The One Thirds Two Thirds Rule is an important rule for military leaders to follow when it comes to mission planning. 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.
For instance, if your unit has a mission to accomplish six days from now, you would want to finalize your plan by the end of day two. If your unit has a mission to conduct nine hours from now, you want your finished plan published within the next three hours. This gives your subordinate leaders and units four days to do their planning and resourcing and get ready for the mission. NOTE: You also want to publish a Warning Order immediately while you finalize your plan.
This is a simple rule that gets violated all the time (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. As a Company Commander, sometimes I didn’t give my subordinates enough time to plan and get ready for 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.
Every time 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.
The moral of the story is that you need to follow the one thirds two thirds rule whenever possible. If you are in charge of others, you need to be an information sharer, not an information hoarder. Whenever you find out 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. Develop the best plan you can with all of 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 Thirds 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.