Business can be a minefield, which is why employing a military mindset can be one of the most effective ways to direct your teams.
Strategies from the battlefield don’t sound like the natural choice for top-level business leaders, but successful companies actually share more common ground than you think with the US Marines Corps, says Kate L Harrison, writing for Inc.com.
She has checked out the advice of former Marines combat correspondent Shawn Rhodes – now an inspirational management consultant and TEDx speaker – and found some solid ideas to back up that unlikely connection.
As an observer on the ground in war zones across the globe, Shawn was well placed to take an overview of the techniques and habits of commanding officers and translate them for the business world.
Could Marines tactics apply to your company?
Here are some of the important points Shawn believes can help you as a leader:
1) Detailed planning. Shawn says that at every level the most common reason for difficulties executing a project is failure to make and follow a meticulous plan. He advocates asking for input from experienced team members to avoid pitfalls and secure a successful outcome.
Shawn says: “No combat unit would dream of telling their troops: go take that hill. Instead, they examine resources, assess threats to success, and arrange who is going to do what, with whom and by when.”
2) Careful briefing. Preparation is vital to every mission the Marines undertake and this applies equally to business projects. Spending a little time to make sure everyone on the team is fully informed of your goals and has the directions to achieve them – particularly as plans inevitably change along the way – will pay dividends. Shawn says: “Briefing teams in a business environment doesn’t take more than a few minutes, but it can save hours, as well as a lot of money, if it's done correctly.”
3) Precise focus. It’s easy to stray off the path if you are not sure where your priorities lie; for Marines this can be a life or death issue. Clearly communicating the ranking of each part of your strategy will ensure the most vital things are done first, with the rest following in relevant order. Shawn says: “Whether it’s earning revenue or providing great customer service, when employees know what their primary target is, they can nail it before moving on to less important tasks.”
4) Effective debriefing. At the end of a mission or campaign Marines always meet to discuss what was achieved and how so that lessons are learned for the future and new knowledge can be rolled out as part of ongoing team training. Shawn says: “If we encounter a new tactic on the battlefield, Marines share that in their after-action meetings, which are then shared with every other Marine across the world. That makes it impossible to catch us by surprise twice.”
The Marines may still sound like unlikely advisors for your business, but adopting these battlefield techniques could certainly foster better team collaboration and give you a fighting chance to achieve the results you want.