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Officer shares cookie-cut approach to organizational success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sean Patterson
  • 387th Air Expeditionary Group
One of my favorite items at the dining facility is the cookies on the desert bar. I don't know all the ingredients or the amounts needed to make them, but I do know making a batch of cookies requires vigilance in following a recipe. A baker consistently selects the ingredients and mixes very specific amounts together to form the dough. He then places the dough in an oven for a set time to create a delicious treat, time and time again.

Ever wonder how an organization consistently meets or exceeds mission objectives time and time again? Generally, the answer lies in the following; understanding the commander's intent, selecting organizational objectives that are aligned with the commander's intent, and finally executing and measuring the necessary tasks to achieve the objectives while minimizing wasted time and effort. Let's take a closer look at each step of the process.

The first step in achieving success is to understand the commander's intent. What type of cookie are we attempting to make? What are the basic ingredients needed? What do we want it to taste like? As it relates to the organization, what is the end result the commander wants to achieve? What are other considerations members are required to know before launching the organization and its resources toward that end? Once commander's intent is understood, the next step of creating a strategic road map can begin.

Creating a strategic road map is the second critical step in the process as it provides the direction each part of the organization should be working toward. Organizations that are diligent, create a strategic vision (recipe) that focuses the organization on developing objectives and goals that meet or will achieve the commander's intent. It's within this step that the organization selects the right type and amount of ingredients to form a perfect recipe.

The recipe is written down and can be handed to the next rotation as family cookie recipes are handed between generations. In today's Air Expeditionary Force environment, the organization continues successfully regardless of personnel and the dwell time in the organization.

The final step for organizational success is to execute the necessary tasks to achieve the unit's objectives and goals while minimizing wasted time and effort on tangential targets. This is where the organization applies the right skills and resources in the right amount at the right time.

In the cookie business, this is where the baker adds the appropriate ingredients in the right amount, uses the right tools and bakes the cookies at the right temperature. All the while, he makes adjustments based on the number of cookies he wants to produce, the altitude at which he is baking and type of oven being used. Similarly, the organization must continually make adjustments to ensure it is achieving the required outcome.

Organizational success stems from a disciplined approach of understanding the commander's intent, creating a strategic vision, executing the goals and objectives and applying a continual process of measurement and review of the organization's efforts. Why not try the cookie-cut approach to organizational success today and leave a lasting legacy to those who will follow you.