As a mission (or intent, purpose, project, etc.) is defined, a structured format is needed to keep the mission on track as well as assure the people involved, actions, materials and communications are properly considered. I was introduced to a basic format years ago in the military that I have found very beneficial over the years.
One of the issues faced by safety professionals (everyone really) is that of potential "Scope Drift," the gradual drift away from a plan, guideline, and/or action over time. We are pulled daily in many directions and accept small changes unconsciously eventually finding ourselves way off course. Safety, being a multidisciplinary profession, is involved with issues of urgency needing immediate attention, immediate research, immediate action to reduce a risk or hazard, as well as providing direct training, regulatory compliance advice, post loss investigators and much more. Being able to pull together a project quickly and not overlook necessary resources can
have its benefits.
The following a format is based on a format used by the military but works well for just abut anything.
- What is the Situation? This is a detailed review of the environment, concerns, problems, and assumptions regarding the project or mission to be completed. If you cannot clearly state the issues and gaps to be closed, you may or may not solve the right problem, have the right resources or be working on non-essential tasks. Without an assessment, whether minimal or detailed, you are working by the seat of your pants and reacting to each situation without considering the consequences.
- What is Your Mission? After defining the situation, develop a statement on what you intend to accomplish. What is your intended end result? Do you know what success looks like? This provides the compass to gauge the end results, establish benchmarks or milestones. How does this mission change the situation?
- What is your Action Plan? Using a project management approach, determine what steps and actions are required to accomplish your mission. How will you “execute” the project? What is the time frame desired? This directly parallels the concepts used in a job hazard analysis. How do you get where you want to go?
- What Material Support do you need? If the project is to be successful and effective, what is the budget, time, material, and tangible items of support that must be provided and organized? Do you have the support to the level needed or does the mission need to be modified or scaled back or even split into smaller elements that build on each other? Again, this is done in a the JHA process.
- Who and Where are your Human Resources? What will be their responsibilities, duties, etc.? Who will lead. manage, follow? What are the barriers to getting assistance? Are these personnel readily available and have the skills necessary to accomplish your mission? What are the skills, specialties, assets, power, and insights needed? Who are your allies, colleagues, insiders, consultants? Who will assist you in your mission?
- What and How of Communication? What methods will be used to communicate? Who needs status reports and when? Who needs to send information to you and when? What is the structure and form of the information? Will you develop blog post; communicate via social networks, presentations, e-mails, meetings, phone calls, smoke signal, etc. In many cases, senior management may require a different style communication that you need to understand. Define the time, style, methods, etc. Who needs to know what and when?
As with any plan that relies on multiple elements and coordination, remain flexible, check your map constantly, adjust and be flexible without losing sight of your mission.