100 yards away, we watched our enemy slink out of a building and pace down the road, AK-47 tight in hand.
From our location, camouflaged in the forest, we counted three personnel around our objective. We still had no idea how many were inside.
The goal was to clear the village of any enemy while seizing their town center. It would become our unit's center of operations.
I motioned for my radiotelephone operator to pass me the mic. I sent a transmission, asking for confirmation of the grid coordinates of my sniper team. They radioed back, and I didn't need my map to know they were in the wrong location.
The operation hinged on them being able to cover our movement into the village. We'd spent a full day planning this operation. They were our eyes as the sunset, and we switched to our night vision devices.
I sent one message back, "Are you ready?"
Though I couldn't see his team or what vantage point they had, I knew he was prepared because of one critical piece of our planning. He knew his purpose.
For teams, purpose is everything. When you understand your purpose, everything is more clear. You see things as they relate to your goals, and then you can make better decisions to achieve them.
And just like with my sniper team, if you can adopt this simple methodology, you'll find your team operating seamlessly and achieving better results.
Using the Task and Purpose Methodology For Incredible Campaign Results
First, let me apologize for the excitement. There were no medals awarded on this training mission.
It may not have made the history books, but it did prove to my team that our methodology worked. We were successful because everyone knew the purpose of their tasks.
We had decided exactly where my sniper team needed to position themselves for the best vantage, but once they arrived, they couldn't see through the dense foliage. Rather than asking me to decide where they should go next, they understand the purpose of their task: to provide overwatch. So they found a location where they still had eyes on the objective and could carry out their duty.
In marketing, too often teams depend on the knowledge of a single individual. Everyone expects the marketing manager to answer the questions about the campaign, to analyze the data, and make all the decisions on the next step.
This method is fatally flawed.
Relying on a single individual to make all the calls means the junior team members are never developing. It means that while you have the experience of the manager, you're limited by their perspective. But worst of all, it means when the manager isn't available, productivity halts.
With the task and purpose methodology, you'll find your business more innovating, productive, and professional. And all it takes is setting some ground rules.
Start With The Purpose
Simon Sinek highlights the idea that businesses should focus on purpose in his book Start With Why. He also demonstrates it in this TEDTalk.
Great leaders produce great results by focusing on the 'why,' or the purpose. By understanding why you're intent on reaching a goal, you're more likely to find the best way to accomplish it.
The idea is that if you can assign the correct purpose to individuals, you're increasing the opportunity of them getting there. They'll bypass obstacles that would normally stop progress because they know what the end goal is. They'll find better ways of achieving success because they understand the intent.
For example, if you tell a child to clean their room, it'll likely be a mess again within a few days. That's because you focused on the task. You'll have to tell them to clean it again, and then again.
But, if you were to focus on the purpose, and tell the child WHY you want them to keep their room clean, there's a greater chance it'll stay clean. They may come up a with a system to make it easier, or maybe they just add a daily chore to ensure they're meeting that purpose. But if you limit directions to a specific task, you're only going to get that.
As a marketer, if you tell your team to create a new landing page to increase conversions, they should be doing everything associated with that task, like testing CTAs, copy, and imagery. They don't need to check in to see if you want them testing options because they know the purpose is to have a higher conversion rate.
By focusing on the purpose first, you're fostering an environment of creativity where the results may surprise you.
Identify All Possible Tasks
As the saying goes, "There's more than one way to skin a cat."
While we don't recommend testing this theory, it demonstrates that there's more than one way to accomplish your goals.
When you're determining the tasks that best reach your purpose, it's important to brainstorm all possibilities. There isn't one perfect way to execute a mission, and you shouldn't limit yourself to the first task you think of.
By listing all your options and analyzing them, you could find a new way for your team to execute their work that's more effective. This improves your marketing results by enabling your team to bypass obstacles that would normally be a detriment to your campaign.
It's important to keep in mind that you need to be flexible, as tasks could change. Although you've planned for certain tasks, you need to willing to adjust on the fly if a better solution presents itself.
Since the set task is still important to the overall mission, team members should start their work, intent on completing it as outlined. If they hit a roadblock, or see an opportunity, they can then shift the course of action to better handle the situation.
Sync Other Tasks
Although the priority should be the purpose, the assigned tasks are still critical to your team's work. It expresses the action you need your team to take within your larger strategy.
For our landing page example, it means someone may be working on the copy, someone else on the CTA, and so on. Even if they all have the purpose of increasing conversions, they understand they need to do it by affecting their portion of the page. This way they're not interfering with other team members.
As long as everyone is aware of the other responsibilities, then they can see where their assigned task fits into the puzzle. This also gives them the knowledge of who to engage if they have ideas or insights about other tasks.
Improving Your Campaigns With Task and Purpose
If you can adapt this methodology into your planning, your team will have more flexibility to manage tasks, and they may surprise you with the results. You can start by turning your planning sessions into team activities where you can collect everyone's thoughts and encourage out of the box thinking. Then, ensure the purpose will lead your team towards its goal and pick out the tasks that will best get you there.
This is only one step of the process, though. Other things like providing a clear Commander's Intent and using Mission Command leadership will get your team working on a more proficient level.