The Step You Might Be Forgetting (or Just Don’t Know)
Deadlines are extended numerous times, Task Saturation smothers productivity, or contingencies occur without notice, leaving the team scrambling to recover.
If you’ve ever found yourself in one of these situations, you are well aware of the significant effects they can have on mission success. There are a number of factors that can lead to each, but there is one that many teams aren’t familiar with. Moving from the collaborative, open environment of the planning stage to the deliberate, disciplined environment of the execution stage requires a transition in team mentality. In the Flawless Execution model, this is done via a BRIEF. There are three main benefits to pre-execution briefing:
- Team Alignment: the BRIEF allows the team leader one last opportunity to reinforce expectations, re-cap important information, and ensure familiarity with plan components. The BRIEF also provides a high-level overview of the plan, giving a clear picture of the interconnectedness and how each individual action affects those that follow it.
- Set the Tone: the planning stage is characterized by collaboration, analysis, and revision, necessary elements to comprehensive plan development. Once the plan is finalized, those characteristics should give way to deliberate, accountable actions as the team sets out to execute against it. Considering the time investment in plan development, you want to ensure that execution begins flawlessly. The BRIEF establishes this shift in mindset via a structured, led presentation prepared well in advance.
- Centralizes Leadership: divided leadership is detrimental to team success. Just like the need for accountable, individually assigned tasking within the Course of Action, the overall mission must have a center of authority, a single role responsible for achieving the mission objective. Because the BRIEF establishes expectations and previews the quality of performance (sloppy BRIEF = sloppy execution), it is vital for the team leader to prepare the BRIEF well in advance.
Just because something is important doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult or extensive. The BRIEF should be succinct and clearly articulated with visuals for full-team understanding. In true Afterburner form, the BRIEF is not only a stage in the Flawless Execution model, but also an acronym for the structure: Big picture, Review the mission objective, Identify the threats & resources, Execution, and Flexibility. If the flow seems familiar, it is—the BRIEF follows the Six Steps of Mission Planning process. Easy enough, but this stage plays an important role in putting plan to action.
The first step in the BRIEF allows leadership to draw the distinct link between tactical action and the bigger picture. Not only will repetition ensure alignment to the High Definition Destination, it is fundamental to gaining team buy-in and driving effects-based thinking. Do this by clearly outlining the ways achieving the Mission Objective aligns to the overall High Definition Destination.
Review the Mission Objective
The iterative design of the Six Steps of Mission Planning is meant to ensure that all aspects of the final plan are appropriate, so the ultimate Mission Objective you execute against can be significantly different from what the planning phase began with. Your mission depends on a clear understanding of what success looks like thus the second step serves to reiterate the clear, measurable, achievable goal that the team is working toward.
Identify the Threats & Resources
Empower team members by restating the mission’s top threats and the resources that will help to mitigate their effects. Situational Awareness throughout the execution stage will reduce the anxiety that day-to-day obstacles can cause and promote a bias to action when these threats arise.
This step is the heart of the BRIEF. Reinforcing individual accountability and expectations prior to execution will align the team around the agreed upon components in the Course of Action. Briefing the Who-does-What-by-When from your Course of Action will reinforce the interdependence of each and every action, establishing mutual understanding, which plays an important role in executing the Course of Action.
Contingency plan effectiveness depends on the team’s familiarity with the triggers as well as the corresponding actions. Without clarity around what determines that the contingency has occurred or what needs to be done to address it, the response times will be delayed and the contingency that you actively planned for will negatively affect mission outcomes.
Once the BRIEF is complete, your team is ready to execute. Next month, we will begin our Execution Series with the Six Ways to Fight Task Saturation and the essential activities to executing flawlessly.
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