Rehearsing plans and scenarios and practising future actions give a foretaste of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior as well as those of competitors, clients, and other stakeholders.

These techniques give you greater presence of mind once you go into action. They help you develop a baseline against which to compare your eventual performance. You can rehearse mentally or through simulated interactions with others. High-level athletes do such “visioning” to get into the right mindset before performing.

In the military, rehearsals are built into planning and battle preparation procedures at all levels. There are various approaches, such as war games, “chalk talks,” “walk throughs,” tabletop exercises, and many others.

Here is what you can do:

  • Imagine at least three different scenarios and their potential consequences.
  • Picture the events or interactions, their surroundings, actors, possible action-reaction-counteraction sequences, decisions, obstacles, and outcomes.
  • Develop “what if” contingency plans to deal with these.
  • Practise the words you will use and your behavior; try to predict the emotions that will arise when you are in the situation.
  • Consider how you will react in each step of the scenario.
  • You can do this alone, with one other person, or with your entire team.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Military leaders learn to “put troops to task” when they are making their battle plans. In simple terms, you may want something to happen, but unless you assign specific tasks and responsibilities to people, along with resources and timelines, things are likely not to get done. So, unless you believe your followers are capable of mind-reading, or you believe in miracles, make sure they know what you expect of them.

  • Specify your overall aim so people know what you want to achieve.
  • Identify key roles and functions.
  • Assign these to specific individuals with clear responsibility to achieve concrete, measurable outcomes.
  • Assign ressources and ask those you’ve tasked to ensure these are sufficient. Tell them to analyze their options and request additional ressources if required.
  • Confirm understanding of your outline plan and key responsibilities.
  • Have them brief their plans back to you so you know they are doing what you want them to.
  • Have them coordinate details amongst themselves and inform you of any major impacts on the overall intent and plan so you can modify if needed.
  • Detail constraints (thou shalt) and restraints (thou shalt not) so they know their “limits of exploitation.”
  • Always end your meetings or planning sessions with a record of decisions, assigned tasks and responsibilities, and next actions/events/milestones.
  • Talk with your immediate subordinates’ followers so you know if they have understood the tasks of the team and can execute them.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  • You learn more by moving than by staying put. The normal impulse is to stay put and defend your position when you don’t know where to go or what to do. Unfortunately, this leaves you open to rapid change in the market as well as competitive threats. Moving gradually into a new market or a new product or service category gives you time to learn and adjust your approach without over-investing at the beginning. You also get to pull back if, as often happens, you’ve made a mistake or misjudged the situation.
  • Advance on a wide (or wider) front. It’s best to send scouting parties to report back about the lay of the land and the enemy’s positions, then to follow up with more forces if you’re successful. In business, this can mean trying many, small experiments with new products or markets to see what will happen, and then preserving those that succeed.
  • Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. If you can’t make accurate and timely predictions to know what will succeed in the long run then it stands to reason that you need to diversify investments and assets. This doesn’t mean becoming a conglomerate. It is preferable to experiment in a controlled manner at the edges of the business while using profits in existing business lines to fuel that exploratory work.
  • Always cover your moves. When I was a young infantry officer, we were taught to cover our moves with a firebase that could provide support in case we came under enemy fire. It’s better to move gradually over time into a new market or with a new strategy by small steps. This can be done remarkably quickly if you keep up the pressure by making incremental changes in a deliberate and consistent manner.
  • Reinforce success with backup forces. Once you have made it through the enemy’s front lines, apply resources to reinforce the initial breakthrough. The same notion applies to experimental business efforts. Success with one or some of them can be reinforced with new resources or with resources transferred from existing business lines. The result can be better positioning for the future.
  • Maintain reserves to exploit success. All of these principles require some level of resources, first to experiment and then to reinforce success by investing in the winners. This requires the maintenance of cash reserves or access to capital either from an existing business line, by borrowing, or by attracting new investors.
    I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Review your progress

Posted: July 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

What’s so “brilliant” about that manoeuvre? Too many times we launch into execution and continue doing so but we omit the important step of periodically reviewing our progress.
Things can change. There can be a new competitor, a new product, new economic factors coming into play. One of the military methods I teach my clients is mission analysis. The last step in the simplified process is to evaluate the situation on a regular basis and to ask, “Has the situation changed?” If yes, then it’s time to review and update plans and execution.
Most executives and entrepreneurs focus on material factors such as budget, sales targets, income, cash flow, etc. Those are essential, but the following questions will allow you to probe a little deeper:

  • Are our/my objectives still relevant?
  • Has the political, economic, social environment evolved since we started implementing?
  • Is there new or different competition?
  • How have competitors reacted or adjusted to our moves?
  • Have competitors undermined our positioning, requiring an update to our strategy?
  • Are buyers and clients reacting as expected to our overtures?
  • Are our starting assumptions still valid? This is critical, because assumptions are what allow planning and execution to procede in the face of uncertainty and risk.
  • Can we validate these assumptions and adjust our plans in light of the new situation?
  • How have our tactics been working? If they haven’t, then they must be adjusted. Never continue on a track that isn’t working.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Leadership is the art of influencing others in the accomplishment of a task or mission.

Many people automatically default to using rewards and punishments and various other forms of transactional leadership to influence followers and subordinates. The problem with this though is that people habituate quickly to rewards and punishments (assuming the latter aren’t extremely abusive). It’s like jumping into a swimming pool. There can be an initial shock of cold or pleasurable cooling sensation, but you get used to it fairly quickly. Once people are habituated to transactional leadership tactics, they tend to fade into the background and lose their effectiveness.

Another problem with transactional approaches to leadership is that they can initiate an unintended train of cause and effect. If you promise bonuses to your sales people so they focus on clearing out inventory of a particular product, you shouldn’t be surprised if they focus almost exclusively on that to the detriment of other products and services.

Leading from the inside out involves finding what motivates people internally, and working to either modify or leverage those intrinsic motivations. Here are some key approaches for “leading from the inside out.”

  • Lead by example.
  • Say what you do, and do what you say.
  • Give people the end state, overarching vision, and goals, and let them find the best way to achieve these (assuming legality and reasonable standardization of processes and procedures). In other words, specify what to achieve, not how to achieve it.
  • Involve people in setting goals and the overall vision, if relevant.
  • Let people define their own contributions and mission statement.
  • Provide resources and inputs subject to the requests and needs of subordinates.
  • Give them as much situational information as feasible within the constraints of business secrecy and personal confidentiality.
  • Find what makes each of your direct subordinates or followers tick, what their strengths personal goals are, what their personal preferences are, then try to assign them tasks and responsibilities that will leverage these and stretch their capabilities.
  • Give people general functional responsibilities and let them figure out the details.
  • Ask for their advice on important matters, not just trivial ones (sales planning vs the color scheme in the break room).

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Some of you may be old enough to remember Nancy Reagan’s plea to “just say no” to drugs. If only it were that easy for those who are mired in dependency. The same thing goes for strategy and other aspects of management and leadership. We often end up doing things or acquiescing to commitments that we should just turn down, or outright refuse to do. Ask yourself these questions before deciding to do something or make a commitment:

  • How does it contribute to my major goal(s)?
  • Do I even know what my major goals are?
  • Can I delegate it to someone I trust or MUST I do it myself?
  • Does it contribute to my brand, repute, mission, vision?
  • Do I believe it is useful and will actually work?
  • Am I just going through the motions?
  • Do I WANT to do it or commit to it?
  • Am I just trying to placate others?
  • Am I just trying to please others, or trying to “fit in,” or doing what I believe is expected of me?
  • Who is asking me to do it? Do I respect their judgment and opinion? If not, then I need to get another opinion or give more consideration to MY needs and values.

There are probably more questions to ask yourself, but I’m sure you can see where I going with these…

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

You might find this hard to believe, but SIMPLICITY is actually a key principle of military strategy and tactics. Complication increases the probability of friction, and friction increases the chances of failure, or massive confusion.

How do you know you’ve achieved simplicity? Simple: People can readily explain things back to you in their own words without error or misunderstanding. Whether it’s your overall intent, vision, mission, or detailed plans, ALL of your employees should be able to respond to the questions, “What are we doing here and what is your part in it? What happens if you can’t fulfill your part of the plan?” In business terms, this also includes the ability to quickly articulate how the client is better off by buying your products or services or doing business with you.

Here are some quick tips to keep things simple:

  • Give people your overall intent and tell them WHAT you would like them to contribute and WHY it’s important.
  • Let them figure out the best WAY to achieve their tasks and outcomes.
  • Focus on outcomes, not inputs.
  • Follow the rule of three: Only rarely should you give more than three major tasks or outcomes to someone. Limit their span of responsibility and control to three subordinates.
  • Break complex plans and tasks into smaller pieces and assign them to separate teams and leaders. Apply the rule of three.
  • Assign clear lines of authority and responsibility. Ensure people are accountable.
  • Assign major resources to teams and leaders but let them figure out and coordinate the details.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.