Operational Psychology and Planning Ahead

Winston Churchill said “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” So often human nature is to focus on what is right in front of us. The next Facebook post. The next basketball game. The next drink. What happens when we start moving our thoughts to the future? What happens when we take advantage of more advanced planning?

When it comes to business continuity planning one must consider where there are missing puzzle pieces. A 2004 study by the New York Academy of Medicine highlighted an enormous mistake made many leaders and decision-makers. “Research shows that even if the nation gets all of [logistics, equipment, etc.] right, the plans that are being developed now are destined to fail because they are missing an important piece of the puzzle: how the American public would react to these kinds of emergency situations,” (Lasker, 2004). What about human behavior? This is the missing puzzle piece of the plan.

One of the most important parts in creating and implementing successful plans is taking into consideration human behavior. Using the assumptions of what people are most likely to do or not do allows for proper planning. This is where operational psychology comes in. “The focus of operational psychology is to provide psychological knowledge, skills, and abilities to operational missions,” (Palarea, 2007). Utilizing the psychological concepts for their tactical value is operational psychology. The translation of behavior to operator is what the operational psychologist does.

In order for a plan to be most effective the human behavior must be taken into account. So let us think in advance and plan ahead. What is your emergency power plan?

Roz D. Lasker, Redefining Readiness: Terrorism Planning Through the Eyes of the Public, (The New York Academy of Medicine), September 2004, i-v.

Russell E. Palarea, Operational Psychology: An Emerging Discipline, (AP-LS News), Fall 2007, 9-11.

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