The Mission, The Men And Me - Notes

3 M’s guiding principle leant early in military career.

Mission – purpose of what your doing use it to guide decisions and make sure you understand it

Men – look after their welfare and show courage – courage of your convictions to do the right thing by them.

Me – last. You have to take care of yourself but never before the mission or the men.

‘If someone has enabling information that can contribute to accomplishing our goals, we must be willing to add their talents and skills to our own, no matter how different that person is from us. Even if its implies that everything we planned or though we knew was incorrect. To do this we must be capable of divorcing ourselves from our emotions. Pride and hubris are town of the most common derailers of a person’s common sense.’

Imagine the unimaginable. Entertain the power of your imagination and be prepared to work with ‘crazy’ ideas. Example of a gorilla costume as part of a hard arrest option against a Bosnian PIFWIC.


  • In the absence of understanding (where clarity equals being clear what you don’t know) need to develop the situation. Lewis and Clark expedition example – they didn’t plan they prepared. John Walker Lindh also an example a radicalised US jihadi who was able to connect with AQ on the same principle of developing the situation.

Unit psych advice for thinking through problems that demand creativity – ie the problem is both novel and complex: Saturate, incubate & illuminate. (Represents how conscious and unconscious parts of our brains connect and how important unconscious connection is in order to find creative solutions).

Large hierarchies like the military create inevitable friction to the passage of information as layers dilute or contaminate the message. Planning becomes all consuming and eventually the mission becomes to execute the plan – regardless of what might be happening on the ground or what might have changed.

Critical importance of listening to the man on the ground – ‘what would you recommend?’ Good question to empower subordinates (implies both trust and respect of their knowledge and expertise), let them think and give permission – high chance they know better than you, know when to get out of the way. Also acts as a constant situational reality check as it elicits tacit knowledge of the situation.

It’s not reality unless its shared. Why do smart people make bad decisions? In an organizational context very often because of the lack of a shared reality – or common operating picture, leads to unchallenged or unacknowledged assumptions and multiple versions of the ‘truth’.

Central philosophy for communications is boundary-less. No borders in all directions.