Everything has advantages and disadvantages, and no amount of hype and fashion-mania can eliminate that basic law of nature.

I’ve been reading (and rereading) books by Vaclav Smil. He’s a professor at University of Manitoba who is a world renowned expert on energy, energy flows, and modern industrial society. He analyzes claims about various industrial processes and energy conversions and uses in terms of their technicalities. More important, though, is that he highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options and practices. There is no “perfect” energy conversion or industrial process. All we have are positive effects and negative effects, cost and benefits, opportunities and risks.

This resembles the way I was trained to develop and assess tactical, operational, and strategic plans and manoeuvres in the Army. You first must know what your realistic options are. Then you develop them sufficiently to identify key advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits, and opportunities and risks. There is no free lunch, much less a perfect option or plan.

If someone comes along telling you they’ve got the perfect solution or a cost-free alternative, you’re better to treat them as a snake oil salesman, because what they’re selling is akin to a perpetual motion machine.

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Hierarchy often gets a bad rap. Aren’t we all supposed to be equal and collaborate toward common objectives? Political and social equality are definitely good things, but in a business or organizational setting, someone has to be in charge and responsibilities, accountabilities, authority, and resources must be allocated in a rational manner.

Hierarchy enables a thoughtful balancing of tasks, functions, and resources. When allocated according to authority and competency, we can optimize organizational efficiency and effectiveness while maximizing individual initiative and accountability. This aligns everyone in the organization to the realization of its vision and the accomplishment of its mission.

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

In the field of military strategy, it is well-known that the capacities to recognize changes in the environment and to react quickly thereto provide a considerable, if not essential advantage. The same capacities apply to business strategy.

I call these capacities strategic flexibility; they demand that one continually observe the environment in order make strategic corrections. Businesses that rest on their laurels or that ignore this need can be overtaken both by events and by their competitors.

This implies a quick, accurate method to make adjustments to strategy. Therefore, I propose a model of strategic flexibility I call the 7-M method. The method refers to the following: mission, market, mark targets, mass, manoeuvres, morale, and marketing. To these must be added the plan of action that successfully unites the efforts of stakeholders both upstream and downstream of the business in question.

  1. Mission is the distillation of what you offer the world and its value.  It’s what defines your unique competence and motivations and the needs you meet. A mission statement must communicate your intentions in a short, precise manner that can be understood by all concerned:  employees, customers, suppliers, and even competitors. The mission, therefore, serves as the guiding star for your business.
  2. Market represents the potential clients for your goods or services who might buy from you since you can meet their needs with good value in your products or services. Market include the target groups among your clients and their needs. Market also includes an analysis of current market suppliers and of the decision-making processes of potential customers in terms of their long-term, mid-term, and short-term goals. This permits opportunities to be exploited and possible risks to be minimized or avoided.
  3. Mark targets provide concrete objectives that can be measured as part of your action plan. The ultimate target for your business constitutes your vision of where you want to be, say, in a year- and-a-half or two years hence. From this vision one can identify a hierarchy of goals, tasks, and results to be obtained.
  4. Mass refers to the most economical and effective ways of concentrating resources in order to meet goals as quickly as possible. This requires an analysis of your key strengths and weaknesses in order to permit success in your market.
  5. Manoeuvre refers to the operations according to the elements of the action plan including ensuring that the necessary tools and resources are available to permit successful operations. This includes the delegation of responsibilities such that people have sufficient margin of manoeuvre so they can respond successfully to opportunities and threats in the environment.
  6. Morale refers to the willingness of people to persevere in order to reach goals. While the welfare and the happiness of employees is important, it is not the be-all-and end-all of your business. Clear vision, mission, and plans are the key to good morale. As well, clear-headed analyses of risks to the execution of strategy and action plans along with contingency plans permit the prevention and minimization of possible risks to success.
  7. Marketing is the last, but certainly not the least part of flexible strategy. It requires clear messages of internal and external communication. There are three elements to a good marketing plan: general marketing vis-à-vis the overall brand and image of the company; marketing campaigns designed to meet customer needs within given geographical territories; plans for business development and sales that will permit successful, long-term and repeated relationships with customers that also will lead to establishing a solid reputation and possible new clients.

The action plan is the key to success because a vision without the required resources and concrete actions is only a hallucination. The essential elements of a good action plan include: a description of the situation being addressed such that readers will understand the purpose of the plan; the mission statement; detailed activity and resource plans; support and administrative requirements; internal and external communication plans; and the assigning of responsibilities to key personnel.

Obviously, doing all the above without the aid of an experienced expert in strategic and operational planning and leadership will be difficult. I invite you to contact me with your questions and suggestion of businesses and people that might benefit from application of the 7-M method. In the meantime, start with a description of your mission statement and an analysis of your potential markets; performing these steps alone should provide you with immediate benefits.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2016. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

The answer is an unequivocal YES! It IS possible to create a plan of action in a single day, whether individually or as a team. You require focus and discipline to develop the following, which I call the 6 Ms of planning:

Mission – What is the unique value you bring to your clients and the marketplace?

Markets – What do you offer? To whom do you offer it? When do you offer it? Why do you offer it? Where do you offer it?

Mass – What is your key strength, your centre of gravity? What is your main effort to leverage it and what do you need to STOP doing in order to free up the ressources to do focus on it?

Manoeuvres – What are the specific actions you must take to achieve your aim? Who does what, when, where, why, with whom, and with what ressources?

Morale – Do you believe in your mission and vision? Do you have a will to succeed no matter what? What non-material limitations must be taken into consideration in your plan?

Marketing – What is your strategy and plan to reach out to your clients with your offers? How will you go about doing this?

Whether you need to come up with a strategy, an operational plan, or a tactical plan, I can help you get it done in a single DAY!

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

We seem to live in an era when words are more like bullets—a way to injure and defeat others, to get one’s own way—than a way to communicate in a genuine manner, seeking understanding, insight, and mutual respect.

As I write this, the Paris climate summit is underway. We have just about all the countries in the world represented and we’re told this is the “last chance” to “save the planet.” Last chance. Really? Save the planet? I would think the planet doesn’t need us to “save” it. But, like the gospel inspired song said of That Lucky Old Sun, the earth will surely go on rolling around heaven all day. We may be in danger of disrupting our habitat or of damaging it beyond repair (that remains to be seen), such that we, as a species might be endangered. However, a cursory review of earth’s evolution over geological eons will show that it’s been through much worse before and life has gone on.

The zeal with which enviro-enthusiasts (or should I say fascists?) are claiming that it’s our last chance to keep the planet’s temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees is more religious than scientific. The same can be said of the attempts to claim a scientific consensus, as if scientists all agree with everything that’s claimed about environmentalists.

There may be a scientific consensus about the law of gravity, or evolution through natural selection, because the empirical evidence is overwhelming in favour of those theories. I doubt there is even close to the same level of agreement within the climatological community, which is really the only one that counts scientifically. And yet we keep hearing that 95 % of scientists, or whatever the figure is, believe that global warming is a reality. That may be the case, but being a scientist doesn’t automatically qualify someone to judge the validity of scientific theories outside their field of expertise. Just talk to medical doctors with different specialties to see how divergent the knowledge, skills, and judgment are on any particular illness or condition to realize how important these specialized competencies are to coming to a proper diagnosis and prognosis, much less the best treatment plan.

I’m not necessarily a skeptic about climate change and human-caused warming. However, there has been too much environmental change over the eons on earth to claim any kind of stasis in the matter. After all, what caused the end of the most recent ice age 10 or 12 thousand years ago? Perhaps the woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths were expelling too much methane as they chewed their cud. And what caused the planet to plunge into a deep freeze 130 thousand years ago when the current ice age started?

On the other hand, I am a skeptic when it comes to claims that “the science is settled.” Moreover, I find the current climate (pun intended) against questioning this so called common sense consensus to be a dangerous trend. It’s also very convenient for those with a statist centralizing agenda who wish to restrain economic growth and capitalism, because they claim they are the cause of global warming, at least indirectly. How convenient that there be a such an apocalyptic menace for our collective well-being. Nothing less than total war is needed to combat impending doom. And in war, all manner of propaganda and control mechanisms are warranted to defeat the common enemy. Many of the poorest countries in the world are already clamoring for a transfer of wealth from the wealthy countries to pay for African wind farms and human scale solar power units. After all, nothing should be excluded in order to “save the planet,” because this is our “last best chance.” Once again, I’m not arguing against such a wealth transfer (although there are good arguments against one). But I don’t think that haranguing people into feeling guilty is the correct way to go about it.

The use of language as a weapon and words as bullets is just as pernicious in other areas. Activists—or should I say bullies—at the University of Ottawa have gotten management to discontinue free yoga lessons for handicapped people on the grounds that yoga is “cultural appropriation.” In other words, they claim that you can’t use any idea or activity that comes from another culture if that culture was at one time subjugated by another. Presumably, the reference is to British imperialism in India. Is it okay to have Indian cuisine, or Chinese food? Can we Zumba, or do the limbo? After all, they come from Latin America and the Caribbean, originally all slave societies.

Just to be egalitarian, I don’t think war mongers come off any better. The Islamist inspired attacks in Paris, the Middle East and anywhere else are horrible and the Jihadist threat must be met militarily and politically with appropriate means and strategy. But I don’t think we’re in a “war on terror” any more than we’re engaged in wars on inequality, cultural appropriation, climate change, or global capitalism.

Language and words should help us understand and think better, not separate us into sloganeering tribes with faith-based creeds and intolerant beliefs. After all, words aren’t bullets.

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.

  • There are three types of competence: knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  • People want to follow leaders who are competent and able to lead them to victory and
    achievement.
  • The Leadership Competence Pyramid has three levels: management, inspiration, and change.
  • Management often gets short shrift or is seen in opposition to leadership, but it is an integral
    part of a leader’s competence toolkit.
  • The idea that you can be an effective leader while being a so-so manager is a myth. Leaders
    must be effective at planning, organizing, directing, executing, and controlling.
  • Knowledge is fairly easy to acquire, but what differentiates truly competent leaders is the
    ability to perform at and beyond expectations. This requires diligent and constant practice and
    skill development.
  • You need a growth mindset and a commitment to learning to lead and to develop your
    leadership competencies.
  • We can’t earn the respect and confidence of followers, peers, and superiors, unless we believe
    in ourselves and are truly committed to growth and improvement.
  • We need self-respect and self-efficacy to overcome the roadblocks to becoming truly effective
    leaders.
  • Confidence and respect are built over time by competent performance of our duties as leaders.

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.

December is already upon us. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to make your plans for changes and new initiatives in the new year.

Here is a distilled version of the military planning and readiness process that you can apply to your own needs. I’ve been helping my business clients with this type of “battle preparation” for close to 10 years now.

This is a proven method to get through any challenging period and come out on the other side with outstanding results.

  1. Determine or confirm the problem to be solved or the change to be made. This leads to a clear and concrete statement of the end state or vision and its supporting objectives.
  2. Do a time estimate to determine how much time is available before launching the change/operation and the tasks that must be achieved before D-Day.
  3. Plan and execute reconnaissance in order to discover and assess the terrain (market), weather (economic, political, social conditions), objective (customers), and enemy (competition).
  4. Analyse your tasks and responsibilities as well as the overarching strategic framework to create a clear and concise mission statement for the change/operation.
  5. Give everyone brief overview of the mission and operation/change to come, including any preparatory tasks and work.
  6. Plan the change/operation.
  7. Communicate your plan in sufficient detail to give everyone involved to understand the overall context, intent, and their specific tasks, responsibilities, outcomes and resources. Leave sufficient time for subordinate elements and managers to conduct their own “battle readiness” procedure.
  8. Execute the plan while controlling progress.
  9. Evaluate interim results.
  10. Make adjustments and update plan as needed. Communicate and control changes.

Feel free to contact me at any time for the this or any other strategic, leadership, and performance improvement needs.  Ask me about my “Battle Procedure Briefing” for business, which is one of the means I use to bring powerful results to my clients. I also speak and facilitate sessions on leadership, initiative, morale, strategy and using military wisdom to win business battles.

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.