Use This Green Beret Plan to Have a Super Productive Day
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Former Green Beret Sergeant Major (retired) Karl Erickson last week shared his military-tested morning routine that'll keep you energized. And now that you're awake, he's got more to tell you to make the most out of your day.
"We call it the 5 Paragraph Operations Order. Military leaders have planned some of the greatest operations in history using it, and I’ve learned that you can apply that process to kick some butt in the business world as well," Karlson told Entrepreneur. "Sure, you're not using tanks and mortars -- I hope not, at least -- but the same basic principles apply: prepare, plan and be ready for everything to suddenly go sideways."
Paragraph 1: Situation
"Basically, this is where you want to clearly tell your team what is going on. This is what we are dealing with and these are the circumstances surrounding the situation. In business, the situation could be 'There’s an opportunity to win a contract.' In Iraq, this could vary from 'Insurgents are conducting attacks on coalition convoys' all the way up to 'American reporter, Jill Carrol, has been kidnapped.' Whatever it is, you want to have a simple statement that allows everyone on the team to understand what is going on. Then you go into extreme details of everything that is known about the situation. At war, this would include very fine details, like when the moon rises and sets, which would let me know when the night scopes on my sniper rifle would really be effective. You’re probably not going to need to know about the moon for your business plan, but the idea is to think about every detail that is affecting this situation."
Paragraph 2: Mission
"Now that you have the situation outlined, you need to define what it is you want to achieve. Be very precise with your words here. In the military, we call this the Commander’s Intent. Using the contract example, is the intent to make the most money out of this deal or do you want to win the contract no matter how small the profit margin with the intent to start a relationship? Knowing the ultimate intent empowers your team to operate effectively without having to ask a bunch of questions along the way. In the military, a team might be ordered to guard a bridge, but by knowing that the Commander’s Intent is to deny a crossing point for the enemy, if those Marines saw the enemy crossing 100 meters downstream, they would know to interdict without having to ask for permission."
Paragraph 3: Execution
"'How I want to do this?' This is a detailed step-by-step plan of attack. To win that contract, this lays out who you are going to meet with to get strategic backing, what you’re going to present, where you are going to present it, who is going to be in the room -- everything. This should include contingency plans. What are we going to do if the other company says this? What if they hate the idea? On military operations, we would usually build scale models of the target structures and surrounding buildings to aid with rehearsals and contingency planning. This is so that when things are starting to not go your way, you have thought and planned for adjustments you can make as events unfold. So back to business, boardroom not reacting the way you hoped? You already have three ways to pivot in your back pocket."
Paragraph 4: Service and Support
"Time to get organized. This is where you lay out what do you need to accomplish your mission. This is incredibly important. We need a multimedia presentation put together, we need to book flights, we need to secure investors -- whatever it is you require to properly execute. For us in the military, depending on the mission, that might mean securing the vehicle that has the Quickie Saw and breaching tools, or the vehicle that has the mounted .50 cal gun. Point is, outline the equipment and items you need to be successful and get them."
Paragraph 5: Command and Signal
"You need to clearly define who is in charge of each phase of the mission and who owns each part of the execution. This paragraph also lays out the chain of command. We would always plan who was next-in-line if the commander got shot. So you have a big meeting? Who is leading the presentation and who will step up and if your lead guy gets food poisoning or misses his flight? It might sound overboard and overthinking, but it can happen and it is better to be prepared. When everyone on your team knows the chain of command, everyone knows their place so they can step in when they need to without asking questions. And also, they know when they should shut the hell up and let the leader talk. You can never undervalue that!"