We keep being told that Covid-19 is a “war” that the nation needs to win. You can decide for yourself if that is a metaphor stretch too far. Personally I’ll certainly agree with front line NHS staff being badged as heroes and when this is over I think we should give them all the medals and “ticker tape” parades we can think of.
Unfortunately the next battle ground is just starting – as the nation returns to some degree of normal operation, and the economy tries to restart, businesses (of every size and in every sector) are trying to work out what to do next. There are immediate concerns around social distancing, building screens, redesigning office spaces and longer term thoughts around cashflow, supply chains and redundancies.
Well since we’re there already, lets borrow one last thought from the military - they are, let’s face it, an entire industry built around planning for unknowns and then executing complex and shifting plans. I’ll confess at this point that when I was much younger and fitter I got the “Sandhurst MBA” which at the time I thought was about running around with a massive bag on my back but, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see it was actually was about how to problem solve and then command people to achieve the solution.
When a general is commanding his Division he actually outsources the planning to two different teams, usually led by two different Colonels (for those of you who speak military; the SO1 J3 or COS and the SO1 J5 or CF&E). The two teams obviously interact and they report ultimately to the same person (the general) who is brought in for the big decisions but they act with a degree of independence. One team is looking at the immediate (usually the next 12 hours) and what instant actions we need to enact now. The other team is looking longer term (usually the next 3-6 months) and what is the overall intent and what effect do they want to achieve in the longer term. Both teams do “war gaming” where they think through the 2nd or 3rd degree effects of an action (other Sandhurst graduates will recognise the constant refrain of the instructors - “so what?”) and so they will often work through multiple plans before they finalise their course of action. Often, for short hand, people think of one team as operating the tactics of the day (e.g. we need to be in this valley, but should we be on this hill or that hill?) and the other team of dealing with the strategy of the whole endeavour (e.g. we need to protect this country, but should we guard this bridge or that tribe?).
Once this is all done you might well deserve a medal yourself….
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