I’ve learned the most about organizing from sports, the U.S. Navy and as part of the Incident Command System (ICS) as I became a Planning Section Chief on an All-Hazards Incident Management Team. While there are some guard rails and standards that are helpful to create org charts, the ability to quickly create an organization with the appropriate resources to fulfill the SMART objectives we talked about in episode 82 that align with the leader’s intent from episode 81 takes a little more finesse and experience.
Some of the most key, but not all inclusive, common positions between sports teams, the military and ICS structures include leaders/decision makers, operations/doers and logistics folks. In American Football, the leaders include coaches and the quarterback. Likewise, in other sports, the baseball Pitcher, basketball Point Guard and soccer’s Forwards often find themselves in decision making roles and as leaders of their respective teams. Keeping with sports, the doers are all the other players on the field who action the decisions of the leaders. Supporting all these folks are the people who make sure the equipment, supplies and facilities are all ready to go at game time. Each of the above-mentioned positions and responsibilities would fit nicely on an org chart and probably do somewhere in the team owner or general manager’s office.
Like sports teams, the military has org structures. These are rank based, but like the key positions above. Leaders are the officers and senior enlisted personnel. Operations includes the literal ‘boots on the ground’ and Logistics can include folks that do vehicle maintenance, maintain the ship and most importantly, feed the troops. Also, like sports teams, the leaders here cannot be successful alone.
Closely related to military style organization, ICS as applied practically by Incident Management Teams (IMT) has a very prescribed org structure. Command Staff includes an Incident Commander which is in charge. Operations personnel fall within the Section of the same name and can be further broken down into Branches (geographic or functional), Divisions (geographic), Groups (functional), Strike Teams (same resource types), Task Forces (mixed resource types) and Single Resources (specialists or standalone). Planning Section staff facilitate the process much like a Project Manager and the Logistics Section gets the stuff, the places and transportation.
While there is variation in how sports, military and IMTs organize, there are also common best practice I recommend be followed:
- Span of control: Having a reasonable number of people reporting to once person (3-7, 5 optimal)
- Unity of Command: Each person in the org chart reports to only one person, e.g. avoid the Office Space effect
- Unified Command: Leaders working together across patches, collar devices, company logos to create common objectives for the team to plan towards, e.g. a project Sponsor with the Steering Committee
Please listen to the full episode to hear more on these concepts and to get ideas for how you or your organization can learn to quickly pull together teams to get the ball rolling for project, special event or response success.
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Stay safe, wash your hands and Godspeed,
Kevin Pannell, PMP | Creator & Host, ‘People, Process, Progress’ | Connect and subscribe at https://linktr.ee/peopleprocessprogress
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