December 2017
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What Do You Need to Know?

Tool: How the military makes sure everyone knows what the boss wants to know

Soldiers love their acronyms and the more convoluted, the better. ”Commanders Critical Information Requirements”, or CCIR, is a mouthful, but still decipherable as “What the Boss wants to know”. It’s one of those military ideas worth copying.

Everyone serving in the first Gulf War knew that Norman Schwarzkopf wanted to know the moment they found anything that had anything to do with either Scud missiles or chemical weapons.

It is a perfect example of an entire organization knowing management’s information needs. Many civilian organizations manage to communicate their general priorities, but few achieve military clarity in collective information-seeking.

What do you need to know – and who is helping you find the answers?

Ask yourself a few questions about how you gather critical information.

Who are your seekers?

  • How many people do you use to gather the information you need?
  • Are you using a handful of people or everyone?

What are they looking for?

  • How many different pieces of information are you seeking?
  • Is the search prioritized?
  • Do your staff know your priorities?

A quick place to start

Norman Schwarzkopf knew that his people were busy, so he kept the list short. Military doctrine says keep the list down to a handful so that people can remember them. This seems remarkably good common sense.

What are the three most important things you want to know?

Your list can include anything you want to know. What would your list of three things look like? Five things? Your people see and hear more than you might think. The results may surprise you.

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