Lines of fire

One of the management models I’ve used plenty of times comes from my days in the Marine Corps. It has significant application to managing an IT organization and providing focus for your team.

In the graphic above, you see two sets of Marine riflemen positioned with their range of fire set for them. One of these teams is by far more effective in a real “fire fight”.

Can you guess which one and why?

At first glance it looks like the left group, Team A, has a very organized and efficient approach that covers the whole field. It actually does until one Marine stops to reload or gets taken out of action. Then, there is a gap that can destroy the entire team.

On the other hand, the group to the right, Team B, looks like they are all over the place. The fact is that this setup has much more field coverage because of the overlap in one another’s fire lanes. When one Marine reloads or goes out, there continues to be more of the field covered by the other five Marine’s fire lanes.

Managing an IT staff is similar. I’ve seen many organizations operate inefficiently because people are running all over the place trying to react to today’s latest crisis. When I encounter such a group, one of the first things I do after assessing the needs of the business is to establish a “field of fire” or specific responsibility area for each individual.

When you have staff jumping through hoops to take care of business, it’s a good sign in that it shows that they care, , , but their approach can be very ineffective. Once you get them focused with specific areas of responsibility, coach them to stay in their position and take care of “their job” and count on the rest of the team to take care of theirs, , , the results will be much better.

Focus each team member to achieve the results you need and that they are capable of achieving, , , and go “take the hill”.

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