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

ByDiana Wertz, writer
Jun 30, 2017
Image Credit: g-stockstudio/Shutterstock
> Business Basics

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

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 a Battle Rhythm 

Battle rhythm is an operational knowledge management process. It is equal parts strategic routine and information processing. Together, 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 to be a strategy to give them a competitive edge over others. Your business' battle rhythm should be understood by all members of the organization to enable better cooperation and context for each person’s role in achieving the greater mission.

Develop Strategic Routines

Routine can hamper innovation, but setting, meeting, deadline and reporting routines will provide your organization with the framework to structure their work and tasks. They'll know what to focus on and will deliver updates regularly. Businesses scan make weekly and monthly routines as strategic as possible by first identifying what information or status updates are needed for key operational decisions made by leaders each month. This could be related to inventory, sale, or increasing customers. Then, work backward to determine which inputs are needed to make those key decisions. Develop a set cadence for receiving necessary reports or pulling the needed data, as well as a cadence 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.

Improve the Quality of Information Sharing

Battle rhythm strategy involved upwardly sharing strategic information. Each upward level should enhance the strategic value of the information. This means business owners should leverage their managers’ areas 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 for your business. A battle rhythm can also help your small business reduce waste, inefficiency and will help you accomplish goals in less time. A widely adopted rhythm also ensures you 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 be applied to a specific growth goal as well. Begin with the goal, then determine what benchmarks or improvements need to occur in order for this to be 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 the progress. Work with your managers to ensure that your goals and timetables are correct- you'll need their support to drive their departments forward towards the goals.

Marching to the Battle Rhythm

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

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Diana Wertz
Diana Wertz
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