Almost every veteran has heard the phrase, “No plan survives first contact,” but how often do we build a plan expecting to deviate from that plan? If we knew the plan wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, why do we spend countless hours writing OPORDs that are hundreds of pages long, that no one reads?
There is a disconnect between the planning aspect and the execution aspect.
The problem is that there is a need for high level goals and structure to support the logistical requirements and Joint integrated planning that must be accomplished (Predictive/MCPP/MDMP/PMP), but within that context there needs to be a framework that can allow the teams executing the mission to embrace the unknown and adapt at the speed of thought, technology, intel and the truth on the ground. But the military hasn’t developed one yet instead relying on leadership, tenacity, grit and “Semper Gumby.” (PMI-ACP can be the bridge between these two disconnected realities and allow the required planning to be conducted in the orders process, and translate to tactical execution, while providing traceability. It allows the team at all levels of the command to participate in mission execution and refine the actions being taken within a known construct. Agile allows tactical level ideas and make operational or strategic level changes. This is where Agile Project Management thrives.
Outside of the operational force context described, there are other areas where Agile Project Management thrives as well. I keep hearing buzzwords from senior leaders in the military that sound good but are struggling to become a reality. These are “Agile” and “Innovation,” yet I am not sure the words share the same meaning nor is there much definition on how to achieve either of the desired goals these words try to convey.
The issue resides in two areas:
1) Both innovation and agility require a culture and organizational structure that is anything but the military. One that invites creative ideas and feedback and inherently challenges the status quo. The systems and mechanisms must also be in place to rapidly make decisions at the lowest level; with the support and backing of senior leadership. (This was more common I believe before technology allowed senior commanders to “see everything,” and focusing on CYA). Not looking to start a debate but I would love a healthy discussion on the topic.
2) There is a lack of structure, process, or a clear understanding to facilitate agility and innovation. These don’t happen in a vacuum and for change to occur there must be a way for ideas to move into actions.
This is where the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) comes in. It's a 3 day course offered by PM-ProLearn that teaches leaders how to think differently. It provides processes, tools, and methods that allow organizations to structure themselves in a way so as to execute operations in an efficient, rapid change fashion while still being able to track progress towards a clear objective. It also builds team cohesion in that the user is the key stakeholder, rather than the CO. The User is directly involved in the process with oversight and supervision from higher.
At its Core, Agile is focused on leading smaller teams (12 or less) to manage operations where change is expected, and the means of solving a problem or mission are unclear. It fits in two key areas within the Military.
1) COA Dev. This process is inherently Agile in that there is no answer at the start, only a vision and desire. You throw things against the wall in order to "fail fast" and see what works. This process repeats a few times to continue to refine the objective until a decision is made, then the process shifts to the Predictive or PMP process.
2) Small unit leadership. Agile is designed for teams of 12 or less to execute missions where change is not only expected, but encouraged, so that every team member feeds into the mission and refines the process and deliverables based on what they see.
Why is Agile so powerful: Applied correctly, Agile provides a leadership framework to empower teams to solve problems, provide clarity, and rapid feedback to ever changing situations.
Everyone is a team member and has equal value to contribute.
Information is shared and communicated frequently (good and bad)
No one is beyond improvement or recommendation.
Leaders remove barriers to progress and take on work that impedes the team performance
The Team matters more!!!!!
Want to see for yourself, invest in a PMI-ACP Pilot course and get feedback from your team. 75th Rangers and 3rd Group have and are changing the way they run their S-3.
A custom course only requires 8 students anywhere in the world. Unit funding, ArmyIgnited, and AF COOL all cover this training too.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get a class scheduled today.