Org Parallels to Sports
I’ve learned the most about organizing from sports, the U.S. Navy and as part of the Incident Command System (ICS). The ability to quickly create an organization with the appropriate resources takes some finesse and experience.
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. The baseball Pitcher, basketball Point Guard and soccer Forwards often find themselves in 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. Each of the above-mentioned positions and responsibilities are all represented on an org chart somewhere in the team owner or general manager’s office.
Military and Public Safety Org Structures
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.
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 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 staff facilitate the process. Logistics gets the stuff, the places and transportation.
Helpful principles to consider:
- 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: Multi-discipline group of leaders to make joint decisions and share resources
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Stay safe, wash your hands and Godspeed,
Kevin Pannell, PMP, Creator & Host, ‘People, Process, Progress’ podcast
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