Left and right of arc

In the army, when you establish a fighting position one of the key tasks for the Corporal responsible for a body of troops is to establish a left and right of arc.  This means for each person in the group the Corporal will look at their position and designate the areas that they can shoot between. They will also identify where the next fire team is so that the individual does not shoot them by accident and ensure that there is enough of an overlap that there are no holes that an enemy can come in through. The covering arcs of fire provide mutual defence allowing each member to protect their position while covering their team and being covered by them.

The idea is that by telling people the boundaries of their responsibility they can concentrate on those areas properly.  This is a core part of the corporals routine each time a fighting position is set up.  Its practiced until its routine and everyone expects it to happen.

In the commercial world its a different story.  We don’t often explain what is expected of our people or give them a clearly defined set of boundaries.  Often we don’t worry about additional coverage or back up.  Staff are left to there own devices with no cover or support and then expected to either pass or fail.  As a manager the intelligent thing to learn from this is to firstly understand the capabilities of your team.  identify for you what are the important areas that you need to cover: Helpdesk phone, network monitoring, PC deployment.  Next who are the people that can do these things well and who cant.     Next work out what coverage you have and where you expect people to start and stop.

Finally once this is in place communicate it to your team and make sure each knows what the others responsibilities are.  By providing coverage to each other and ensuring that everyone knows there part you ensure that your team can function effectively and the bad guys can’t sneak in.  There’s a lot of things the military doesn’t do so well, but it is well worth considering the things they do right and how they might apply to you.

“The main thing  is to have a plan, even if its not the best plan, never be unprepared.”
-Field Marshall General Sir John Monash

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