Friday, May 21, 2010

Battle Rhythm

People like predictability. They like to have routine meetings at the same time during the day or week. They like to exchange routine information in standardized ways. They like to know their expectations for where and when they need to be for certain activities.

This is what we call battle rhythm. Every good organization has certain regular patterns. Staff meetings are at 9:00 on Tuesdays. Quick huddles are every morning at the beginning of the day. Subordinates submit standard reports every Friday on the week's activities. Football teams establish this sort of standard practice week before Saturday games. Teachers / construction workers / policemen know and understand the flow of the week and what they must do as a part of each of the mandatory activities. This is the framework in which we fit everything else we must do.

While our respective battle rhythms may differ greatly, their importance is something we all share. It helps supervisors structure their week. They can fit information requirements around scheduled meetings (instead of pestering people for things they should be getting as part of the routine). Subordinates know their expectations for presence, participation, and information.

I guess as I get ready to board a plane and head to Afghanistan for a one week visit with my future unit, this is something I am really interested in learning. I'd like to get a feel for a normal day / week / month / quarter. I will be looking for information on meetings, reporting requirements, how I will receive and transmit key elements of data, etc. While I won't know everything when I come back in a few days, I will be much more comfortable with what normal looks like. At least as normal as Afghanistan can look!

I also know that one of the more important issues we can influence as leaders is...the battle rhythm. Information flow should be additive and bring value to each other -- not data for the sake of data! Meetings should take place routinely, as infrequently as possible, and help all attendees do their job more effectively (not just the boss). Establishing a standard, logical battle rhythm will make everyone more confident in what they are doing and more comfortable with how we operate as leaders.

I have tons of questions. But you can be sure I will come back with a good understanding of battle rhythm. I will let you know how it goes. That's...Leader Business.

1 comment:

Kim Warner said...

It was great meeting you this week - you take care over there...