Military Decision Making – It Goes Well Beyond the Military

Since the beginning of time, when making important decisions, people have taken a single piece of paper, drawn a line down the middle, and proceeded to make a pros versus cons list.  The military decision making process is certainly a more complex and thorough way of approaching decision making but it does boil down to evaluating options and weighing the pros and cons.  In the Army it’s referred to as the MDMP process, in the Marine Corps MCPP, and so on.  JMOs are taught to make decisions by evaluating various courses of actions, analyzing the risks, opportunity costs, etc. and arrive at the best decision.  However, rarely is any decision going to be perfect.   iStock_000012543293_Medium

I recently spoke with a transitioning JMO who made the decision to restrict his career search to a mid-size metropolitan area close to where he is stationed because his spouse recently found a job there and she is from that city.    As I listened to him, I asked several questions – whose career will ultimately lead?  Have you considered the challenges of conducting a very specific geographic career search?  What if 2-3 years from now you are unhappy with the job and company you go to work for?  What then?    What is the plan to look specifically in this city?  He really did not have good answers to these questions.  It made me wonder why would this be the case since he is obviously an intelligent officer and was taught theses key decision making skills?

Once the decision is made to transition and pursue a career in Corporate America, it is important to rely on and employ these decision making skills and not abandon them to emotion, “gut” feeling, “instinct”, etc.  This can be challenging when faced with a lot of opinions being offered from friends, family, etc. and the pressures of finding a new career before your old one ends.  There will certainly be emotions involved as you make the transition from the military, especially the closer you get to your separation date, but the more objective the decision process, typically the better the decision.

Every potential decision will have its own pros and cons, both short term and long term.  In our experience of helping JMOs transition to the business world, rarely have we seen good decisions made based on focusing on the short term pros and neglecting the long term cons.  In the case of this JMO, he was focused on the short term pro (getting to stay in this specific location) but was not really considering the implications of the potential long term negatives (impact to his career, etc).   At the end of the day, he might still have arrived at the same decision but having relied more on his training in decision making, he would be walking into his new situation more aware and better prepared for the potential outcomes.

As JMOs you have all received training in the art of decision making and it goes well beyond the confines of the military.  Don’t abandon it even if you eventually take off the uniform.  It will continue to serve you well.

Rob Davis