There are a many similarities between military and business planning. The definitions of military and business planning are similar and/or have the same core processes--although they may be called something different. The Army defines planning “as a continuous process in preparation for future assigned or assumed tasks.” Further, “[planning] involves a detailed and systematic examination of all aspects of contemplated operations.” An additional business definition of planning includes, “defining the ends to be achieved and determining appropriate means to achieve the defined ends.” Another business definition states, “defining organizational goals and proposing ways to reach them.” Although, if you take the definitions apart you will find some slight differences. However, the business and military definitions address future objectives and an on-going and defined process for achieving and reaching those goals. The key significant difference in the business planning process and military strategies is military plans include preparing to fight and win. General George Patton said, “Practice those things in peace time that you intend to do in war.”
However, both military and business planning require effective leadership. Effective leadership at the core requires vision. “Vision is the sense of the future...and the power of a vision...gives leaders a basis for positive actions, growth, and transformation.” This sense must be converted to action. To ‘convert the vision to action’ certain characteristics are important to and in senior leaders to achieve that vision. These characteristics are ethics, professional skills, process, and organization. All effective leaders utilize these basic characteristics to implement and sustain their vision. The implementation of the leader’s vision requires the use of these characteristics to develop the strategies to plan and guide the direction of a business or the military operation. The premise regarding the issue of strategies of war planning or business planning hinges on the use of these characteristics.
The first critical element of leadership (military or business planning) is ethics. “Ethics is a set of values and rules that define right and wrong conduct.” Although ethical values may vary for the leader in a business as compared to a military organization, the core expectations of value and rules are essential for a strategically effective organization. One is reminded of the Enrons of the world when we think of failure to maintain ethical standards. This is not to say that the military has not had some of the same, such as the Melie massacre in Vietnam. It should be understood that this type of behavior is not taught or actively allowed in the military setting. Further, we tend to forget the ethical standards set by companies, such as Tylenol, who many years ago voluntarily recalled their product, and saved their company and set an ethical standard respected by customer and industry alike. Further, our military has a history of more than 200 years of ethical behavior in light of a completely different mission than a business.
Therefore, effective leaders must serve as role models worthy of emulation, promote ethical development in subordinates, and develop and sustain those standards which are expected by all employees. Without such effort originating from the top level in an organization and working its way down through the organization, a weakness can develop which will continue to plague the organization.
An ethical weakness is a serious problem in an organization and will eventually seriously hamper the organization, if not cause its downfall. This is significant enough for a business organization. However, the issue is much more significant in a military organization where the ultimate mission is to fight and win a war. The demonstration and expectations of such values as loyalty, duty, selfless service, and...
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