Page 10 - Jackson Journal
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                 A philosophy seeks to enable achieving an acceptable standard (a win). On the other hand, an approach for and to command affords no such illusion of certainty; it may or may not work. Your approach will set you and your command up to be ahead or behind at the end of the day.
It is incumbent on the commander to learn his / her organization and determine what approaches have the best possibility of working in order
to consistently accomplish the mission, create
unit cohesion and an environment that yields productivity. In this endeavor, there is no recipe or script. No approach (like plans) will survive first contact. What I’ve learned in command is the reliability of three fundamental approaches:
Priorities are your friend
In order to keep the organization from feel- ing the turbulence of priority changes, the commander’s focus is priority alignment.
Commander time has one purpose
The primary focus of commander time, energy and decisions goes to those that he / she leads.
Trust building is the fifirst and only foundation that needs to be poured
Without a firm foundation of trust estab- lished, created or reinvigorated, a command- er’s efforts will be fits and starts of progress and excellence.
Priorities are your friend
In his best-selling book, Essentialism (which is a good read by the way), author Greg McKeown explains the genesis of the word priority. He
explains that the introduction of the word into the English language occurred in the 1400s. He further explains that it remained in its singular form for 500-years; priority. In the 1900s, we pluralized
the term and started to use “priorities.” Most of
us know that a priority is like a defense. If you defend everything, you essentially defend nothing. Similarly, if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
Nevertheless, we are where we are with regard to the plural use of the word priority. Commanders create multiple priority lists; enduring, near, mid- and long term, monthly, quarterly, etc. So where do we draw the line?
Commanders can’t view everything received
or generated from within or higher as a “priority”. Some things a unit should simply be doing
and doing well. When unit missions, tasks and functions are not being done well and a higher echelon seemingly makes a “new priority”; it is an illusion. The priority isn’t “new,” in most cases, it
is an effort to get routine business back on track. The fact that focusing on MEDPROS or achieving 100% of whatever by X date are all of a sudden the new priority is the tell-tell sign that the routine isn’t being done routinely well.
Commanders must put a great deal of thought into a small but essential group of priorities and ensure that all else can be logically linked to them, either directly or indirectly. Maintaining a solid set of priorities enables an organization to consistently focus. If a commander changes priorities, the organization will self-organize over time to support the priorities. Priority changes too frequently tend to keep an organization in flux and self-organizing becomes dis-organization.
Time is critical. An organization will not immediately shift to a new set of priorities. Organizational culture, climate, personalities, processes and systems will determine just how fast or slow the organization will adjust. To make frequent changes to priorities is synonymous to changing the course of a cruise ship every few miles. It should go without saying that the larger the organization, the harder and longer the course correction will take.
Subordinate leaders and staffs seem to easily confuse day to day, immediate or higher priorities with every other priority. In most cases, the “competing” priorities are nothing more than short
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