Thursday, Jul 07, 2022 | Last Update : 01:43 AM IST

  Life   More Features  23 Jul 2018  Management lessons from Thailand cave rescue

Management lessons from Thailand cave rescue

Published : Jul 23, 2018, 12:34 am IST
Updated : Jul 23, 2018, 12:34 am IST

The 13-day long rescue mission showcases important lessons for all entrepreneurs and managers.

The team found themselves trapped within the web of the caves and had to brave darkness, hunger, thirst and most horribly the possibility of death.
 The team found themselves trapped within the web of the caves and had to brave darkness, hunger, thirst and most horribly the possibility of death.

It all began with an extra bit of adventure on June 23, when 12 teenage soccer players with their coach decided to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand, beyond tourist limits. Little did they know that they won’t be seeing the sun for the next 13 days. The team found themselves trapped within the web of the caves and had to brave darkness, hunger, thirst and most horribly the possibility of death. The treacherous incident that riveted people around the world also saw a number of world’s best divers and cave experts, volunteers and organizations come together to orchestrate the rescue operation. It also unfolded many exemplary lessons of strong management skills and selfless efforts where the careful coordination and strategy led to a successful mission. Here are the takeaways from the dramatic rescue.

Increase the Graph of Kindness
There are two types of graphs in any country or organisation’s graph. One is of the crime and other is of the graph of kindness. By thinking positive and serving to the country, one can surely push the kindness graph upwards. Crime rates are increasing because we think like that and hence there is a need to think about kindness the way Thai government did. These kids were not soldiers or the players of the national team, but normal citizens, and yet the rescue team effortlessly worked to save them all and so did the people of the country. That’s how you show your kindness.  Every leader must know about the graph of kindness and help others. By this, the country has set up an example for all the nations,  raising their graph of kindness.
—N Raguraman
Management Expert

Focus on teamwork
The exemplary effort teaches us inter-departmental coordination with excellent communication. Crisis management along with multiple plans should be drafted keeping the operational difficulties in mind and then executing it in the best possible way. Man-machine coordination is essential, as technology will minimise the risk of potential loss. Another aspect that came out well was the teamwork of the children when they voluntarily allowed the weakest teammates to go first. This pure feeling of belongingness could be one of the biggest strengths of any organization or society. Follow up is another important lesson. After the rescue operation was done, the planning started for not letting any such incident to happen again. This follow-up is an extremely important managerial skill.
—Bhavya Soni
 Management Professor

Be positive and rational
By the time you know that a rescue team is coming, you are sitting at the death row. You develop violent behaviours and it is human nature. But none of them lost hope and that’s what everyone should learn. Whichever situation you are in, you should never lose hope otherwise the rational thinking goes wrong and you can’t cope up with the situation.
—Alpes Panchal
Consultant Psychiatrist

Take risks
Despite non-clarity on the extent of the rescue mission, including the exact location of the children and coach in the caves, the management took the risk of not focusing on success or failure, but to respond to the situation with planning. This is something we all should learn. The episode displays the ability to know the variable checkpoints if they lead to success and failure. It gave away a lesson that a strong decision making, execution expertise and chain management can lead you to positive results. And the foremost thing that a leader should know is the collaborative skills to keep the fellow mates motivated at the time of crisis.
—Ashish Sharma
Assistant Vice President Operations

Lead by example
The selection of the right leadership and maintenance of the momentum is very important. You can’t lose focus and it should be planned well, keeping all the possibilities in mind. From an armed force perspective, I would say one should lead with personal examples. Second, the aim has to be clear to the entire team and this is clearly visible in the entire rescue operation too. Third, by keeping the plan simple, it will help you focus on what you do. Fourth, dividing the work and delegation is very important. After the rescue, the work did not end there and after-rescue strategy was also in place when the kids were taken to a hospital. Fifth and the most important learning and observation are that no one is trying to take publicity out of the operation. Everyone has participated in the rescue as their job, like this a leader should not be a world of mouth, but his actions should speak.
—Retired Colonel Amardeep Singh
Indian Army

Be Transparent
In the entire process, we must observe the effective communication that they used to coordinate with the team and with other countries. There was no rumour flying around and at the same time, decisions taken were in everyone’s knowledge. That’s how you manage the transparency and diplomacy to get your work done successfully. The planning took them 11 days, but many actions were taken at the same time to respond to the unpredictable situations. So, real-time decision-making is another skill that we all should implement in our work and daily life.
—Sunny Chandani
Assistant Manager Operations

Keep calm
The entire rescue is an eye opener for Government as well as for the individuals. It teaches us to keep our mind at peace and plan the strategies and take right decisions. Rather than accusing others, we have to focus on our contribution and even seek help from others. India’s help to Thailand was immense and Thai people’s support too was praiseworthy. Rather getting involved in discussions, it is important that we focus and plan our work than building up the incident as publicity and accusation deal.  
—Nitin Chhadwa,
50, Businessman

Tags: thailand cave rescue, crisis management, human nature