Does Your Business Have a Battle Rhythm? Why You Need One

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Apr 14, 2020
Image Credit: g-stockstudio/Shutterstock

Businesses can learn much from the key aspects of military battle rhythm.

  • Companies can use military battle rhythms as inspiration for a management style that focuses on synchronization.
  • Clearly defining each person's part to play and promoting open communication between managers and staff in an organization helps achieve companywide success.
  • Use battle rhythm techniques to help team members come together and achieve benchmark goals within a project more quickly.

The military defines battle rhythm as "a deliberate daily cycle of command, staff and unit activities intended to synchronize current and future operations." Businesses can learn much from the key aspects of military battle rhythm: organization, strategic routines and informed decision-making. Read on to learn what battle rhythm entails, how to set up a strategic battle rhythm and how battle rhythm can accelerate your company's growth trajectory.

The concept of battle rhythm 

Battle rhythm is an operational knowledge management process. It is equal parts strategic routine and information processing. These two components work together to improve the organization, develop higher quality and more useful information, and encourage strategic decision-making. The military considers battle rhythm a strategy to gain a competitive edge. Your business's battle rhythm should be understood by all members of the organization to enable better cooperation and context for each person's role in the greater mission.

What makes a successful battle rhythm

A successful battle rhythm depends largely on organization. Without organization, nothing comes together in harmony. Although some routines can be mixed up within a company, there needs to be a set process that all team members must follow. If one team member isn't following the rhythm, the entire organization is off key. Every member of your team should know their role within the company. Communication is key for success. All project information should be exchanged in a free flow, with everyone knowing their part to play as well as the parts of their colleagues. Defined roles set up an organization for success. These roles should be detailed from the moment a new team member is hired to allow them to contribute effectively to your company's battle rhythm.    

Strategic routines

Routine can hamper innovation, but setting and meeting deadlines and reporting routines will give all members of your organization the framework to structure their work and tasks. They will know what to focus on and will deliver updates regularly. 

You can make weekly and monthly routines as strategic as possible by first identifying what information or status updates you need for key operational decisions each month. This could be related to inventory, sales or customers, for instance. Then, work backward to determine which inputs are necessary to make those key decisions. Develop a cadence for receiving necessary reports or pulling the needed data, as well as for manager review and reporting on the raw data. This will enable each employee to structure their weeks in order to develop and prepare the necessary report.

Note: Avoid meeting too frequently, as employees need time to actually complete their work and making decisions based on statistically insignificant data is unwise.

Information sharing

Battle rhythm strategy involves upwardly sharing strategic information. Each upward level should enhance the strategic value of the information. This means business owners should leverage their managers' areas of expertise and years of experience by instructing them to synthesize collected information from their reports. They should then deliver interpretations, extrapolations and synthesis in an actionable manner. This will help you, the business owner, make the best decisions for the business.

Battle rhythm for growth

A superior battle rhythm will help your business make the most strategic and correct decisions possible. A battle rhythm can also help your small business reduce waste, boost efficiency and accomplish goals in less time. A widely adopted rhythm also ensures your employees are working in harmony and supporting one another's efforts to the fullest extent. All of these things will inherently make your business stronger and more successful.

The battle rhythm system can apply to a specific growth goal as well. Begin with the goal, then determine what benchmarks or improvements need to occur to make it possible. Set the benchmarks and timetables as goals for your departments, and have them determine a work schedule or their own plans for achieving the benchmarks in the time period needed. Check-ins ahead of benchmarks will both keep employees accountable and keep you informed on their progress. Work with your managers to ensure that your goals and timetables are correct – you'll need their support to drive their departments toward the goals.

Marching to the battle rhythm

A NASA janitor once told President John F. Kennedy that his job was to help put a man on the moon. This was an employee who understood his role within the overall process. Synchronized efforts and clearly defined roles are crucial to a successful and strategic battle rhythm. All employees in your organization should know how their role helps the business grow.

Greater understanding of the rhythm and roles will improve coordination and employee motivation. Departments within your business can more easily coordinate their activities if they know each other's battle rhythm.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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