Background Ops #5: The Nature of Operations
22 MONTHS BEFORE THE NAZI INVASION
Khalka River, Mongolia
“During the night all movements were “jammed” by noise specifically created by aircraft, artillery, mortar, machine-gun and rifle fire, conducted according to a strict schedule that was dovetailed with the movements.
For purposes of camouflage, we used special sound equipment which imitated aircraft engines, the driving in of wooden piles, etc. We began to use this equipment 12–15 days before the planned movement of the shock groups to accustom the Japanese to the noises. At the beginning the Japanese mistook them for real troop movements and began to fire at the areas from which the noises came. Later, they either got used to it or realized what it was, and usually stopped paying attention to all noises, which was exactly what we wanted during the real regrouping and concentration of forces.
To prevent the enemy from getting wind of our offensive, its plan [was briefed to only four of the most senior commanders] [… and] only one typist typed out the plan of the operation, the combat orders and other operational papers.
With the time of the offensive drawing nearer, various categories of officers were successively put in the know, beginning four days and ending one day before the operation. Soldiers and officers got their combat orders three hours before the offensive.
Further events and the entire course of our offensive demonstrated that the special misinformation of the enemy, camouflage, and other arrangements to ensure surprise, played an extremely important role, for the enemy was indeed caught unawares. […]
On August 20, 1939, Soviet and Mongolian troops began their general offensive aimed at surrounding and wiping out the Japanese troops.
It was a quiet and warm Sunday. The Japanese Command, confident that the Soviet and Mongolian troops were not even thinking of an offensive, allowed the generals and senior officers to take their Sunday leaves. Many of them were far away from their troops […] We had taken this important factor into consideration when picking the day to launch the offensive.
At 6:15 a.m. our artillery opened up for all it was worth against the enemy anti-aircraft guns and machine guns. Some of our batteries lobbed smoke shells on the objectives to be bombed by our aircraft. […]
At nine sharp, when our aircraft was strafing the enemy and bombing his artillery, red flares went up announcing the beginning of the offensive. The attacking units, covered by artillery fire, charged.
Our air and artillery strike was so powerful and successful that the enemy was morally and physically depressed. During the first hour and a half he could not even return gun fire. The Japanese observation posts, communication lines, and fire positions were destroyed. […]
The Japanese fought to the last man. But gradually their soldiers came to realize the flimsiness of the official propaganda that the Imperial [Japanese] Army was invincible, since it was suffering incredibly heavy casualties without winning a single battle in four months. […]
On August 31, 1939, the last of the seats of resistance of the 6th Japanese Army, which had invaded the Mongolian People’s Republic, were wiped out. Visiting our troops, Comrade Choibalsan cordially thanked our soldiers for sealing with their blood their loyalty to the commitments they had taken upon themselves. The devastating counter-offensive of the Soviet and Mongolian troops, the unheard of defeat of a crack Japanese army made the Japanese ruling quarters reconsider their views on the power and readiness of the Soviet Armed Forces, and especially on the morale of Soviet soldiers. “
— Georgy Zhukov, The Autobiography of Soviet Marshal Zhukov, Ch 7: “The Undeclared War on the Khalkhin Gol”, 1965
Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov is certainly one of the most important figures of the last 100 years who is generally unknown in the West. The surprising rout of the Imperial Japanese Army at Khalkin Gol led to the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact and is largely recognized by historians as a major reason that the Japanese never opened a second front against Russia in World War II, even after the Nazis invaded during Operation Barbarossa.
The Soviets were losing at Khalkin Gol under bad commandership when Zhukov arrived; he turned the tides immediately and destroyed the Japanese Army there.
When the Nazis invaded in 1941, the Russians were largely caught unaware — Stalin’s purges of the military in previous years had taken the Soviet military out of readiness and, initially, the Germans and their Axis allies savaged the Russians all along their invasion route.
Zhukov was one of the first commanders to win victories against the Nazis, taking over the defense of Leningrad, commanding at the Battle of Moscow and on the Russian Central-Western front, and eventually becoming the commander entrusted with the defense of Stalingrad — the place where the Nazis were definitively turned back.
Later, he was one of the commanders of the Soviet Counteroffensive and the Drive on Berlin, eventually being given the honor of accepting the German Instrument of Surrender.
By my reckoning, if any of those battles that Zhukov turned had gone the other way — Khalkin Gol, Leningrad, Moscow, or Stalingrad — it’s very possible that World War II would have ended in stalemate… if not outright Axis victory.
Zhukov is well-known in military circles, but hardly known outside of military circles in the West. This is a shame on a lot of levels: first, he had keen insights about people and technology that are worth learning. Second, he fell out of favor after World War II and was largely isolated — but luckily escaped purge and execution. As such, he had time to write a detailed set of memoirs about the development of the Russian military from World War I in which he served briefly, through the Russian Civil War, and finally into World War II and its aftermath.
His autobiography is extremely informative on many levels about history and about the development of effective soldiering — in particular, he was a master operationalist, which is what we will seek to learn from him.
TSR’S SERIES ON BACKGROUND OPS, ISSUE #5: THE NATURE OF OPERATIONS
We are at the midpoint in our exploration of Background Operations, following from Sir Alfred North Whitehead’s observation –
“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”
But now we should stop for a moment and ask: what are operations, exactly?
We all know roughly what the word “operations” means — it’s one of the words that’s fairly clear on a quick look.
Though, if you sit and really ask, what are ops? — often, crickets. We can’t answer precisely.
Certainly it would be a good thing to get clarity on what operations fundamentally are, how to develop an operational mindset, and how to develop and execute important operational plans.
To do so, we’ll need to place operations in their proper context alongside philosophy or doctrine, strategy, and tactics. That will be the thrust of this issue, with Marshal Zhukov’s experience in leading armies the example we look to learn from.
PHILOSOPHY, DOCTRINE, MORAL SENTIMENT, RELIGION, RELIGIO
Before getting into operations, we should step way back and examine first principles.
Why do people do anything?
At the highest level, we can say that people do things because of their personal philosophy or — though the term has become somewhat polluted in recent years — their religion.
Back in 1840, the Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle wrote in On Heroes –
“It is well said, in every sense, that a man’s religion is the chief fact with regard to him. A man’s, or a nation of men’s. By religion I do not mean here the church-creed which he professes, the articles of faith which he will sign and, in words or otherwise, assert; not this wholly, in many cases not this at all. We see men of all kinds of professed creeds attain to almost all degrees of worth or worthlessness under each or any of them. This is not what I call religion, this profession and assertion; which is often only a profession and assertion from the outworks of the man, from the mere argumentative region of him, if even so deep as that. But the thing a man does practically believe (and this is often enough without asserting it even to himself, much less to others); the thing a man does practically lay to heart, and know for certain, concerning his vital relations to this mysterious Universe, and his duty and destiny there, that is in all cases the primary thing for him, and creatively determines all the rest. That is his religion…”
Everyone — everyone — has this sort of personal religion. Even if you believe in nothing and believe that nothing matters, that is still something.
We’ve explored this concept many times in the past at The Strategic Review; it is slightly beyond the scope of this piece on operations. But take Carlyle again –
“The thoughts they had were the parents of the actions they did; their feelings were parents of their thoughts: it was the unseen and spiritual in them that determined the outward and actual; — their religion, as I say, was the great fact about them.”
In military terms, the equivalent would be doctrine — military doctrine asks the question, “What do we think will win the war?”
Before any strategy, tactics, or operations, there comes the why of things.
Don’t get too hung up on individual words — for my part, I typically use the Latin word “religio” to denote personal religion, as distinguished from organized religion. You could also call this “philosophy” or “moral sentiments.” In business, it might sometimes be called “vision” — though that word is certainly getting a little bit threadbare in 2017.
Reading about Zhukov’s early life in his autobiography — the poverty and hard times out in the village he was born in, seeing his parents suffer, entering into an apprenticeship in Moscow and getting fearfully beaten for the smallest error, fighting under indifferent and often callous Imperial Russian officers in World War I — you can see his religio, his orientation towards the world, start to form.
He’d eventually become a devoted Bolshevik Communist. On a large military scale, the Red Army would set doctrine during various party congresses and during political and war planning.
We won’t go too long this issue into the concept of religio and doctrine, except to note that an individual always has one, even if not formally articulated. We all relate to the world and understand, on some level, our purpose here. This is the first origination of all our actions.
FROM PHILOSOPHY TO STRATEGY
If one’s philosophy or religion is why, strategy is then how.
Zhukov reported in his memoirs that in May 1939 he was summoned to Moscow and inquired about his orders –
“On entering Voroshilov’s office [at the Defense Ministry] I reported my arrival. He inquired about my health, and said:
“Japanese troops have made a surprise attack and crossed into friendly Mongolia which the Soviet Government is committed to defend from external aggression by the Treaty of March 12, 1936. Here is a map of the invasion area showing the situation as of May 30.””
Soviet strategy — though still not fully defined until Zhukov assumed command — was first broadly sketched as “defend Mongolia from external aggression by the Japanese… and win decisively enough that the Japanese would not want to fight the Soviet Union again.”
There are a variety of reasons that the Soviets chose to defend Mongolia and decisively oppose Japanese expansion there, tying into Soviet foreign policy, their assessment of the aims of Imperial Japan, the status of their armed forces, the situation in Europe, etc.
There was a general Soviet philosophy and doctrine of protecting socialist countries, especially along their borders and in their sphere of influence.
Strategically, the Soviet Defense Ministry had broadly decided to oppose the Japanese forays and border skirmishes straightaway and to send Zhukov to work out the more detailed strategy on the ground.
FROM STRATEGY TO TACTICS
If philosophy is why and strategy is how, tactics are what.
After assessing the conditions at Khalkin Gol and conducting reconnaissance, Zhukov eventually settled on the strategy of amassing a large amount of forces under the utmost conditions of secrecy, in order to bring a large-scale battle with the element of surprise against the Japanese.
In the opening, we already read some of the tactics deployed under Zhukov’s command –
“For purposes of camouflage, we used special sound equipment which imitated aircraft engines, the driving in of wooden piles, etc. We began to use this equipment 12–15 days before the planned movement of the shock groups to accustom the Japanese to the noises.”
That’s a tactic. Making a lot of noise in advance of moving in troops and supplies, in order to accustom the Japanese to the noises and reduce their alertness — this is a tactic.
Under Zhukov’s command, a number of other tactics to generate surprise were implemented –
“We knew that the enemy tapped our telephone wires and intercepted radio messages. So we decided to deceive him with radio and telephone reported that were elaborated to concern nothing but the construction of defences and preparations for the autumn and winter. The radio exchanges were mainly in a code that could be easily deciphered.”
And another –
“We had printed thousands of instruction leaflets for the soldiers in the defence lines. These were passed on to the enemy so that the Japanese should be convinced of the political orientation of the Soviet and Mongolian troops [being on the defensive only and not preparing any attacks].”
Each of these individual tactics were designed to mislead the Japanese that the Soviet Russian and Mongolian forces were digging in on the defensive and not preparing any offensive operations.
FROM TACTICS TO OPERATIONS
All of this is reasonably straightforward.
We all do things for reasons, stated or unstated. We could call this philosophy or personal religion as applied to individuals. In wartime, armies have doctrine. Etc. The broad Soviet philosophy and doctrine is beyond the scope of this piece but you likely know much of it already.
If philosophy is why, strategy is how. Strategically, broadly, the Russians decided to defend Mongolia against Imperial Japanese encroachment — and to win a decisive battle so that Soviet forces would not appear weak and be an inviting target for assault by Imperial Japan. Zhukov was appointed to formulate the more specific strategy. He chose to amass forces under a condition of surprise and bring a decisive large-scale battle against the Japanese at Khalkin Gol.
With the strategy set, the tactics are how. The Russians and Mongolians did a bunch of very specific things to cultivate surprise — playing noise loudly at night to cover troop and equipment movement, handing out training materials purely about taking a defensive stance knowing they would fall into Japanese hands, keeping radio and telephone communications focused on boring defensive details knowing that those channels were tapped.
What are operations, then? I think operations are more elusive to understand. The concept of ops is both very simple and very complicated.
My definition of operations: the coordination of tactics over time.
Philosophy is why; strategy is how; tactics are what… but I don’t think operations are who or where or when exclusively… operations are all of that and then some.
THE CHALLENGE OF “GETTING” OPERATIONS
A very small number of people are naturally excellent operationalists; ops just click mentally with them. This type of person is rare, but tends to do well in the world. Incidentally, I’m not one of them.
For the rest of us, it can be very hard to truly “get one’s mind around” operations. Part of the challenge of “getting” ops is that it’s incredibly simple on the surface. The simplest tools for operations probably involve making basic lists — a to-do list, a checklist, or similar. These tools are appropriate when the individual actions to be done — the tactics — don’t have to happen in any particular order, and no other complexity needs to be managed.
So, if you’re working by yourself and the order you do things doesn’t matter, you can simply use a to-do list (for a bunch of unrelated tasks) or a checklist (for a set of commonly repeated tasks).
Once time comes into the picture, you need to add managing the calendar. Once time and multiple people come into the picture, you need to add managing schedules.
Again, this is both simple and complicated. The concept of having work shifts in a company or other organization is fairly straightforward — but anyone who ever worked as a manager at even as simple of an operation as a coffee shop can tell you that getting everyone on the right shifts might not be as simple as it seems on first glance!
When money and payments come into the equation, you need to handle those — there’s basic tools for bookkeeping and recording expenses; those need to be employed. There’s standards and tools in accounting for managing money and assets over time. If you don’t collect all of your money up front in business, you need some way to deal with receivables and collecting money owed. You have to keep track of bills and ensure they’re paid on time. You need to ensure that the people who are paying the bills have access to the bank accounts, but that there’s appropriate controls in place so money doesn’t get stolen or wasted.
You can see how the complexity can grow quickly — so far, we’ve only talked about tasks (to-do lists and checklists), time (calendar and schedules), and money (bookkeeping, invoices, bill payments, accounting, bank accounts, cash controls).
Every single one of these elements is rather quite simple by itself, and this is a big part of what makes “getting” operations hard. Because we can understand each piece very easily, ops can seem trivial. Actually, as you layer more and more elements together, it gets quite hard to get right — but most people don’t realize that and underestimate the difficulty of making all the elements work together.
When it comes to complicated topics like genetics or nuclear engineering, we all tend to realize right away that we don’t fully understand the topic, and tend to respect the difficulty of the domain. But, because the majority of operations are a set of simple elements, it’s easy to underestimate the difficulty of coordinating them all successfully at the same time.
It’s easy to mistakenly think we “get” operations because each individual piece makes easy and intuitive sense to us — but the point of operations isn’t at all the individual pieces, but rather finding the right combination to getting everything working together. This is much harder to do in practice than it looks on paper.
INTEGRATION ACROSS THE SPECTRUM
There was an excellent unclassified paper on Zhukov written in 1998 by U.S. Navy Commander Clayton Kyker, The Genesis of an Operational Commander: Zhukov at Khalkin Gol –
“Because Zhukov was a uniquely Soviet commander, it is necessary to examine the environment in which he developed professionally. In a sense, Zhukov and the Red Army came of age together. Both emerged from the ashes of the Tsarist army and were shaped by the subsequent twenty years of civil war, debate, reform, and crisis. The son of a shoemaker and a furrier himself by trade, Zhukov was drafted into the Tsarist cavalry in 1915 at the age of 18. He joined the new Red Army at the outbreak of the Civil War and was wounded in the defense of Tsartisyn, the city that would later be renamed Stalingrad.
The experience of the Civil War led to a bitter debate over the form the new Red Army would take. One faction, led by Commissar for War Leon Trotsky, was deeply suspicious of military professionals and argued that the Red Army should take the form of “labor armies”, essentially a militia wing of the proletariat. The opposing faction, led by M. V. Frunze contended that only a professional military, guided by the Communist Party leadership could ensure the survival of the Soviet Union in a capitalist world.
What emerged was a compromise of sorts. The Red Army was allowed a general staff, a professional officer corps and professional journals. However, several holdovers from the Civil War era were retained. One was the retention of the political commissars. The Communist Party’s lingering suspicion of “military specialists” led to a dual command structure which required each military commander to have a coequal political commissar selected for his political reliability. Another more symbolic concession to “egalitarian” Bolshevik ideals required that Red Army soldiers neither display rank insignia on their uniforms nor salute superiors.”
The paper is terrific; I encourage you to read it. You’ll learn some history and you’ll become a smarter operationalist if you read it.
Note well — Commander Kyker is looking at the fundamental levels of character, philosophy, religion, and doctrine to start. If you ignore how Zhukov came to fundamentally understand the world and the general outline and mental orientation of the Red Army at the time of the border war with Imperial Japan, or shortly thereafter, the Nazi Invasion, you’ll fail to understand and grasp the lessons of how and why things happened.
Zhukov’s challenge at Khalkin Gol was not a matter of simply organizing forces, equipment, ammunition, and timetables to attack and defeat the Japanese — no, he also had to navigate all the personalities and beliefs of the various soldiers, military officers, political officers, allies, and enemies in the region.
Zhukov had certain sets of tools, morale, and equipment to work with at Khalkin Gol. He had to persuade Soviet high command, both Stalin’s representatives at the battle site, and headquarters back in Moscow, of the value of sending more equipment and forces, and of taking certain actions. Thankfully for Zhukov, some of the most productive Russian thinking on operations had developed over the previous decade –
“Like theorists in the west, the Soviets were determined to avoid the positional battles, and accompanying carnage of World War One. At the same time, the Soviets attempted to place these “deep” operations within a strategic context. In effect, they created a new level of war between the tactical level of a battle and the strategic level of the war. This intermediate level of war became the basis of operational art. One Soviet writer summarized: “Tactics make the steps from which operational leaps are assembled, strategy points out the path.””
Finally, Zhukov’s goal wasn’t to merely win the local battle, but rather to persuade Japanese high command to make no further excursions or attempts against the Soviets in the Far East. Kyker –
“At Khalkin Gol, Zhukov recognized the nature of the fight he was about to undertake. The operation’s objective was not simply to regain Mongolian territory; it was about dissuading the Japanese from future moves against the Soviets in the Far East. As Christopher Bellamy and Joseph Lanstein wrote: “There was nothing defensive about the conduct of the battle itself, or indeed about the plan to trap and destroy the Japanese forces (there was never any question of simply pushing them back: that would not have had been a permanent solution and would hot have had the required traumatic effect).””
Kyker’s paper traces the lines of all of philosophy/doctrine/religion, operations, strategy, and tactics. They have to work harmoniously.
“Beginning at Khalkin Gol, intensive logistic preparation became a Zhukov hallmark. The Japanese underestimated the Soviets in many ways. In particular, they never imagined the Soviets would be able to sustain a large combined arms force on the Mongolian frontier, nearly 600 kilometers from the nearest railway. Yet, during the artillery duals leading up to the offensive, it was the Soviet gunners who were able to fire several rounds to each fired by the enemy. This was true despite the fact that the Soviet supply lines were much longer than those of the Japanese. This would again set the pattern for later operations against the Germans. Time and again, Zhukov ensured that operational plans included the logistic underpinnings necessary for success. This often extended beyond food and ammunition. One example is evident at Kursk, where the Germans lost hundreds of tanks due to damage or mechanical breakdown. German tank recovery and repair units, operating from the rear, were simply unable to get to the front. The Soviet tank repair battalions, on the other hand, operated with the armored units themselves. Though they were exposed to higher losses, the Soviet tank repair units were able to quickly return hundreds of broken down or damaged tanks to combat.”
Of course, we’ve already covered a number of the tactics employed at Khalkin Gol — generating noise at night, allowing misleading radio and telephone orders to be intercepted, creating training manuals for defensive warfare and handing them out to the troops so that they’d fall into Japanese hands, and otherwise gathering a very large assault force in secret while the Japanese did not know this was happening.
Zhukov was a brilliant operationalist — arguably one of the best in history. He integrated an understanding of the philosophy and doctrine of his country and his allies, understand those of his rivals and adversaries, grasped and formulated strategy especially around a surprise large-scale assault, generated a series of tactics to support those maneuvers, and coordinated all of it over a period of months to run the campaign out to successful conclusion.
Again, operations aren’t who or where or when — it’s coordinating and integrating everything across the spectrum. Any given piece of the equation might be relatively simple to understand; the difficulty comes in understanding and ensuring that all the pieces come together effectively to produce the result.
On the morning of 20 August 1939, Soviet and Mongolian troops completely encircled the Imperial Japanese troops at Khalkin Gol. Of the 30,000 Imperial Japanese Army troops encircled, only 400 escaped back to Japanese lines in Manchuria.
22 months later, in June 1941, Nazi Germany would launch Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. The Russians almost fell to the Germans at this point — it was one of the most intense invasions in history, and barely failed. If a single battle had gone differently, it might have been a Nazi victory on the Eastern Front in 1941.
Throughout the entire Nazi Invasion campaign, Imperial Japan never opened a second front in the Far East against the Soviet Union. Had they done so, it might well have been a stalemate — or Axis victory.
Historians largely credit Zhukov’s performance at Khalkin Gol in both persuading the Japanese to sign a neutrality pact with the Soviet Union in April 1941, and Japan not breaking that neutrality throughout World War II — when opening a second front in the Far East might well have led to Axis victory.
At Khalkin Gol, Zhukov was able to discern the philosophical and doctrinal currents of his entire command and leadership, narrow the broad strategy of defeating Imperial Japan along the Mongolian border into a specific strategy of a large-scale assault and envelopment following surprise, generated a number of tactics to build up his forces with the Japanese Army being unaware of the build-up, and coordinated operationally across the spectrum to ensure the operation’s success.
We’ll stay with Marshal Zhukov for next issue, Background Operations #6: Strength and Weakness, in blunting the tide of the initial the Nazi Invasion before turning the war at Stalingrad, and then driving on Berlin. There’s a few more lessons to learn.
For now, ideally we have a little better clarity on what operations are. Philosophy sets the why, strategy the how, and tactics the what — but operations aren’t exclusively when or where or who… operations are all of that and then some. Operations means coordinating and integrating everything relevant so that the job gets done successfully.
An entire mastery of operations is of course beyond the scope of this piece, but for those looking to put these lessons into practice, two pieces of guidance can stand out –
1. Though operations cannot be understood by the individual pieces alone, the best practices of implementing and running the individual pieces are critical to learn.
If you don’t have a natural disposition towards operations, then, frankly, a lot of it can be quite boring to learn and put into practice. Yet, operations are the glue that holds all complex endeavors together.
To learn and train in operations, you can start by understanding and learning any of the individual pieces of operations. In this way, it’s very helpful to get granular. There are better and worse ways to run meetings. There are better and worse ways to coordinate your calendar. There are better and worse ways to define and write tasks. There are better and worse ways to coordinate supplies. Likewise, quality control, customer support, invoicing, hiring, promotion, training, transportation, shipping. Likewise, reporting, analytics, measurements. Safety, testing, fixing bugs, integrations, hardware, software.
These days, most of the best practices for any given action can be learned if you can find the right materials in a book or on the internet. There are better and worse ways to write emails — this is a somewhat boring thing to study and put into practice, but doing it makes you a better communicator forever. There are better and worse ways to write an agenda for a meeting and run the meeting — again, this is a little boring but makes you better forever. Money management, cash control, spending, purchasing, paying bills, invoicing, collecting money, investing — all of these can be somewhat boring to study and get down if they don’t naturally appeal to you, but they’re essential for success in both one’s personal life and in organizational success.
Learning the best practices of individual fundamental actions won’t make you an excellent operationalist alone, but you can’t be excellent at operations without knowing them.
After getting an understanding of the best practices of individual pieces of operations, then,
2. Study and learn how different pieces of operations fit together over time, practice analyzing where one’s operations are the weakest, and how to improve operations across the spectrum.
Plans can fail because they were ill-conceived at the highest level of assumptions — if you misunderstood the nature of reality or your philosophical or doctrinal level assumptions were wrong.
Plans can underperform at the strategic level, if the wrong strategy is chosen.
Plans can underperform or fail at the tactical level, due to either selecting the wrong tactics or poor execution of tactics.
And plans can fail at the operational level — even when you get all the big pieces largely correct, you can fail to coordinate all of them together elegantly to produce the result.
Periodically, you want to study the whole spectrum of your and your organization’s philosophy/doctrine/religio/assumptions, your strategy, your tactics, and your operations. The tactical actions you perform have to be inline with your philosophical orientation and the strategic targets set.
This takes a long time to learn — reading case studies, memoirs, and studying successful complex organizations and campaigns can help in learning. But nothing takes the place of studying how the operations are connecting and integrating across your own life, both personally and in any organization you’re part of.
This is, sadly and by necessity, somewhat abstract guidance. We are all after slightly different things, and as such, all will have slightly different operations. To master ops, you’ll have to both learn the individual simple best practices for any given action, and then study how they’re integrated across the spectrum.
It’s hard work, but it’s the only way to have large-scale complex successes in life. And, as much as it can be boring to start learning, once the pieces start clicking and snapping into place, it becomes very joyful to behold.
Being able to sketch up plans that are grounded in good assessment, with appropriate measures taken to reach one’s goals, and then ensuring these all happen over time — it can be a very beautiful thing, indeed.
We’ll stay with Marshal Zhukov next week as he turns back the tide of Nazi aggression. Until then, yours,
This is the fifth issue in TSR’s series on Background Operations. If you’re interested in operations and effectiveness in general, you might like to join us on Saturday 16 December for a round of Work Cycles — a lightweight framework for accomplishing work quickly. It’s free to attend, you can read more about the methodology and register here —