As Is


This is a photo of one of the hundreds of landing ships carrying American soldiers into battle with the invasion of Normandy, France, June 1944. They are sitting there as is. They are ready to disembark as is. Their first step on the European continent–and in many cases that will be their last step in life–will be as is.

The as-is organization can do remarkable things, just like these brave soldiers did in the summer of 1944.

I’m talking with a client about using this story for their team. Here’s the deal–when the Allies planned and executed Operation Overlord and invaded the German-held French coast in Normandy, they acted from largely an “as-is” status. It’s true, they had training for the landing, they had scraped together special equipment for the landing, they had received a carefully crafted plan for the landing. Those things weren’t “as-is”; they represented unique abilities and capacities developed above and beyond their existing condition. Nevertheless, the Allied units in Overlord often had inexperienced officers, had incorrect assumptions of what they would experience, and lacked the extent and degree of equipment that they really needed to make it work successfully. They were as much as-is as they were primed and especially readied.

None of that as-is reality, however, prevented them from doing what they did. It didn’t prevent key leaders like Dwight Eisenhower or Frederick Morgan from planning and conceptualizing. It didn’t prevent thousands of ordinary infantry soldiers–the corporals, the privates, and all the rest–from extraordinary accomplishments in those first hours on the Normandy beaches, terrifying times where in many cases they improvised and created on their own.

So my point to you is to accept the as-is and move ahead with bold plans. Don’t insist on linking bold plans to whatever that “next” critical thing that we don’t currently have arrives. Do as much preparation and improvement as you can with your team members to make it work properly, but don’t expect the total elimination of the “as-is” nature of your followers. They can do great things as is.


  1. Great post. One of my favorite scenes is from the movie Saving Private Ryan, which mimicked that picture. It captures in only a few seconds the horror and chaos of war, as well as the way leaders emerge and take charge, as well as the way truly effective non-leaders (like the sergeant), motivate as followers. Well-chosen for the point you’re making!

  2. Kregg Kiel says

    Great piece, Dan.

    I have a (now) late uncle who managed to survive that day, as well as the remainder of the war, so I can relate to what kind of things he ran into outside of the “as-is” – having spoken to him about that day on a few occasions.

    Lesson to take away: “As-is” planning/training attempts to remove as many of the “non-as-is” conditions as possible, but it cannot remove them completely. An inadequate version of this planning/training can actually have the opposite impact on the event in focus.

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