Can They Do It?

There is an election coming and all we hear about is policy.  Policies are just cheap rhetoric unless swiftly followed with implementation.  Past experience teaches us that we would be foolish to believe that the politically motivated plans can and will implement efficiently.

Doing difficult things involves planning and implementation both. It is a four-part process. The idea is the easiest part.

  1. Strategy or policies that set out the nature of the problem or opportunity, the goals and the resources available to apply.
  2. Tactics set out the methods available to deal with the strategy, determine their costs and decide in context of available resources.
  3. Logistics is the specific method of implementing the tactics.  The hiring, the space and equipment, advertising or other notice to potential users, accounting, supervision, purchasing and more.
  4. The three “R’s”
    1. Record the actual results,
    2. Review the results compared to objectives,
    3. Revise to meet current or discovered situations

Military people have studied planning the longest and describe it this way:

  1. Dilettantes study strategy,
  2. Amateurs study tactics and,
  3. Professionals study logistics.

Politicians often and bureaucrats sometimes do not get past strategy. Michael Jordan has said about basketball, “Offense is fun; defense is work.”

Delivery breakdown happens because policy/strategy is easy and riskless.  It is like a college seminar.  Lots of talk, many ideas, much discussion about action, and then off to Starbucks for lattes.

In the real world, serious operators think like this,

“… in its relationship to strategy, logistics assumes the character of a dynamic force, without which the strategic conception is simply a paper plan.”
– CDR C. Theo Vogelsang, USN

You will be wise as a conscientious voter to consider how the politicians intend to actually do what they say they will. 

Logistics is the practical limit.  Unless the operators get the scarce resources of money, trained people, and clear and careful oversight, failure is certain. The goodness of the idea is not relevant.

“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…”
– Sun Tzu

If you begin with logistics, possible strategies and tactics become obvious.  As a voter, be more demanding.  Look for candidates who have real world experience with getting things done as opposed to merely talking about doing things.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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