A Blue-Collar Approach to Operational Analysis: A Special Operations Case Study
Journal Article - Open Access
AIR FORCE SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND CENTRAL MACDILL AFB FL MACDILL AFB
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For many military commanders, the word assessment induces bouts of eye-rolling, daytime drowsiness, and, in some cases, mild nausea. This condition typically results from years of exposure to well-intentioned analysts briefing either overly complicated analysis that is unintelligible to all but the presenter or, on the other end of the spectrum, overly simplified stoplight charts and thermographs aggregated into trivial and often deceptive trends. As analysts responsible for organizing the commanders assessments at Special Operations Command Central SOCCENT, we have, at times, been those briefers, struggling to provide value to the command. However, through trial and error over 4 years and with three different commanders, we narrowed in on an analytic process that both informed decisions and catalyzed organizational change at SOCCENT. Our goal in this article is to distill those years of experience into a set of simple principles that are useful to any commander and applicable across a wide variety of requirements. This article stands on two assumptions about value-added operational analysis the analysis has to be right, and commanders must use it.1 Since commanders, not operations research and systems analysts, make assessments, analysis results are only valuable if they are trusted and allow the commander to produce faster or more informed decisions. Commanders are, above everything else, decisionmakers, and good analysis will lead to better or quicker decisions. We hope this article helps both commanders and their staffs avoid some of our mistakes along the path to more accurate and useful analysis, allowing for improved decision making across an organization.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Administration and Management