Connecting Strategy to Action With The Brief

Afterburner Team Written by:
Afterburner Team

Often times we see companies with fantastic strategies, but they fail to communicate that strategy to their team. This simple task that’s often forgotten is actually the key to winning the endgame. The companies that are sharing the strategy with their team and connecting strategy to action are succeeding.

Do not issue marching orders to head for the finish line until you have told your team where the finish line is.

That’s exactly why The Brief is so important.

The brief is where you have the opportunity to share with your team how you are going to carry out the plan and what you’re going to do today. We do this so that:

  1. Every member of the team is held accountable.
  2. Every question is answered before diving head first into execution.

The Brief is a critical transition from planning to execution. It connects the strategy to activity. Plans are nothing until you take action on them.

In the world of Flawless Execution, the mission is the brief; the brief is the mission.

Here are the nine steps to properly briefing your team for execution and success:

  1. Set the time. Respect your team by starting and ending on time. The way you start the mission briefing will always dictate the outcome of your execution. Sloppy brief = sloppy execution.
  2. The mission objective. The first few minutes of your brief are critical to setting the tone for the day’s entire mission. Use one phrase, one sentence that’s clear, measurable, achievable, and supports the overall Future Picture to depict the company objective. Then lay out the secondary objectives – what else can we do, within the parameters of the leader’s intent, to further accelerate the accomplishment of the future picture?
  3. The scenario. The scenario deepens buy-in by adding the feeling of personal empowerment. It tells your team why that objective is important – why what they’re about to do matters, giving them a taste of the stakes that are involved.
  4. Weather and environment. The constant, recurring factors that you have to think about every day and adjust accordingly is your ‘weather.’ In simpler terms, what does your team need to know about before executing their mission? You also need to take into consideration your ‘environment’ – the social, political, or even attitudinal factors that have the ability to affect your mission.
  5. Threats and intelligence. Identify the threats to success. Whether it be disruptive technologies, financial threats, or competitive threats, there’s always going to be something that needs to be taken into consideration. Now’s the best time to identify them and explain your counter tactics.
  6. Motherhood. We call this step motherhood because it lays down the foundation. It’s the admin that makes sure you have what you need. In businesses, there are standards for everything – standards for billing, standards for shipping, standards for customer interaction. Take all of these standard operating procedures and apply them to every mission unless you brief otherwise. This part of the brief should be short and concise.
  7. Tactics and timeline. Here is where you get into the meat of the mission and where you should spend 75% of the time. When to commit, how to do it, what formations will look like, what weapons to select, and whether or not to fall back if the odds aren’t in your favor. Make your tactics and timeline clear, and factor in variances so your team isn’t left in the dark when making decisions during execution.
  8. Contingencies. Identify the potential “what if’s” that can occur from the moment you step out of your brief to the very end of your mission. It’s better to have scripted responses laid out before the “what if” occurs than to react to the situation afterward.
  9. Wrap up. Make sure that not one single member of your team walks out of the room with a question – it’s all about accountability. After all, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Preparing a great brief takes time, so practice, practice, practice. When your team walks into the room, you’ll be ready. And always remember to leave on a high note. Now, it’s time to take action.