Synchronizing Effects in a Time-Constrained Environment

By Colonel (Retired) Kevin W. Farrell, Ph.D., Sunday, January 01, 2017

Have you ever wondered how you can execute a comprehensive redirection in a broad and diverse organization in a time-constrained environment? Often significant change is needed quickly in order to avert a crisis, or more commonly, to redirect an organization when there is a change in management and/or the operating conditions. For the corporate world, these are common, but often dreaded, phenomena. Fortunately, there is a ready-made solution, and it comes from a tried and true practice the U.S. Army has been using for many years: the Rehearsal. Whereas many readers and devotees of the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) are familiar and comfortable with the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and the great tools it offers for developing and executing plans at the highest levels, the Rehearsal is an important final step in the process and perhaps the most crucial but frequently the least understood and the least practiced.

For the military there are five types of rehearsals: the Confirmation Brief, the Backbrief, the Combined Arms Rehearsal, the Support Rehearsal, and the Battle Drill or SOP Rehearsal. For the typical TLDG client it is the first two types of “rehearsal” that will prove the most useful. They are ideally suited for improving regular organizational effectiveness and especially for managing change or a new direction in a time-constrained and/or urgent situation.

Over the course of my career, whether dealing with military or civilian leadership situations, I have frequently encountered interactions between senior and subordinate leaders in which both individuals believe that the exchange of guidance between them is clear and mutually understood. To the outside observer, however, it is clear that neither the senior or subordinate are communicating the same thing and after the end of the discussion both individuals will leave believing the other is in alignment with what has just transpired. This common problem is solved by the practice the U.S. Army has labeled the Confirmation Brief. The essence is the Confirmation Brief is an excellent tool that ensures that senior and subordinate are in alignment and mutually understood, whether the situation is ordinary or extraordinary. When it becomes a matter of routine, which it should, an organization flourishes.

Another common problem for a large and diverse organization is in-depth understanding and execution of policy, goals, and orientation toward the higher purpose. Especially when time is short and urgency is required, it is exceedingly difficult to realign the organization. The U.S. Army provides a solution to this situation as well with the second type of rehearsal I addressed above: the Backbrief. The great strength of the Backbrief is that it allows subordinate organizations within a larger organization to receive new guidance, develop a plan, and present that plan back to the higher levels of leadership within the organization. The power of the Backbrief is that it allows any organization, no matter how large or complex, to change direction and orientation quickly while ensuring alignment vertically and horizontally throughout.

TLDG offers a broad range of classes and programs ideally suited to meet the needs of virtually any organization interested in improving its leadership climate and organizational effectiveness.


Colonel Kevin Farrell, Ph.D.

ExpertiseLeadership, history of West Point, American military history, history of World War II, history of modern Europe, staff ride leader  ExperienceColonel (Ret.) Farrell is a scholar warrior who served for 30 years in a variety of leadership, leader development, and staff positions overseas and throughout the United States. His most... Read More +

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"You build trust and cohesion through leading by example, empowerment, listening, talking to people at the lower level to check the morale, and having presence at different settings."
Colonel Kevin Farrell, Ph.D.
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"You build trust and cohesion through leading by example, empowerment, listening, talking to people at the lower level to check the morale, and having presence at different settings."
Synchronizing Effects in a Time-Constrained Environment




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