Archive for win

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome ~ Changing Plans, But Not Changing Vision

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

*The following was inspired by a post by the late Timothy F. Bednarz on his blog, Leaders to Leader, entitled, “Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance.”

Footnote (in advance of reading this post):  In the context of this article, when I speak of a ‘leader,’ I am referring to a leader at all levels; not necessarily the commander, CEO or department head.  Empowered followers are the key to implementing and accomplishing plans at all levels of the organization.

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Plan for Victory ~ Expect to Win

A vision or goal (short-term / long-term) is where the organization sees itself in the future.  It is a desired result that an organization plans and commits to achieve.  To move towards these results requires planning and goal-setting.  These time-targeted plans should be specific, measurable, realistic and attainable to achieve each objective along the path towards the vision.  The anticipated results guide reactions, according to various successes and failures, as the organization maneuvers towards the objective (vision).  From these plans, a leader must ensure that participants have a clear awareness of what they must do to achieve an objective.

In the military, they call this the Commander’s Intent; the stated description of the end-state as it relates to forces (entities, people), the purpose of the operation, and key tasks to accomplish the mission.  This blog will discuss, more specifically, Commander’s Intent, and mission planning & accomplishment, After Action Reviews (AAR’s), etc., another time.  But, the blog, PurpelINK, defines and discusses Commander’s Intent very well:

A soldier’s every move is predicated upon hours of forethought and planning. After the commander-in-chief approves the order of battle, a soldier will find his personal orders specifying the scheme of maneuver and field of fire. Each battalion is told what to do, what materiel to use, and how to set up supply lines to replace its munitions.

There’s only one problem: no plan survives contact with the enemy because the enemy always gets a vote. Consider the variables; [a weather change], a key military asset is destroyed after it is deployed [etc]. In short, the enemy is unpredictable.

The beautiful thing about knowing the [Commander’s Intent] is that it means your plans are never rendered obsolete by the unpredictable. You may lose the ability to execute the plan (involving the timing of men and materiel), but you never lose the responsibility of executing the Commander’s Intent.

[Commander’s Intent] manages to align the behavior of soldiers at all levels of the army without requiring detailed instructions from the High Command. If you know the intention of the order, you are free to improvise to arrive at its fulfillment. If people know the intent, they can engineer their own solutions to accomplishing the task.

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An organization’s history of past accomplishments (or failures), and the acquisition of desired (or poor) results, obviously influences the plans and strategies of the future.  When we are successful, we build on the plans that made us successful in the achievement of certain goals and objectives.  But when we fail, we tend to throw away those plans.  Sometimes we even adjust our overall objective; subtly, or sometimes dramatically.  But, changing our vision and our ultimate goal is the wrong thing to do if you intend to grow, improve and become successful and victorious.

For example, an Army might put their efforts into creating plans that become useless once the enemy is engaged.  Companies do the same thing when they implement initiatives and strategies that are poorly planned out or executed.  But, one should be reluctant to throw aside entire plans because of those failures, or by falling short of mission.  On the contrary, using lessons learned, one should assess the capabilities of their resources (people, material, finances, etc.) that contributed to those results, correct the weaknesses and gaps in performance, and then adjust the plan, re-allocating and reassigning resources to be better utilized for future actions and plans.  Maybe the people, or the team, responsible for certain results were not afforded all of the tools necessary to succeed.  Or, the people were not properly appointed the right tasks to drive towards the desired results; individuals weren’t assigned tasks according to their talents.

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Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

The United States Marine Corps calls it, “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.”  The Marine Corps has been successful employing this concept mostly because of the creativity of its people and their success-based attitude.  During the chaos of battle and the implementation of plans according to the Commander’s Intent, they must find what works, or people die, equipment is lost, and the battle is lost.  For the Marine Corps, the whole notion of improvise, adapt and overcome becomes second nature.  For companies and organizations, what worked last year does not work this year, and what works now is a radical departure from what worked last year.  They must improvise, adapt and overcome.

My point is that past results should never change your vision.  Yes, you should plan according to past lessons learned.  But, a good leader will never hesitate as a result of, or be intimidated by, past failure.  And, a good leader will never change their vision for the future as a result of those failures.  The future vision or goal must remain the same, never changing because of the past.  One must have the courage to change according to those failures, yet not change their mindset because of those failures. The past can tell you a lot.  But don’t let it tell you to reverse course.

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A good leader will:

  • Align the capabilities of people and resources based on the past, not in spite of it.  They will match the people to the tasks according to skill level and proficiency
  • Manage and monitor time to efficiently and effectively achieve the planned mission
  • Adjust milestones & short-term goal targets, and determine the feasibility of certain objectives
  • Frequently assess, reconsider and change according to the circumstances they are facing
  • Improvise according to the availability and reliability material (supplies, equipment, etc.)
  • Acquire and/or properly allocate the tools needed to achieve short and long-term results
  • Teach, and at the same time learn, the knowledge necessary to improve and succeed, sometimes based on the conditions at the time; gaining feedback, recommendations and reviewing solutions, etc.
  • Implement the plan by breaking it down from a big job into little jobs, and delegate those jobs accordingly

Finally, throughout any situation that requires action and/or change, it is important for any leader to remain optimistic, to be proactive and to cultivate passion.

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Here are my recommendations for making plans based on past performance:

1) Set tasking according to capabilities

2) Your vision (Commander’s Intent) should never change, but your plans must

3) Don’t let short-term setbacks blur your long-term vision

4) ‘Change’ is the only thing that remains the same throughout an organization

5) You might miss your target, but as long as you’ve adjusted and improved your tactics (based on Improvise, Adapt and Overcome), you’re making progress.

6) Remain motivated.  Failure is a hard thing to deal with, but the taste of success (victory) is sweet.

7) Never give up.  You may have failed to reach your target, but as long as you have learned from your mistakes and have acknowledged the lessons learned, you’re making progress and one step closer to victory!

*Inspired by a post on Timothy F. Bednarz‘s blog, Leaders to Leader, entitled, “Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance.”

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Sources –

“Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” – Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 – http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/improvise-adapt-overcome/52001 – Accessed 23 July 2012 – Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity – http://peakprosperity.com/

“Commander’s Intent” – Posted Friday, August 1, 2008 – http://washelby.blogspot.com/2008/08/commanders-intent.html – Accessed 23 July 2012 – PurpelINK – http://washelby.blogspot.com/

“Goal” – Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – Last Modified on 21 July 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goal – Accessed 23 July 2012 – Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/

“Commander’s Intent” – Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – Last Modified on 24 March 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intent_(military)#Commander.E2.80.99s_Intent – via “Intent (Military)”  at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intent_(military) – Accessed 23 July 2012 – WikiPedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/

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Related Articles –

Listen, Learn…Then Lead

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Stanley McChrystal (as seen on TED.com)

The Video of the Week

(scroll down to see today’s video)

With a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal has been praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. McChrystal’s leadership of JSOC is credited with the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the June 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor.

After McChrystal graduated from West Point, he was commissioned as an infantry officer, and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and in 2000 at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe. He assumed command of all International Forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war there. McChrystal retired from the military in August 2010.

In the following video from TED.com, General McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure. Some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in this discussion are:

1) If your people do everything you taught them to do, and they do those things properly, you led them well. People follow leaders.

2) Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.

3) Leaders build confidence and trust in their people. And, those who you are leading have to have faith and trust in the leader. Leaders have to build faith, trust and confidence.

4) In failure, the leader must reach out to his force and rebuild trust and confidence…rebuilt confidence in the force, rebuilt confidence in the leader, and rebuilt confidence in the seniors of the leader and the force.

5) A leader must build consensus and a sense of shared purpose with his force.

6) How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people their leading are doing? Leaders must become more transparent and a lot more willing to listen.

7) Keep your promises and live up to your obligations; to your subordinates, your peers and your superiors. Be ready to support them when they need you most.

8) A leader isn’t good because he is right. They’re good because their willing to learn, and to trust. If you are a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And, if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

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Sources –

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Listen, Learn…Then Lead: Stanley McChrystal on TED.comhttp://blog.ted.com/2011/04/05/listen-learn-then-lead-stanley-mcchrystal-on-ted-com/

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Stanley McChrystal’s Profile on TED.com – “Stanley McChrystal: Military leader”http://www.ted.com/speakers/stanley_mcchrystal.html

Leadership Principles

Posted in Leadership, Principles, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Leadership in Battle

Hal MooreConsidered one of the top battlefield commanders in world history, Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (US Army Retired) established his place in military history in 1965 when he led his vastly outnumbered troops to prevail in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.  Both on the battlefield and off, he has spent his lifetime studying and encouraging strong, principled leadership as a soldier and a human being.

The following video lays out Lt. Gen. Moore’s four main principles for a leader in battle.  Although they are discussed in the context of battlefield leadership, one can easily apply these leadership principles to a corporate environment by slightly adjusting the circumstances to a team or workplace scenario.  No matter if it is on a battlefield or in a corporate boardroom, leading a team to victory is the common goal.

Below are the four leadership principles for a leader’s conduct in battle, as discussed in the video:

1. Three strikes and you’re not out! There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.

There are two things a leader can do:

  • Contaminate his environment, and the unit, with his attitude and actions.

OR

  • He can inspire confidence.

A leader must be visible on the battlefield.  He must be self-confident, with a positive attitude, and exhibit confidence under any set of circumstances.  The determination to prevail must be felt by all, no matter what the odds or how desperate the situation.  He must have and display the will to win by his actions, his words, the tone of his voice, his appearance, his demeanor, his countenance, and the look in his eyes.  Instill the will to win. There can be no second-place trophies on display—awarded or accepted.

He must remain calm and cool; NO FEAR.  He must ignore the noise, the dust, smoke, explosions, screams of the wounded, the yells, and the dead lying around him; that is all normal.  He must not give off any hint or evidence that he is uncertain about a positive outcome; even in the most desperate of situations.

2. There’s always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.  And, after that, one more thing…and, after that, one more thing, etc., etc.

A leader must ask himself, “What am I doing that I should not be doing, and what am I not doing that I should be doing, to influence the situation in my favor?

3. A leader must always be ready! When there is nothing going wrong, there’s nothing going wrong except there is nothing going wrong.  That is when a leader should be most alert.

4. Trust your instincts.

In critical, fast-moving battlefield situations, Instincts and intuition give you an immediate estimation of a situation.  Your instincts are the product of your education, your reading, your personality, and your experience.  TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.  When seconds count, instincts and decisiveness come into play.  In quick, developing situations, the leader must act fast and part confidence to all around him; he must not second-guess the decision.  MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!  Face up to the facts, deal with them, and move on.

In addition, General Moore had a few more principles for military leaders to apply to their course of conduct:

  • Everything in leadership boils down to judgment. Intelligence and good character does not imply you have good judgment.
  • Study history and leadership qualities. Pay special attention to why leaders fail.
  • A person in a position of authority does not automatically become immediately respected or trusted. This is earned.
  • Every person in an organization is as important and necessary to a mission as the next person. That goes from the top to the bottom.
  • Never deprive a person of their self-respect. NEVER!
  • To do well in any field of endeavor, it is an advantage to work with good people.
  • Strive to have one or two people around you who are totally trustworthy.
  • Spend quality time with the team, learning who they are and what motivates them. Create a family.
  • Great leaders learn to lead themselves first. Before you can lead others, leading yourself successfully must be accomplished day in and day out.
  • Successful leaders create the future.
  • Leaders must lead. Be the first boots on the ground and the last boots off.

 

Never Fly Solo ~ Top Gun Success

Posted in Books, Inaugural Posts, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman (USAF Reserve)

This week, I have chosen a few videos featuring Lieutenant Colonel Rob “Waldo” Waldman; also known as “The Wingman.”  Colonel Waldman is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, and became a highly decorated fighter pilot with over 65 combat missions over Iraq and Serbia.  He holds an MBA with a focus on organizational behavior.  Now serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Waldo has become a professional business motivational speaker and consultant, and is the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller “Never Fly Solo.”  He teaches organizations and individuals how to build trusting, revenue producing relationships with their employees, partners, and customers, while sharing his experiences as a combat decorated fighter pilot and businessman.[i]

Col. Waldman’s philosophy: No fighter pilot flies solo, and neither should you.  You need Wingmen – trusted partners – to win when the missiles of life and business are launched.  Whether achieving victory as a fighter pilot or in business, the same qualities that ensure success apply: relentless commitment, disciplined training, dedicated teamwork, impassioned leadership, and most of all…trust.[ii]

When I came across the Never Fly Solo video that promotes his book, and other videos featuring his inspirational message, I was absolutely motivated and lifted.  I wanted to share his message with you.  I have posted five videos below that define Colonel Waldman’s Never Fly Solo message.  It will take you just under 20 minutes to view them all.  Each video has a common theme, but a different message and focus.  I encourage you to view each of them, and take what you learn from them and immediately apply the Never Fly Solo principles.

Never Fly Solo

The Wingman

Teamwork and Communication in Business

Team Building and Leadership

Motivational Wingman Video

I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of “Video of the Week.”  Remember, never fly solo, and protect your team from hidden dangers.  And, most importantly, become a wingman in everything you do; every person, every team, every day.  PUSH IT UP!!!

For more information on Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman, Check out www.YourWingman.com.  If you would like to order the book Never Fly Solo, please visit http://www.neverflysolo.com.  And, if you would like Col. Waldman to attend your next conference or convention, please visit http://bureau.espeakers.com/simp/viewspeaker6542.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


[i] “Meet Waldo.” Motivational Keynote Speaker : Business Speaker : Professional Speaker : Waldo Waldman: YourWingman.com.  Accessed 9 December 2011. http://www.yourwingman/about/

[ii] “Rob “Waldo” Waskman’s LinkedIn Profile.” http://www.linkedin.com/.  Accessed 9 December 2011

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