The Agile – Thai-cave rescue – autonomy, mastery, and purpose

Last night I was watching with Netflix on the couch with the kids. We came across a documentary about the Thai-cave rescue. A true story of an event that unfolded in Thailand during the monsoon season on June 23rd, 2018.

12 Thai boys and the coach were celebrating one of the boy’s birthdays by visiting the Tham Luang cave in Northern Thailand (10km Limestone cave) after finishing Soccer (football) training. Most of the time the cave stays relatively dry, unfortunately, in this instance, heavy rain passed through the area. The monsoon rain flooded a part of the cave trapping the 12 boys and the coach.

The rescue workers first responded followed by the Thai army. Water pumps were brought in quickly to pump out the water of a flooding cave, while a search for an alternative entrance into the cave was being made.

This rescue dominated the headlines on the news. It was a dramatic 18-day rescue as experts around the world rallied together to search and extract the survivors. They were racing against the clock with waters rising in the food running out.

This International rescue effort brought together specialist cave divers from around the world to navigate the Tham Luang cave system. A former Thai Navy SEAL died during this operation, which involved navigating narrow, submerged and pitch-black passageways.

Engineers from billionaire Elon Musk’s rocket firm Space Exploration Technologies Corp. built a high-tech, kid-sized submarine to aid in the rescue, but was not needed.

What I saw here was a purpose – a truly compelling reason ‘why‘ and ‘what‘ this is what we are doing.

The autonomy of the leadership, teams, and people rallying together towards this mission. How they were going to contribute to this cause from support staff crew, volunteers, engineers, medics and specialists.

The mastery of their skills used to contribute to this cause and collaborate towards this mission.

When the diving specialist arrived they came together with a collaborative perspective on the best approach to tackle the problem. Realising that a rescue mission like this has never been done before. 13 people through a 2.4 km dive to basecamp in a cave and diving rescue all in one.

It is easy to imagine and effort like this would really align with people over processes, collaboration over negotiations, solutions over documentation and responding to change over following a plan. It’s just something that got me thinking. So I’m going to leave it here…