A huge part of the key to success in a Special Forces mission is the planning. I’ve found applying aspects of this planning process in the civilian world has aided me greatly in building a successful writing career, a seven-figure publishing company, and a consulting and speaking business (which uses Special Forces tactics and techniques in other fields).
Here are five tools we used, which you can also:
- Conduct an area study. We spent a considerable amount of time researching the environment and locale in which we would be operating. We had an extensive checklist of items to consider, from the obvious like terrain and enemy forces, to the less obvious, such as flora and fauna, power grids, medical issues, infrastructure, etc. Going into a place blind is a formula for disaster. Have an area study checklist for your area of operations.
- We went into ‘isolation’. Once we were handed a mission packet, we were locked up in a secure compound. This was not only for security reasons, but also to allow us to focus with no distractions. While a 24/7 isolation might be extreme in the civilian world, it is possible to conduct a form of isolation. When in the key planning stages, do you limit outside distractors? As a writer, I sometimes rent an apartment or house in a different locale with no television, cable, internet or phone. It allows me to focus completely on the writing.
- Make contingency plans. What can go wrong, will go wrong. I was a bit taken aback reading Lone Survivor and the lack of mission planning and contingency planning that was conducted before that operation. One thing we always factored in was that we were going to be found by the indigenous personnel no matter where in the world we went. In isolation we “war-gamed” as many possibilities as we could imagine. And then planned for them. Even before isolation, we had a team Standing Operating Procedure that laid out many of our contingencies for stock situations. (More on SOPs in another post). Remember, it’s too late to plan for Murphy to visit, when he’s amongst you.
- Rehearse. Then rehearse some more. And then more. And make sure everyone is cross-trained so that if only one member of the A-Team makes it to the target, then he can achieve the mission. There is no substitute for rehearsal. Think of sport’s teams: they call rehearsal ‘practice.’ And make sure your rehearsals are as realistic as possible. There were times our training was more dangerous than the actual mission. But there is no substitute for rehearsal. And prioritize your rehearsals based on time available. We always started with ‘actions on the objective’, which was the mission and then worked backward from that.
- Conduct a briefback. This is critical and a valuable tool that can be used in any environment prior to launching on a mission. After finishing your plan to do something, you should conduct a briefback. A briefback is an effective tool a leader can use to make sure subordinates have developed a plan that will accomplish the goals and whether adequate support has been allocated. The briefback is a way of insuring that everyone understands the mission and all key parties such as operational, logistics, communications, transport, etc. are on the same sheet of music. The briefback also assigns responsibilities. When the FOB (forward operating baser) commander gives the team a go at the end of the briefback he is taking responsibility for the team on this mission. The briefback is attended by the A-Team, the FOB commander, his staff, and any other parties that are connected to the mission. It is limited to those who have a need to know and classified at least at secret level. In essence, though, a briefback can be used in any situation where a group must work together to accomplish a mission to insure that the planning and preparation are well done.
These are just some Special Forces tools that can be modified and used in pretty much any setting and for any mission. For more detail, you can check out Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Strategies for Success, or ask in the comment section.
As we all know, the concept of a subscription service for books is extremely new. There are several models on the market now for effectively monetizing subscriptions, and none of them exactly matches what we’re used to from traditional sales royalties. As the market experiments with different approaches, there are bound to be some missteps and false starts along the way. In fact, we should expect this business model to evolve even more in the near future.
Scribd took a significant risk putting in place a model that paid authors the same amount as a retail model for each book read by a subscriber. As we all know, romance readers tend to be incredibly avid readers. In trying to cater to this voracious readership while under this progressive payment model, Scribd has put itself in a difficult place. In a bid to better balance these operating expenses, Scribd is immediately slashing the volume of romance novels in its subscription service.
If you are receiving this email, then you are a Draft2Digital author who has published books in the romance genre to Scribd. This means that some or all of your romance novels are likely going to be delisted from their service today. (Books that are priced at free will not be removed.)
While a large number of romance novels will be removed from Scribd, it isn’t all of them. We aren’t privy to the exact guidelines Scribd is using to decide which romance novels will remain, and it’s our understanding that they remain in flux at Scribd. However, over the coming days, we will be working closely with Scribd to resolve the exact criteria and share them with you so that you’ll have the opportunity to restore all of your titles to the service.
Please Note: If you write in other genres, understand that those books will not be affected by this policy change.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and assure you that we are working with Scribd to explore alternative solutions to this challenging problem, always searching for new terms that could restore our full catalog to their service.
Believe me, this situation is just as difficult for Draft2Digital as it is for you. We also stand to lose a significant portion of our revenue due to this change. More importantly, we regret that we couldn’t give our authors more notice, but unfortunately we were informed quite late in Scribd’s decision-making process. It has been our highest priority throughout these discussions to preserve as many of your books in the service as possible, and we will continue to pursue that goal going forward.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
So. Make of it what you will. But to me it means a lot of steps in the wrong direction for subscription services. It means that if a certain genre gets too many borrows for the subscription price, yet the service has to pay authors, the system is breaking down. Something has to give. De-list titles. Already happening. Pay authors less? On the horizon.
I get that it’s a business decision. But it’s an interesting one that portends much.
Bottom line: romance readers are not particularly welcome at Scribd. You read too much.
Aint that a hell of thing to say?
Overall, we don’t like failure. There are many books are out there with ‘success’ in the title, but we are loath to study the flip side.
However, Americans do celebrate failures of a certain type, especially in combat. Whether it is the Alamo, Little Big Horn, or others, we love the drama of the Last Stand.
What we need to do is learn from the failures that led to these desperate situations and avoid them in the future. Usually there is a failure of leadership involved. George Armstrong Custer’s career culminated on that fateful day on the Greasy Grass River in Montana, but the seeds of that massacre were sown long before, and far away from that place and time.
To analyze the cascade events that culminated in Custer’s Massacre (or Lakota Victory Day, depending on your perspective) we will have to look at events strategic (big picture) and tactical (small picture).
The Facts On 25 June 1876, 5 of the 12 companies of the US 7th Cavalry under George Armstrong Custer’s command were annihilated by a combined force of Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne and Arapahoe Native Americans under the leadership of Crazy Horse and Gall.
1861: Custer graduates West Point.
27 November 1868: The Battle of Washita River.
2 August 1874: Custer reports finding gold ‘right from the grass roots’ in the Black Hills.
25 June 1876; 10:50 am: Custer decides to attack the Native American encampment on the Little Big Horn River.
12:12 pm: First divide of Custer’s command as Benteen’s column splits off.
2:15 pm: Second divide of Custer’s command as Reno’s column splits off. Reno quickly becomes engaged in battle.
3:33 pm: Reno’s command retreats into the trees along the Little Big Horn River, hard pressed by the Native Americans.
3:56 pm: Custer’s companies advances down Medicine Tail Coulee.
5:00 pm: Last of heavy firing heard from Custer’s position.
The six cascade events that led to the catastrophe are:
1. West Point, Civil War, and Indian War records of George Armstrong Custer foretold a leader big on ego, bravery, and foolishness.
2. Custer’s ego and ambition. Custer not only believed himself greater than any situation he was in, he was always seeking greater glory and position.
3. Custer’s troops were poorly trained and reacted badly under stress.
4. Custer turned down Gatling guns; disdain for new technology can have disastrous effect.
5. Lack of an Area Study and understanding of the environment.
6. Custer divided his command: making tactical decisions for the wrong reasons.
These led to defeat; BTW only half the 7th Cavalry was lost. Those companies with Reno and Benteen mostly survived. For more read the short: Little Big Horn: Leadership Failure