Battle friction and uncertainty with simplicity and individual initiative
October 8, 2013
In the army, we always tried to keep our plans and their execution as simple as possible. There are two main reasons for this. First, the friction and uncertainty of any undertaking is directly proportional to the complexity of its implementation. The more complexity and complication, the greater the likelihood that something will go wrong or be misunderstood by those who must put the plan into action. Second, it is impossible to foresee all eventualities and potential scenarios. This is why everyone involved needs to understand the mission and objectives, as well as the overarching plan, so they can reinterpret it and exercise their initiative in the face of changing circumstances and evolving threats and opportunities. Mission command and decentralized decision-making in implementation provide the managerial and leadership framework to encourage and leverage individual initiative toward the attainment of organizational objectives.
Are your plans and operations simple or complicated? Would they lead to greater or lesser potential for friction? Do you have processes and procedures in place to reduce or mitigate friction? Can your followers exercise their initiative within the overarching framework of your plans and systems?
Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.
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