Mission-type tactics – A project management approach


Today is Tuesday which means that another lecture of the course “Strategies, benefits and alignment” was held by Gunnar Wettergren. It was an interesting lecture that covered most of what I already read in the textbook but also some interesting reflections and examples of how to balance your portfolio and how to assess the maturity level of an organization related to portfolio management.

There’s a chain of thought that keep coming back throughout the lectures of the course; it’s interesting how the strategic management of benefit realization and portfolio management kind of relates to the military tactic used by the Swedish Armed Forces. The Swedish Armed Forces uses mission-type tactics which is a form of military tactics where the emphasis is on the outcome of a mission rather than the specific means of achieving it. Wikipedia has an extensive article about mission-type tactics which state that “in mission-type tactics, the military commander gives subordinate leaders a clearly defined goal (the objective), the forces needed to accomplish that goal and a time frame within which the goal must be reached. The subordinate leaders then implement the order independently. The subordinate leader is given, to a large extent, the planning initiative and a freedom in execution which allows a high degree of flexibility at the operational and tactical levels of command” and “the success of the mission-type tactics it is especially important that the subordinate leaders understand the intent of the orders and are given proper guidance and that they are trained so they can act independently.“.

Agile is nothing new; there is an old german, military, saying that states “nothing is enduring, except the change of situation”. The Wikipedia article continues with “a key aspect of mission-type tactics is forward control. In order to understand what is happening at the point of action and to be able to take decisions quickly, the operational commander needs to be able to observe results. The decision to deviate from original plans in pursuit of the mission must be made here for ‘friction’ to be overcome and momentum to be sustained” and “the success of the doctrine rests upon the recipient of orders understanding the intent of whoever issues the orders and acting to achieve the goal even if their actions violate other guidance or orders they have received”.

Could we see an increase in realized benefits if project managers were given the proper guidance to focus on the intent of the project rather then deliverables and requirements?

What do you think? Did you learn anything new from todays lecture? Please leave a comment!