Radar Saved The World

Safi Bahcall has an interesting story in his recent book Loonshots about the use of radar in WWII.

The allies were losing the fight at sea against the well know U-boats of Germany. They were sinking more boats every month than could be built. As a result, Britain was down to 3 months of oil…and most likely in a position where they were3 months from Germany taking over Western Europe.

Imagine what our world would look like today if that happened?

It wasn’t until someone dusted off microwave radar that everything changed. Over the subsequent 4-week period, Hitler lost 1/3 of his U-boat fleet; more than any other year prior. Planes were flying over the sea and bringing down U-boats like a fish in a barrel. 6 weeks later, Germany pulled back all U-boats as the battle had been lost in the Atlantic.

The rest is history…


  • Was this a new innovative tool that someone created to win the war?
  • How much testing (UAT testing) did the Navy need to go through to make this happen?

We invented radar over a decade, 18 years, before it was used…  

More questions:

  • Why didn’t we use it sooner?
  • What were the roadblocks?
  • Who from legal said, “No!”?
  • How many lives were lost due to leaving this innovative technology sitting on the shelf?

This story really brings to life the saying, “what got you here won’t get you there.”

This Pandemic has proven this in many ways. The traditional structure and mindset of modern business is great at managing and driving people to work within a box, primarily based on the rules that were written and proven years ago. But that model has been exposed…

“The businesses that will be successful will be the ones that learn how to operate and embrace the innovations that exist today and those yet to be created…”

They will learn how to move quickly and take risks in order to keep their business alive. They will remove roadblocks and challenge the status quo in order to keep their companies relevant in an ever-evolving world. They will question the naysayers in their organization. They will test and fail quickly. More importantly they will deploy quickly when success is perceived, not proven. Perfection will derail your progress. Even Apple deploys their new iPhone software every fall, knowing that issues will come up.

In this new world those that choose to beg for forgiveness vs. ask for permission will win.

What innovations are you sitting on that could change the battle you are fighting and turn the results of the war?

A) How many still are not embracing mobility with their workforce?

Many businesses during this pandemic have been left with old methods to communicate and as result are not reaching their workforce. With more than 90% of the United States using smart phones as the primary source to access the internet, why wouldn’t more business embrace mobile usage? For example, which is more important…not telling your associate to come in because the hours of the store have changed or not paying the compensable time for looking at their schedule on their phone?


  • Communication is falling flat or being lost all together.
  • Shifts in the essential (very busy) locations are not being filled because repeated phone calls to the associate aren’t picked-up and/or returned vs. having a mobile tool that will manage it.
    •  Maybe that is why toilet paper is empty on the shelf… no staff to stock it?
  • Associates aren’t knowledgeable about the change in operations because many businesses are still reliant on an outdated LMS tool, where memos and sitting in front of a computer for 15 minutes is the way it has always been done.
  • The list goes on…

B) How many have been holding onto an omni strategy: pick up in store, pick up at curb, delivery, etc. for months waiting for testing to prove it is vital or profitable?

  • Some retailers have feared Amazon for years and have continuously lost market share to them. Some haven’t been concerned because online was only 5% of their business and they deemed themselves so special that nothing could take it away. Both examples have unfortunately exposed what happens when businesses don’t embrace change or risk… now those business run the risk of closing for good

No one knows what business will look like after COVID-19, but the businesses that that looked at innovation and ran with it will rise from the ashes of this pandemic, stronger and ultimately more successful…

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Wes Stanfield has over 20 years’ experience in Retail Operations, HR, Finance and IT. Managing Fortune 500 retail stores before he graduated high school, Wes has been in every role imaginable throughout a Retail organization. He is now a Senior Director at Connors Group overseeing our Workforce Optimization Team responsible for software. Wes uses his wealth of experiences across his career to helping clients get the best innovative results out of their workforce. He can be reached at [email protected]

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