Closest To The Action

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“The future of an organization is in the hands of the privates in the field, not the generals back home.”

–     “Krulak’s Law,” by General Charles C. Krulak, Retired, USMC (b. 1942), the leader charged with re-tooling the Marines for “modern” warfare

Krulak led in an era (granted with much greater stakes) when war was changing dramatically, just as we lead in a time when business is changing.  Krulak retrofit, or at the very least changed the conversation when it came to military planning and execution, resulting in two majors shifts.  First, tactical and immediate decisions were empowered closest to the action and it also cast a new framework for strategic and tactical planning.  That framework is known as the “Three Block War” theory; within three city blocks, troops might be engaged in 1) full-scale military operations 2) a peacekeeping mission and 3) delivering humanitarian aid.

All three at the same time. Calling for different skills, presenting vastly different risks, immeasurable possible outcomes and KPI’s, all in play at the same time.  Success required putting the decisions in the hands of the privates in the field, if for no other reason than there simply wasn’t time to get input from the generals back home.

A business faces the same challenge today.  Retail, according to the number of boxes on our doorsteps and the reduced traffic at the mall, has changed completely.  B2B services are being delivered, in some cases, by people who work remotely and will never be in the same room with the client, even during selection and negotiation.  In many cities, we can “see” a doctor on our smartphone!

The “changing the conversation” link is from 2012-ish post.  I am sensitive to linking military examples to our workaday lives, and do so only when it’s the clearest way to illustrate the concept at hand.  Changing the conversation is a no-one-gets-shot-at perspective on perspective.

What is the new perspective difference-makers must adopt?  When we put power in the hands of the people closest to the customers and equip them to change the conversation in a way that matters to the customer, we’ll use Krulak’s Law to get better every day.

 


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