The Commander’s Intent


As business owners and key leaders many of us dream of having a workforce that is self-driven, wildly independent and fueled by an “adapt and overcome” attitude. Instead many are frustrated, disgruntled and have all but given up determining that this kind of workforce is nothing more than a pipe dream. 

Most of us can think of examples of high performance sports teams or special operations groups from the movies where teams are overcome by overwhelming odds yet still find some way to win the day. Often they do it under dire circumstances and normally in the face of a plan that loses traction almost as soon as it starts. We as viewers look on in awe and admiration as these seemingly underprepared teams move mountains to accomplish the mission at hand. We watch individuals with little, accomplishing a lot. Though the individuals that make up these teams are the best of the best, there is a lot more at play than many understand. 

The task of developing a team like this is extremely difficult but it’s not impossible. There are a few key elements that are absolutely vital in equipping and preparing our teams to function in this capacity. 

First, we have to provide clarity around the outcomes we need and/or expect. 

Second, we have to ensure that we train hard and train in a way that mirrors the environments our teams will be operating in.

Third, we have to provide and support clear channels of communication amongst our ranks.

Finally, we have to be sure that updated intel is being provided as the mission, day etc. progresses. 

Clarity Around What We Expect – The Commander’s Intent

One tool I learned of early in my military career was the concept of the Commander’s Intent, a tool developed to improve the Army’s planning processes in the early 1980’s. By definition it’s a simple, no-fluff statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan’s goal and the desired outcome of the operation. 

The Commander’s intent is not so specific that it identifies every step to be taken or lists every specific action to be executed and this is the case intentionally. By being somewhat ambiguous about the “HOW” and more specific on the final end state the mission must produce, it ensures the plan isn’t rendered useless in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Simply put, it allows the soldiers to improvise and align their behaviors or decision making without jeopardizing the mission.  


Training within the ranks of most restoration companies looks a lot like throwing our newest team members in a truck with a peer and hoping that they pick up what they need to through osmosis. We like to call it On The Job Training or OJT. Rarely is there any specific goal, focus or task that’s identified and trained to. Often we can have techs on our teams for months before we even begin identifying what they know or don’t know. When challenged we hear phrases like “I was never told” or “I didn’t know”. 

In elite performing teams, training is everything. Hours and hours are logged practicing specific tasks, understanding the most effective way to deploy equipment and running different scenarios. A work-up prior to a major mission will often include environments meant to closely resemble the area of operations the team will experience. Teams will run the mission over and over and over. They practice contingencies and they establish protocols for as many possible scenarios as they can. The training is intentional, proactive and prioritized. Training happens everyday, not from time to time.

It’s in this discipline of training that the team members grow their confidence and ability to “adapt and overcome”. Actions taken by individuals become less about continuous thought and far more like muscle memory. 

Their understanding of their role on the team and the use of the tools of the trade is so high that little to no thought is required. Their mental energy is dedicated and tuned to monitoring changes in the field and ensuring their course of actions is still in alignment with the goal of the mission. 

Communication Channels

I’m always a bit blown away by the lack of consistent communication we see in many organizations. Often leadership has very little understanding of their employees perspectives and assumptions tend to be the thing fueling their employee’s knowledge of the organization. Many teams fail to have any kind of consistent meeting schedules, very little consistency in day to day rhythms and even struggle to clearly define who should go to who for what. 

Communication in elite teams is never left to chance. Consistent check-ins, mission updates and pre/post reviews of activities are highly prioritized. Communication up and down the chain of command is clear and happening at a near constant rate. Organizational charts are reviewed and trained on. 

Each team member knows what they are responsible for and who to go to when it’s time to gather feedback or communicate updates. No one is left questioning who should provide what resources or who should be contacted in case of an issue. 

Feedback-rich environments are created ensuring that folks can get the support they need, receive performance guidance and establish connectivity with peers throughout the organization.


Many restoration teams attempt to do business with very little data or facts. Most struggle to adequately track costs, budgets, personnel or even equipment. Very few establish clear KPI’s or intentionally establish leading activities that ensure a high level of success in the projects they take on.

Intel is the lifeblood of any elite performing team. Data regarding the mission, changing environments, other key personnel and available resources are absolutely vital. In high performance teams intel is prioritized and sent back and forth across those communication channels we highlighted above. 

Public scoreboards tracking key aspects of our performance against goals are established and shared. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are designed to ensure the team remains focused on the most critical elements of their performance. 

Budgeting tools and resources are deployed to control costs and protect our profits. 

Quality Control calls are initiated by leadership to inspect what we expect and gather feedback from our clients. 

Changes to processes, core clients, referral partners and other key opportunities are tracked and shared with the team. 

P&L’s, along with milestone documentation and goal tracking resources are reviewed monthly with all key leaders. 

Teams can’t be prepared to win or know when and if they are winning if we don’t provide the proper intel. 

By clearly defining the outcomes expected, prioritizing training, building strong channels of communication and providing updated intel consistently throughout our operations we equip teams to be wildly independent and increase the likelihood of their success exponentially. 

Through this kind of leadership we build the kinds of teams that move mountains instead of getting high-centered on speed bumps. 

Chris and I spend some time tackling this topic in more depth in episode 63 of the Head Heart and Boots podcast:

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Brandon Reece

Brandon has spent the last 12 years building and leading restoration companies with a focus on operations and organizational development. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-leads the Floodlight Leadership Circles.  As Co-Owner of Floodlight Consulting Group, he works one-on-one with owners, managers and key personnel of restoration companies across the US.
Brandon resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 25 years, Janna, and their 2 children – Alex and Abi. To reach him, visit or email
Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.
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