Don’t Worry, It will be done!
These are very comforting words full of positivity, but must not be taken at their face value; this is what I learnt the hard way during my long Army career. Not to sound a pessimist, but any one who utters these words instantaneously needs to be watched till the task is actually completed. I learnt this management lesson the hard way during command of my Regiment, the story runs as follows.
I along with my Signal Regiment was out for a major tactical exercise in the Western Sector of India. We were responsible for providing combat communication support to the Division involved in the field exercise and the General Officer Commanding had tremendous faith on me, in turn I had similar feelings for my Company Commanders and other officers. Everything was going fine till the final day of the exercise when I was asked by the GOC to provide telephone communications on the field cable for the Counter Attack Force as due to security reasons a complete radio silence was to be imposed till actual conduct of the counter attack. The field cable communications was to be in place by the midnight after which the actual manoeuvre was to take place which was to be seen by the Theatre ( Army ) Commander. These telephone communications were to be provided from the telephone exchange of a formation near to the location of the exercise area, where one of my Signal Company was deployed. Consequently I briefed my Company Commanders Lt Col ( Time Scale ) Inder Kumar to undertake the task and ensure that the communications were provided well before the stipulated time. He replied, ” Don’t worry Sir, It will be done.” I felt assured and comfortable with the positive attitude of my Company Commander. I thereafter forgot about it and took it for granted that the job would be done.
At about 9 PM, my GOC rang me up and asked if the cable communication was in place; I was so confidant of my officer that I simply confirmed it to him even without checking up. Thereafter I asked my telephone exchange to connect me to the formation exchange from where the above line was to be laid. To my horror the formation exchange operated by the Signal Company commanded by Lt Col Inder Kumar had no knowledge of such cable communication. Even Lt Col Inder Kumar was not traceable. This location was about 20 miles away from my Regimental Headquarters and now the panic had started setting in as the counter attack was to commence in next two hours and if that Force was not briefed on telephone by the GOC the result of the exercise would be a disaster. I had been literally taken for a ride with words, ” Don’t Worry, it will be done.” I just had less than two hours to set the things right. So I took the decision to take out a Jeep based line ( cable) laying party myself. I got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) ( a rank peculiar to the Indian Army rank status in between Officers and Men) and two linemen with cable stores and equipment and rushed to the exercise site during the night. With great difficulty we reached the Signal Company telephone exchange, nearly loosing our way in the dark and meeting with minor accidents and thereafter started laying the cable. I was personally helping the cable party to lay the cable and test the communications after every drum was laid. This is the job of a junior officer but I had no option but to do it myself as time was at a premium. By about 11.30 PM just before half an hour of the stipulated time we completed the job and I gave a call to my GOC stating that this was a test call from the exercise location and all the communications had been tied up. He was very happy to see me at the exercise location and personally checking up things ( He never came to know about the actual story).
Now that we had completed the task and we had not eaten anything , so I took the men to our Company’s cook house for dinner. Thereafter I proceeded to the Officer’s Mess of the Brigade so that I could eat something. There I found, Lt Col Inder Kumar sitting and drinking Rum. On seeing me he said in usual boisterous style, ” What a surprise, Sir, Welcome to the Brigade Mess, Have a drink.” I literally shouted at him and asked him as to why he had not laid the cable, the task which I had to do now. He replied, ” Oh my God, I thought that the cable is to be laid tomorrow, I am so sorry for the misunderstanding.”
I had learnt my management lesson that passing of orders is only 5% and ensuring that these are implemented by checking and cross checking is the balance 95%. I am now very sceptical and wary of the persons who without giving any thought to the details involved in the task just state, ” Don’t Worry, it will be done. ”