Strange as is might seem, especially new product development have much in common with modern warfare at an abstract level. Both have to handle uncertainty and much depends on chance.
To give an understanding and "feel" for the attitude one must possess to be really successful, we give the following description from a military textbook.
- As no plan, and thus no orders, remain valid after contact with the enemy, and
- as the very nature of combat is confusion and uncertainty, one must
- develop a system of command that allows rapid changing of plans at every level to seize the fleeting opportunities that combat confusion offers, which thus means that:
+ command initiative must be devolved to the lowest tactical levels, and
+ no formal orders can be given other than by commanders who are in physical contact with troops at the point of contact; while, at the same time,
+ all commanders, down to section level, must react to developing combat situations in accordance with the tactical and operational INTENT, as opposed to precise orders, expressed by higher commanders two links up the chain-of-command so that
+ all are functioning, one might say, in harmony. And, finally,
+ this "harmony" is dependent on a common mobile military culture, or philosophy, that is enshrined in the army's doctrine and ingrained in the minds of all soldiers through a system of war maneuvers, Kriegspiele -- staffrides and promotion values rigorously applied by the General Staff.
Clearly it does not crave much imagination to see the parallel to product development and to make good use of the ideas and philosophy behind "Auftragstaktik".
By adopting this philosophy speed and flexibility will increase, which will yield higher quality and higher performance products. For this tactic to work everyone must know the overall goal and have an ability to change between different kinds of work.
Auftragstaktik found its definite form between the world wars. It is based on the following fairly simple hypothesis:
This special method for planning and giving orders allows for large freedom as to the realization of orders. For instance were subordinate commanders invited to seize initiative and develop measures to be used if a tactical opportunity should arise.
Such opportunities can be utilized directly without order from higher command. It was assumed that by encouraging initiatives from subordinates one would gain a greater flexibility.