The other day at a client, we were trying to describe what an outage manager does and a term from my time in the military came back to me, battle captain. The best description I could come up with for an outage manager was that they perform the same duties during an outage that a battle captain does for a unit in battle. For those non-military types, a battle captain resides in the tactical operations center (TOC) of a unit and take care of tasks such as tracking the battle, enforcing orders, managing information, and making decisions based on commander’s intent when the commander is unavailable. This is exactly what an outage manager does for an outage – keep track of the outage (timeline), follow up with people to make sure tasks are completed (i.e. investigate logs for errors), makes sure information is retained and passed along, and when the VP of Ops or CTO is briefing the CEO or on the phone with a vendor, the outage manager makes decisions.
From an atricle What Now, Battle Captain? The Who, What and How of the Job on Nobody’s Books, but Found in Every Unit’s TOC by CPT Marcus F. de Oliveira, Deputy Chief, Leaders’ Training Program, JRTC here is the definition of the role:
The battle captain should be capable of assisting the command group in controlling the brigade or battalion. Remember, the commander commands the unit, and the XO is the chief of staff; BUT, those officers and the S3 must rest. They will also get pulled away from current operations to plan future operations, or receive orders from higher headquarters. The battle captain’s role then is to serve as a constant in the CP, someone who keeps his head in the current battle, and continuously assists commanders in the command and control of the fight.
A great battle captain can provide a tactical advantage to units in combat. If you have a great outage manager or have seen one work, you know how important they can be in reducing the duration of the outage. Most outage managers have primary jobs such as managing a shift in the NOC or managing an ops team but when an outage occurs they jump into the role of an outage manager. If you don’t currently have an outage manager junior military officers (JMO) just leaving the service often make great ones.