Brilliant Manoeuvre
The military uses the principle of combined arms cooperation to balance the strengths and weaknesses of various arms and elements within a force. This creates synergy and mutual support. A well balanced combined arms force is more adaptable, resilient, and robust, and is also in a better position to create dilemmas for the enemy, forcing him to commit forces in a manner that creates vulnerabilities.

The perfect military example is how a combined arms battle group is organized. There is a balance of tanks, infantry, artillery, antitank, and engineer elements, supported by a mix of logistical and administrative elements. There can also be aviation and other force multipliers. For instance, the tanks provide speed, armour protection, and firepower; they provide the cover and close in fire support to the infantry so they can do their job to close with and destroy the enemy. Conversely, the infantry can protect the tanks from enemy infantry, occupy ground, and fight hand-to-hand with the enemy. Other elements such as engineers provide mobility and additional protection, and the artillery provides powerful fire support. In a business, various elements should be combined to create a powerful synergistic effect. For instance, a supplier that has long lead times and larger lot sizes, but that costs less, can be given the task of supplying components that are needed no matter what the demand is. On the other hand, a supplier that has shorter lead time for orders and needs much smaller order sizes — but that has higher costs — can be given the task of providing top up support to meet unexpected demand or to accomodate short-term design changes.

Find the strengths, weaknesses, talents, and skills of your key people. Group them into teams and assign them responsibilities in accordance with the combined arms principle. In other words, seek to create diverse teams that have a balance of strengths, talents and skills, and that compensate mutually for weaknesses.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

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