'Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult. These difficulties accumulate and produce a friction, which no man can imagine exactly who has not seen war.'
- Carl Von Clausewitz, On War
Every worker who has sought to engage in the workplace knows the friction of accumulated difficulties.
Widget clarity is the key to victory.
Simplicity in the difficulty begins with the duty statement, job description or whatever the boss calls the piece of paper that defines the Widget and how she wants it to be made.
Few organisations write good job descriptions. They rank second to policies as effective dust collectors. You're already in trouble before the artillery barrage of opinions has started.
The military is a good model of how to write good job descriptions. It needs its soldiers, sailors and airmen to have absolute clarity about who they need to kill, how and when. They need simplicity wherever possible amidst the chaos when the enemy is trying to kill them.
Precision starts at the top and cascades down. The boss needs to be clear about what her job is.
These extracts from the job description for the Chief of the Defence Force written by his boss the Minister of Defence are an excellent example of Widget clarity. (You can almost hear the hum of the tension in the leash of democracy restraining the application of maximum violence):
Preamble: In accordance with my powers under s8 of the Defence Act....I give you strategic direction to achieve the Government’s defence outcomes.
Accountability: You are accountable to me for Defence’s performance, having regard to our statutory responsibilities. Any authorisation or delegation of my authority with respect to Defence is through you within the limitations below.
Results: I expect you to deliver:
a. ....operational deployment of the ADF to enhance our national strategic interests and our alliance relationships, to strengthen regional security and to successfully conduct joint military exercises and operations
b. Identification, development and provision of current and future capability to enable our armed forces to defend Australia and its national interests;
c. Enhanced intelligence, strategic policy, scientific and information capabilities, responsive to whole-of-government requirements;
d. Timely, accurate, coordinated and considered advice to the Minister and Government;
e. Proper stewardship of people, through developing and maintaining workforce skills and career structures, building and maintaining Defence’s reputation and providing a living and working environment that attracts and retains people;
f. Sound management of financial and other resources, operating within budgeted financial performance, meeting statutory requirements for preparing financial statements and optimal management and use of the Defence estate; and
g. Appropriate planning, evaluation and reporting documents, including an annual Defence Management and Finance Plan, and periodic Strategic Reviews and White Papers incorporating the above.
Guidance: You should pursue these results through effective leadership and management; and should ensure that:
a. Your actions are prudent, ethical and lawful;
b. Your actions are consistent with:
i. Government Policy
...your role as principal military adviser and statutory responsibilities and authority as commander of the Defence Force under the Defence Act 1903; and
c. You make your decisions and offer advice considering
i. The impact on relationships with others who contribute to national security, including with the leadership of Foreign Armed Forces and other Australian agencies with national security interests,
ii. My separation Directive to the Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation,
iii. The risk to the sustainable delivery of Defence outputs; and
iv. The CDF’s proposals for promotions to Brigadier equivalent and above are made in consultation with the Secretary, VCDF and the Service Chiefs.
Minister for Defence