I saw a post on Doctrine Man the other day about a power point slide masterpiece. Having been a staff monkey myself, I'm sure the creator spent countless hours on this visual masterpiece. Sure it looks impressive, but can you summarize what this slide is trying to convey in 20 seconds or less?
I think sometimes we do a poor job communicating by over-focusing on impressiveness of the presentation, and not on the clarity of data or simplifying the core message. When presenting information, we should following the following principles:
For those of you who are looking to improve your ability in communicating data, I would recommend browsing through the following two articles "Effectively Communicating Numbers: Selecting the Best Means and Manner of Display" by Stephen Few and "Data Graphics" from the Wharton Business School.
I'd recommend using the website Tableau to easily play around with data and decide how to effectively present it.
My second deployment was to COS Garryowen in Maysan, Iraq at the end of Operation New Dawn in 2011. Over the course of the deployment, our operations transitioned from being offensive while partnered with the Iraqi Army to defensive as we retrograded and closed bases. We very rarely went into the towns and cities and quickly lost our pulse on what was going on in the world around us. Working with my S2, we came up with the idea to do google searches of people, groups, or places around us in Arabic.
We would get search page results, and then I would work with one of our translators to provide summaries of the articles for my Battalion Commander. Sure, echelons above Brigade were working on translating articles that mattered to DOD, and occasionally they would filter down to us, but we never got exactly what we wanted nor as quick as we wanted. With this method, we quickly became much more tuned into the political and enemy situation and were able to make better decisions because of this.
In five years much has changed, and Google now offers a way to automate the process I just mentioned. Google Alerts scours the internet for topics that matter to you and empowers you with open source information. You can set Google Alerts to either send you updates as the stories are published, or you can ask for less frequent updates (daily or weekly).
I recommend these things to add to your Google Alerts: your branch, your unit, your unit's equipment, your name, your boss's name, areas you are/will be deployed to, and important individuals/groups acting in the area you are deployed to. Check out the video below for a step by step guide on how to set this up.
Do you have any other suggested tips for using Google Alerts? If you have thoughts on the article you just read, please leave some comments for the group. If you’d like to continue following this blog, sign up for our newsletter or add our RSS Feed to your Feedly account to know when new content is posted .
Do you have financial investments? If you do you might have noticed something called Quarterly and Annual reports. These reports are required by the SEC and provide information to stakeholders on progress of various KPIs as well as updates on the way ahead for the company. These reports are published on the company's website and all shareholders are notified when they are released. The intent of these documents is to demonstrate how company leadership are effectively using their resources to return profits back to shareholders.
My question is why in the military we don't do this? We do a really great job of letting our higher headquarters know how well our unit is performing. In weekly training meetings we update them on every training stat imaginable. In Quarterly Training Briefs we share our plans for awesome Gunneries or FTXs that will build towards METL proficiency. But the problem is the majority of our messaging is just going upward. Sure we might publish OPORDs that provide these details, but only a small fraction of the population actually sees that document.
Why not schedule a quarterly update to brief your Soldiers? It doesn't have to be a big to do with conference rooms blocked off and endless PowerPoint slides. The Military Leader posted an article some time back about making your close out briefs more interesting . Instead of giving the standard close out safety speech, why not take 15 minutes to remind your Soldiers of the progress they have made in the last three months and the way ahead/ major events in the next quarter. Make it a part of a Pay Day Activities early close out so that it becomes a battle rhythm event. Though they may already getting snip its of this from your subordinate leaders in the organization, hearing it come from the leader at the top will be much more powerful.
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Google Drive came out in 2011, but I wasn't aware of it until I started grad school in 2015. The benefits of Google Drive are that you can share all your information with anyone who has a Google account. Military share drives (whether they be on a unit's internal network or on AKO) tend to limit knowledge sharing. You are limited on AKO share drives because you have to be on a computer, you have to log in to AKO, and then you have to find where the file is stored. We know most Soldiers rarely get on AKO so storing information there for common use is adding a barrier. Unit share drives offer more value in sharing information, however you can get locked out documents if someone else is on them and you can only access them from computers that can get on the network.
Google Drive removes these barriers. It is accessible from any device that has a Gmail account. In Google Drive you can work on PowerPoints, Excel, and Word Documents. More than one person can be working on the document in real time. If you want to control who has access to read or write a document, the author can limit who is granted which privileges. These benefits create an environment where information can be easily shared.
Now imagine this: when a new Soldier arrives to your unit they are given access to your company Google Drive. They open up the Google Drive from their cell phone. On it they can find the Unit Training calendar, files of TMs/ATTPs/ATRPs/ FMs that are relevant to them, OPORDs for upcoming training, or even up to data platoon weapons/pt stats. This access to knowledge empowers the Soldier to do so much more than if they were left in the dark.
You can also see the value of Google Drives for a battalion staff. Every week you have to get a FRAGO out. Instead of emailing the one poor soul who has to compile all of those entries together at the last minute, every staff member is enabled to enter their own FRAGO entries. In fact, multiple staff members could work on it at the same time without locking up a document or saving over others work. Imagine how less painful staff work could be if you could collectively work on something?
I would not recommend putting FOUO, PII or OPSEC (check out your unit's Critical information list) info on the google drive. While there is no history of hacking the Google Drive yet, limiting where this sort of information goes on there will help prevent future breaches.
For more information visit the Google drive website
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