“Every order which can be misunderstood will be misunderstood”
Jacob Meckel, 1877
Briefing is difficult to do well and has a major impact, for it essentially determines how people are going to spend their time and what outcomes they are going to try and achieve. Few things could be more important for any business. In view of its importance and difficulty, it is remarkable that it is little taught.”
Lesson: Demand great client briefs.
Briefing is radical in the way in which it unifies effort. The effort is directed towards a desired outcome – everybody has an ultimate goal which is defined in terms of the state of affairs to be attained in the world.”
Lesson: Great client briefs define outcomes, not means.
In the backbrief three things happen. The first obvious thing is that the unit being briefed checks its understanding of the direction it has received or worked out. Secondly, and less obviously, the superior gains clarity for the first time about what the implications of their own actions actually are, and may revise them as a result. Thirdly, it provides an opportunity to ensure alignment across the organisation as well as up and down it.”
Lesson: Creative briefs should move the thinking on, not merely replicate the client brief in more cogent or interesting language.
The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results by the military historian and management consultant Stephen Bungay. It looks at how the organisational model developed by the Prussian Army in the nineteen century holds lessons for how today’s organisations and companies can more effectively execute strategy. When a former high-ranking officer in the British Armed Forces recommends you it read, you know it’s worth a read.