Monday, June 18, 2007

Planning a Mission

In the book Flawless Execution: Use the Techniques and Systems of America's Fighter Pilots to Perform at Your Peak and Win the Battles of the Business World, James D. Murphy shares a six-step process for mission planning.

The Six Steps to Mission Planning

  • Step 1. Determine the Mission Objective. A mission objective has to be clear, measurable, and believable.
  • Step 2. Identify the Threats. In this step, you identify your internal and external threats.
  • Step 3. Identify Your Available Resources. This includes people, money, systems, technologies, products, clients, time, known strengths, services or skills of the team that negate your threats or help you accomplish your objective.
  • Step 4. Evaluate the Lessons Learned. This step is where you use the experiences of someone who's been there before.
  • Step 5. Determine Courses of Action/Tactics. This step is where you develop menus of possible courses of action. This is where you develop a timeline, including who does what when. This is where you develop a decision matrix. This is also where you take your plan apart and attempt to defeat it.
  • Step 6. Plan for Contingencies. This is where you create detailed scripted responses for possible events.

Key Take Aways
Personally, I find this approach very consistent with how I perform my missions at work. I always start by clarifying what we want to accomplish in terms of objectives and outcomes. Knowing what can go wrong and having fallback positions is a key to success. Leveraging past experience helps avoid or repeast past mistakes. I play out a few possible courses and look for the best fit within the criteria. Probably the biggest distinction with the approach above is that I tend to use a constraint-driven model, particularly using time, and then figuring out how to deliver value within that time.

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