From Mission Planning to Project Management

For those of us who have served, there can be a career after the uniform. I apply the same military decision-making processes to accomplish the assigned mission as I do to conduct the project management of a tenant relocation. Many of the skills that the military has given me, translate to many civilian occupations. In the military, there are over 200 military occupational specialties (MOS) and some translate pretty close to civilian positions. When you meet someone who has served in the armed forces, you will meet an individual who has proven themselves in a highly demanding environment. There are many aspects of real estate that correlate well with military operations.

Although there are different branches in the military, they all instill basic work skills that translate to any business:

1. Discipline.

Following company policies and procedures (military: rules and regulations) It’s not just about following orders. It’s about carrying-out orders.

2. Focus

Focus on project (military: mission) accomplishment. In business, its going the extra mile. In the military, its doing what needs to be done.

3. Risk management

Risk management such as cost, schedule, quality (military: safety, security). In business, we are identifying and mitigating risk factors that reduce customer satisfaction. In the military, identifying and mitigating risk factors that reduce the chances of mission success, security of our forces, and safety of our troops. 

4. Plan – Do – Check – Act

Make a plan, execute the plan, check results, and act to improve. It is important to plan for contingencies. As we said in the military, no plan remains intact upon first contact with the enemy. In project management, the “enemy” (or challenge) may be the start of construction or the current supply chain issues.

5. Problem solving

Soldiers are taught basic  problem-solving strategies that can be applied  to civilian situations.

a. What is the problem?

b. What are the root causes of the problem?

c. What are my options? How effective are the options? How difficult are they to implement?

d. Implement the solution. Did I get the results that I expected?

6. Resource management

How do I make the best use of the resources that are available to me? In the military, it was units, people, equipment, and supplies. In real estate, it is available space, designers, contractors, vendors, and movers.

From my experience as an Army Infantry Officer, I treat every real estate transaction as a mission.  For example: Mission: Company ABC (who) needs to find a new workplace (what) in the Buckhead area (where) because the company is growing and their lease is expiring (why) in 9 months (when).

From there, I begin project planning (military: troop leading procedures) I schedule a meeting with the client to understand their space, IT, physical security, furniture, and move needs (military: understand the current situation and leader’s reconnaissance) Then, I make a project plan (military: operations order) When the project is finished, I conduct a post mortem with the team to evaluate how well the project went and capture any lessons learned (military: after action review). If you think about it, the military is a business. It has all of the same functions (and more) but may just call them different names and has plenty of acronyms. The different branches have been in business for several hundred years. It’s interesting, the military is constantly searching for civilian best practices that can be translated into the military. All-in-all, my military training and experience have helped me also “be all that I can be” as a Cresa project manager.