strong culture. strong strategy.

one is none. two is one.

That well-worn Navy SEAL team adage is often understood to mean having backup gear when a team deploys. But it's even more appropriate when applied to the team itself. Working together as a unit, the team is a force multiplier that can accomplish far more than one person going solo. They get the job done right the first time, because in working SEAL team operations, there no such thing as a second chance.

Over the past 50 years, the American military tactics have evolved to become more dependent on a flexible, responsive force that relies on smaller units organized in teams with special skill operators to prevail against larger conventional opponents. From the outset, Navy SEALS, Army Rangers and Marine Force Recon teams train in a series of mission-focused scenarios. These training evolutions are designed not only to develop individual skills, but to improve team effectiveness and more important, reinforce team culture. They do more with less, not just because they act as a team, but also because they think as a team.

A key element in their scenario training is honing the team’s ability to adapt to constantly changing situations. What was learned from past conflicts is now useful reference data, but not dogma. Overly specific plans or too rigid roles can undermine execution because it’s not possible to account for every contingency, especially when chaos is the presumed order of the day.

Likewise, conventional ranking hierarchy needs to take a back seat to the goals of the mission. Each team member is empowered to assume mission leadership as necessary. A top-down order may have its place in defining the mission and validating decisions, but it's not useful in execution, where energy can be wasted trying to decode signals from the boss. Although decapitation can disable a top-down organization, it’s not so easily done to a team cross-trained to operate as a unit.

The team’s efforts are transparent to all stakeholders within the unit. Success is driven by each team member accepting accountability for their individual roles in the mission and the team’s shared responsibility to execute an adaptive plan consistent with the strategy.

the best practice is collaboration.

Effective execution is a team activity, requiring collective expertise, precision, discipline, and agility — assets leveraged best through early involvement. Your basic plan can leave out some of the minutia ­— but not for long, because effective execution is all about the details. While strategy is doing the right things, and effective execution is doing things right, getting things right the first time requires team involvement in the process from the outset.

The big idea is just the beginning. Whether introducing a brand, inventing a new business category, or developing a unique identity, the difference between a clever idea and market-leading reality is in the deliverables. Making it work is the most important component of a big idea. With an experienced person—one who's mastered the art of execution—involved in planning from the beginning, you can bring ideas to reality more quickly and increase your chances for success.

Comprehensive planning doesn’t need to include a checklist of absolutes. But the plan should consider probable obstacles and alternative solutions. Stuff happens. Be ready for it. Real world problems invariably crop up at the worst time and a good team will take it in stride and have the cultural code to adapt.


Our team-driven process for implementing strategy integrates best practices gained through years of creative collaboration across many different industries. This mission-focused approach transforms strategy and goals into tangible action and measurable results. We align the team around a shared vision and strategy using a sequential  “go-to-market” execution plan that invites purposeful creativity into the mix.


Discovery is a 360° snapshot of your business, taken with a lens that scans, pans, zooms and x-rays both quantitative and qualitative information. Here perception can be considered with equal weight to hard data. By knowing where we are, we can see where we want to go. What is known and unknown? What does your team need to know? Begin the process with a clean slate and thorough fact-finding, so as factors are gathered, they can be sorted and prioritized to serve the needs of the team's mission.


In the Assessment phase, known facts and assumptions are weighed to fully understand current capabilities, opportunities and limitations. We seek alignment with your available resources and mission objectives. While it may at first appear that there is nothing new to be learned in the SWOT analysis, it is essential to understand the dynamics of the resources currently available as well as those that will be needed to build the platform from which we will work. What can we do? What resources do we need?


Applying this data to multiple activity models gives us insight into how to choose and create optimal solutions. What will work? What are the options? What will it take? Scenario Planning models are mini feasibility studies that take into account financial requirements, internal impact, counter activities by competitors, customer reactions, regulatory constraints and shifting market conditions. Activities must be considered dynamically with anticipated events sorted and factored into the mix of conflicts, consequences, future gains and possible losses.


Recommendations require decisions and include commitment because change and risk are no longer theoretical constructs. Reality rules. Measuring progress against expectations may cause difficult choices to be made. Better to make them sooner than later. Progress toward your goal may require downplaying,  sacrificing or starving one asset to bolster another. Resources, deadlines, asset trade-offs, performance requirements,  priorities, sequencing, all need to be measured against practicalities of time and money.


Tactical implementation is often eventful and rarely easy. Details have their way of intruding on the best laid plans. Can we deliver as promised? Is everybody trained and ready? Are we all speaking the same language? Can your budget sustain the activities?

Deliverables need to be deployed in a timely and orderly way — no surprises at this point. With a market driven solution, a compelling story, a proven process and a fully engaged team working together for a common purpose, rewards will follow.

pulling it all together

Where do you stand in bringing your strategy into the market? Is everything aligned? Perhaps much of the early work (Discovery and Assessment) has already been done through a strategic planning exercise, market research and analysis, or your own internal process for benchmarking. That’s not just a good place to start. It becomes the foundation of everything that follows.

With a brief review for contextual alignment, fact-checking and challenged assumptions, the stage is set to complete the final three evolutions (Scenario Planning, Recommendations and Implementation). There’s a lot to be gained working as a team to implement your plan, with early involvement in the process from the outset.

If you see a compelling business reason to include us on your team on your next venture, we'd like to hear from you. We can help you develop and successfully implement an innovative and market-disrupting strategy that's right for your business.

To learn more about how our OPPORTUNITY MAPPING process could work for you and  how you can have a successful and timely execution of your strategy, e-mail to or call Gerard Cavanaugh  at 1.610.639.4485.


 © Copyright 2018 Cavanaugh Communications, Inc.


Likewise, conventional ranking hierarchy needs to take a back seat to the goals of the mission.