How to Get Things Done Fast…with more FUN.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Compared to the small, single-engine biplanes that the U.S. military flew in World War I, today’s combat fighters are sleek, stealthy, and capable of raining destruction upon the enemy at great ranges.
But while technology has changed a great deal over the past 80+ years, combat missions themselves have not changed much at all. To put it simply, just about every mission can be summarized as follows:
1. Fight your way to the target.
2. Drop your bombs.
3. Fight your way home.
Armed with that knowledge, one of my keys to properly planning a mission over enemy territory has been to focus on the target and work backward.
I typically prioritize my planning around the reason I am going into harm’s way: to take out a target. It wouldn’t make sense to get airborne, shoot down a few MiGs, and dodge some surface-to-air fire just for the sheer thrill value (although it does sound fun).
The more I write about the subject of personal productivity and leadership, the more I realize how many of the things I have learned in the cockpit of the F-18 transfer directly into the real world.
This subject is no exception. The principle of starting with the target and working backward can be an invaluable (and money-making) tool for you and your company.
The process itself is so simple that it can easily get lost in the shuffle. Here it is:
Step 1: Describe the target.
In order to reach your goals, you need to have some. That may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people miss this step. Your goal or mission should be able to fit on the back of a business card.
An example of a good mission-oriented goal starts with the phrase, “My final desired result is…”
Military example — “My final desired result is the complete destruction of the enemy airfield storage shelters.”
Business example — “My final desired result is a 30% increase in online advertising efficiency as determined by an increase in our click-through rate from 3% to 4% over the next month.”
Step 2: Describe the actions necessary to reach the target.
This is the time to peel back the onion and assign detailed tasks and deliverables to each of your subordinate leaders.
Take a four-step approach to determine actions:
This is the step you want your subordinate to take.
Task: Split-test two ads online.
This is why you are doing something. It gives a direction that can be followed in your absence. It usually begins with the phrase, “In order to…”
Purpose: In order to increase overall ad effectiveness on all keywords.
The devil is in the details, and this is where you put the meat on the bones of a good mission. Fill in anything that needs to be filled in to answer the question, “How?” And by all means, don’t be like most people and assume that everyone can read your mind.
How: Using Google AdWords and only on the search network (not on content sites).
This is where you communicate your goal from step one. It starts with, “My final desired result is…”
End state: My final desired result is a 30% increase in online advertising efficiency as determined by an increase in our click-through rate from 3% to 4% over the next month.
Here is what the entire mission statement sounds like (after you complete steps 1 and 2):
Split-test two ads online in order to increase overall ad effectiveness on all keywords using Google AdWords and only on the search network (not on content sites). My final desired result is a 30% increase in online advertising efficiency as determined by an increase in our click-through rate from 3% to 4% over the next month.
Here is another example:
Rework the Johnson proposal [TASK] in order to wrap up all the loose ends we have identified [PURPOSE] using the planning matrix from page 39 of the manual [METHOD]. My final desired result is a complete and edited proposal on my desk by 3 p.m. on Friday [TARGET].
Step 3: Conduct concurrent planning.
For larger projects, allow your subordinates time to do their own mission analysis and tasking (steps 1 and 2). Be sure to give them tight deadlines. Remember that tasks expand if given too much time.
Step 4: Supervise.
This critical step is not to be confused with micromanagement. This is where you hold all of your people accountable for reaching their goals and deadlines without looking over their shoulders. Repeat this process periodically for each of your missions.
Finally, remember that this process does not require any more meetings. It requires action.
Try focusing on the target and working backward on your next task; I think you’ll see unparalleled mission success.
Do you enjoy hearing the business lessons I learned during my time as a fighter pilot? In my Monthly Miracle Membership I teach my members all the lessons I’ve learned so they can discover their purpose, plan their missions and EXPLODE their profit. Come check it out for $1.
If you’re to set your mission and get to work, join now.
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