The One Third Two Thirds Rule is an important rule for military leaders to follow when it comes to mission planning. Soldiers execute, NCOs supervise, and officers plan. Write that down and remember it.
As an Army Officer, it’s critical to learn mission planning, MDMP, and the Troop Leading Procedures, so you can do your job properly and your subordinates can do their job properly. The 1/3 – 2/3 rule states that a military leader should not spend more than 1/3 of the time allocated to accomplish a mission with the planning phase.
Examples of the One Third Two Thirds Rule
If your unit has a mission to accomplish six days from now, you should finalize your plan by the end of day two. That gives you 48-hours to conduct the Military Decision Making Process or Troop Leading Procedures (depending on the size of your unit). That’s plenty of time to get things in order and complete your plan. The remaining four days, your subordinates can do their respective planning and complete the mission. The longer you take to complete and publish your plan, the less time your subordinates have to make the mission successful.
If your unit has a mission to conduct nine hours from now, you should finish and publish your plan within the next three hours. If you do your job right, it shouldn’t even take you that long. This gives your subordinate leaders six hours to make things happen. Get the picture?
NOTE: You also want to publish a Warning Order immediately while you finalize your plan. Try to publish your Warning ORDER within a few minutes (to hours) of receiving your mission from higher headquarters.
Violating the 1/3 – 2/3 Rule
This rule gets violated frequently (unfortunately) in the military. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given an OPORD or mission to accomplish with little or no time to plan. And worst of all, in many cases, the higher headquarters knew about the mission for days or even weeks beforehand. By the time I learned about the mission, I almost had to “wing it” and “shoot from the hip” just to make things happen. Of course, I got the job done, but it would have been a much smoother process if the higher headquarters had followed the one thirds two thirds rule and gave me sufficient time to do my own planning.
Heck, I’ve also been guilty of violating this rule myself, from time-to-time during my military career. I’m by no means a saint, nor am I perfect. As a Company Commander, sometimes I didn’t give my subordinates enough time to plan and execute missions. I either had a lot on my plate and didn’t manage my own time effectively (for mission planning purposes), or I received the mission from higher headquarters at the last minute.
Whenever this happened, the mission did not go the way I wanted it to. Even worse, my subordinate leaders were forced to “shoot from the hip” as well. In retrospect, I would have done a better job following the one thirds two thirds rule whenever possible.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is that you should follow the one third two thirds rule as much as possible. If you are supervise others, you must be an information sharer, not an information hoarder. Whenever you learn about a mission, send out a Warning Order immediately to the people who will be assigned to the mission. Share the information that you do know. Start your military planning immediately and finalize your game-plan as quickly as possible so your subordinates will have time to do their own mission planning.
Even if your plan isn’t perfect, that’s okay. It’s better to have an 80% solution ahead of time than it is to have a perfect solution too late. Do the best you can with what you have. Develop the best plan you can with the information that you do have, and push the orders out to your subordinates as quickly as possible. As you get additional information you can push out FRAGOs and updates as needed.
In summary, the One Third Two Thirds Rule is a military rule for mission planning. Military leaders should never take more than 1/3 of the allocated time allowed to plan for a mission. That way their subordinates have 2/3 of the available time to do their mission planning and accomplish the mission. I hope that helps.
What are your thoughts? What type of experience do you have with mission planning? What do you do to manage your time effectively so your subordinate leaders have enough time to do their planning? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions about the 1/3-2/3’s rule, you can ask them below too.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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