we're looking at Chapter 3: Fostering Chemistry, Core Values, and Trust Below you can find the chapter in full. Enjoy!  
  Building a Better Team Early July 2002: The Day of Reckoning for the 15 Blue Angel candidates who made it to the final round of interviews for the 2003 team. As I sat at my desk in the hangar that housed the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 Hornets, I prepared for the hardest part of being the Boss – turning down 10 amazing candidates. Only five would survive. After the interviews ended just one week before, the finalists had each flown to their home base and were to call me at a prescheduled time to find out if they made it. Our team had been up almost all night the night before, deliberating. The decision was hard because our options were all so good. To be among the finalists is an honor in itself, as they represent the elite pilots, maintenance and supply officers, and flight surgeons from the Navy and Marine Corps. Some of them had been vying for the team for several years, and to be selected would have been the culmination of a lifelong dream. So, as I prepared for the phone calls to come, I remember thinking what a privilege it is to be able to handpick our team from such a talented pool. I was essentially living every CEO’s dream – we were selecting the most technically proficient Relentless Innovators, who also had the personalities, values and character that would make it fun and rewarding to tackle the incredible challenges we would face over the next year. We were going to succeed with style and have fun doing it. Chemistry: Creating a “Family” The deliberations during the selection process for both TOPGUN and the Blue Angels will always remain confidential. However, the results of the selection process are clear – we build an elite team whose members enjoy being together, even under the most stressful circumstances. Elite teams require extensive time to focus on becoming the best, both technically and culturally. This is true across the board from sports teams to industry. It certainly is true at the Blue Angels and TOPGUN. You need people who can create and maintain a positive reinforcing chemistry within the team. They get excited about tackling tough challenges together. The Blue Angels Diamond and Solo pilots are an extreme example. The six pilots spend almost every available hour of every day together from December through March. This is to just prepare for the show season.

Winning cultures are built around teams. And well-integrated, high-performing teams–those that “click”–never lose sight of the vision, the goals and objectives, and are largely self-sustaining. Why? Effective leadership. In my experience with TOPGUN and the Blue Angels, teams that “click” always have a leader, the “boss,”...