Decision Process

Having people make decisions to help you before you even ask them is the best situation to have as a leader.  It means they understand your vision and guidance without confusion or misunderstanding.  As part of the military there is a process known as the military decision making process (MDMP).  The goal of MDMP is to provide a process to find the best solution to a problem.  It is geared specifically to small or large scale military operations, but you can apply it to everyday tasks or problems.

MDMP Steps

  1. Receipt of Mission (What is the problem?)
  2. Mission Analysis (What needs to be done and what are factors that are effecting the solution?)
  3. Course of Action (COA) Development (What are the viable solutions to solve the problem?)
  4. COA Analysis (What is the result and overall effects of each COA?)
  5. COA Comparison (What are the compromises or pros and cons  to each COA?)
  6. COA Approval (Which COA is the final one to execute?)
    1. Orders Production (Who needs to know what to do during the execution of the solution?)mililea

These steps occur in order, but you might have used these similar tactics to solve a problem without a full 7 step procedure.  Apply this process to pouring a glass of milk when your current position is sitting on the couch.  It might seem dumb to ask yourself 7 questions to get this problem solved, but you do it without even realizing it because it is natural to you.  This vignette seems very watered down to the normal situations where you would apply the MDMP process.

If we dig into some of the sub parts of how a staff or team utilize this process we have to start with some common understanding.  Common understanding has to start with the leadership or commander.  An output from step 1 is the mission and the intent.  These two pieces of information drive the entire process to a successful end.  If a member of the team does not know what your goal/mission is, then how to expect them to do work that relates to the final product?  What about if they don’t understand your intent and they accomplish a product that solves the problem but they added or removed features from the final product that doesn’t meet your criteria?  How can you expect your team members to make decisions or take action in your absence without understanding these two key items?  You might think that they are not doing good work and therefore might lead you to micromanaging their every move when in reality you never gave them understanding or enough information for them to execute your plan.

In steps 2-5 team member(s) are left to come up with a plan of action to solve the problem.  During these steps the team will have questions that come to light.  Answers are provided by me or the team to keep everything rolling along.  In the end there will be one or multiple COAs.  This all leads up to step 6 where my team brings me all the solutions that they have come up with and we decide on a single solution.  Once the decision has been made for a solution, then it is time to execute which is step 7.  During this entire process the team has been collaborating and all should be close to or right on track with the plan of execution.  There is nothing to go back on once you hit step 7 unless you need to inform other parties that were not involved in the MDMP process.

One of my goals as a leader is to delegate tasks.  I can’t do everything and I have to trust my team to execute effectively.  In order to delegate to the other team members they have to know your expectations which would all be laid out in the mission and intent.  This all leads to effective teams that are proactive and productive.