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7.1 READ THE ARTICLE

Battle Plans

A person can reach his goals by working out plans and programs, then doing the steps of the programs target by target. There are daily and weekly actions that he has to do that will result in completed targets and programs. A tool that he can use to get his programs done, his plans completed and his goals accomplished is battle plans.

A “battle plan” is defined as a list of targets for the coming day or week that help bring about the strategic planning. These targets handle actions that need to be done in the present or as soon as possible. They also handle anything that may be blocking a target, such as something that is wrong, missing or done incorrectly.

Some people write battle plans as just a series of actions that they hope to get done in the coming day or week. This is fine and better than nothing and does help organize the needed actions. It may be that someone who does not do this is going to get a lot less done and be a lot more upset and “busy” than someone who does. An excellent way to achieve production is for a person to plan out, in an orderly way, what he intends to do in the coming day or week and then get it done. But this is using battle planning as a tool in a way that is very basic.

Let’s take a look at definitions. Why is this called a battle plan? This seems to be a very rough military term to use in the everyday world of administration. But it fits and is a useful term.

A war is something that happens over a long period of time and everything depends on who wins or loses. A battle is something that occurs in a short period of time. An army can lose several battles and still win a war. So with a battle plan, one is talking about short periods of time.

There is more to this. When talking about a war, one is talking about a series of events that occur over a long period of time. No leaders in a war were ever successful unless they did some strategic planning. This would concern the progress of the war or a large part of it and would have to do with big, upper-level ideas. A strategic plan is general, not detailed, has definite purposes and fits at the top of the Administrative Scale.

At lower levels of any activity, below strategic planning, one has tactical planning. To carry out a strategic plan, there has to be a plan of movement (such as how many soldiers have to be sent where and at what time) and actions (such as whether they will attack or wait for something else to occur first). These are some of the things that are necessary to carry out tactical planning. Tactical planning normally occurs at lower levels in an army and is normally used to put the strategic planning into operation.

Tactical planning can include a lot of detail, even laying out the actions that one soldier is to do, such as “Soldier Joe is to keep his machine gun pointed at the group of trees at the top of the hill and fire if anything moves in it.”

“Middle management”—the leaders of large groups of soldiers within an army down to the leaders of small groups covered by this term—is concerned with getting strategic planning into operation.

The upper planning body turns out a strategic plan. Middle management turns this strategic plan into tactical orders. They do this both on a long-term and short-term basis. When you get down to the short-term basis, you have battle plans.

A battle plan therefore means turning strategic planning into exact, doable targets that are then put into action. These are to be accomplished in the period of time that is close to the present, not way off in the future. So here you have a good strategic plan that is then turned into good tactical targets and then carried out, resulting in forward progress. Enough of these sequences carried out successfully means that you can win the war.

This should give you a grip on what a battle plan really is. It is the list of targets to be carried out in the present or as soon as possible. These targets cover just a short period of the future. Doing them will put some portion of the strategic plan into action.

From this, it is clear that management works best when there is a strategic plan and when it is known at least down to the level of tactical planners. And tactical planners are simply those people putting strategic plans into targets, which are then known to and carried out by those in middle management and on down. This is very successful management when it is done correctly.

Of course, a strategic plan that is complete and correct will lead to actions being done that will be useful or important. And the strategic plan itself depends on programs being written in target form that are doable and make use of the available resources (money, employees, equipment, supplies, etc.).

What we speak of as “compliance” (completing what has been ordered) is really a done target. The person doing the target might not be aware of the overall strategic plan or how his target fits into it. But management has to make sure that all the targets actually bring about the overall strategic plan.

When we speak of coordination, we are really talking about making sure that a strategic plan gets put into a tactical version, which, at the lower level of responsibility in an organization, organizes the actions so that they all align in one direction.

Here is an example of alignment, or proper coordination. If you put a lot of people in a large hall (a large room used for meetings) and you had them facing in various directions and then suddenly yelled at them to start running, they would, of course, run into each other and you would have complete confusion. This is the picture one gets when strategic planning is not turned into smooth tactical planning and is not carried out in an aligned way. These people running in the hall could act like they were in a very great hurry, maybe even being very upset and confused. It might look like they were on the job and producing, but that would certainly not be accurate because their actions were not coordinated.

Now if we take these same people in the same hall and have them do something useful, such as clean up the hall, we are dealing with specific actions of specific people having to do with brooms and mops—who gets them, who takes out the trash and so forth. The strategic plan of “Get the hall ready for the meeting” is turned into a tactical plan that says exactly who does what and where. That would be the tactical plan. The result would be a clean hall that is ready for the meeting.

But “Clean up the hall for the meeting” is clearly only a small part of an overall strategic plan. In other words, the strategic plan itself has to be broken down into smaller parts.

In an organization, the head of the group could have a battle plan that would have a number of steps in it. These steps would go to lower executives, who would write battle plans for their own sections. These battle plans would have more details than the battle plan of the head of the organization. So we have a large overall plan that gradually becomes more and more detailed by being broken down into sections, with these sections broken down into even smaller targets.

This procedure should result in worthwhile accomplishments that help get the strategic plan done. And if you understand all the above, you will have become very skilled in what it takes to coordinate the many activities that have to be done to accomplish a strategic plan.

This planning depends upon the available resources. So an organization that is increasing in size or attempting big projects has to include some organizational planning and targets and battle plans so that the organization stays together as it expands.

One does not write a battle plan on the basis of “What am I going to do tomorrow?” or “What am I going to do next week?” This is fine in its own way and better than nothing. But what should be handled is the overall question of “What exact actions do I have to do to carry out this strategic plan to achieve the exact results necessary for this section of the strategic plan, within the limits of available resources?” Then one would have the battle plan for the next day or the next week.

There is one thing to be careful of when doing battle plans. One can write a lot of targets that have little or nothing to do with the strategic plan. These targets could end up keeping people very busy but accomplish no part of the overall strategic plan. Thus, a battle plan can become a liability when it is not pushing any overall strategic plan and is not accomplishing any tactical objective.

So what is a battle plan? It is the doable targets, in written form, that accomplish a part of a strategic plan that needs to be done at this point in time.

The understanding of targeting and the skillful use of targeting in battle plans is vital to the overall accomplishment that raises production, income, delivery (sending out of one’s products to those who want them) or anything else that is a desirable result.

It is a test of an executive whether he can prepare a battle plan skillfully and then get his battle plan done. This shows the skill and ability of the executive. Battle plans as a tool can also be applied by persons in all areas of life and in any activity.

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