Feb 25

Space-Ops Strategy: Operational Readiness

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Last week we talked about the importance and concept of planning in the Star Citizen universe so this week I thought it would be interesting to talk about planning’s close cousin, operational readiness. Defined as the capability of a ship, unit, or organization to perform the missions or functions for which is has been organized or designed, Operational Readiness is concerned with questions like: What are the things an organization needs to do in order to be prepared and ready to succeed in the ‘Verse? And how do we measure an organizational unit’s level of operational readiness?

There’s an old saying in strategy: If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So let’s take a look at the various dimensions of operational readiness and think about how we might measure them.

Operational readiness venn digramPersonnel

High-quality, well-trained, and eagerly motivated people in the appropriate numbers and ranks necessary to accomplish your goals make up the first dimension of readiness. In terms of measuring personnel, the relevant questions are:

  • What are the aggregate numbers?
  • What is the rank and skill level of each individual?
  • For what roles is each individual trained?
  • What is the morale, motivation, and cooperation of each individual?

For the purposes of running an organization in the ‘Verse it’s probably not necessary to have dozens of unique ranks. Smaller units will clearly have a need for a person who sets goals/outlines the vision and for people who work towards those goals. In larger organizations there will be a need for ranks between these two, for those who coordinate the execution against goals. Avoid over complicating rank, but don’t overlook it.

Equipment

Equipment includes all assets. Ships, guns, ammunition, fuel, planet side vehicles, and more. In terms of equipment, the overriding question is fairly obvious: Based on the requirements associated with your goals, do you have the necessary equipment to be successful? Equipment readiness is further broken down into the following:

  • Total number of assets, grouped by type
  • Operational status of each asset

Another tangential factor to consider when thinking about equipment which will affect operational readiness is whether your fleet is too big to effectively maintain, given your income. An interesting aspect of strategy is the effective application of resources and it’s as important not to over-invest, given the scope of an organization’s goals.

Training

One of my personal favorites: Are personnel appropriately trained for the roles and responsibilities they will be required to carry out? This is possibly the most overlooked aspect of simulation gaming, due to many gamers generally overlooking the critical nature of competency in complex gaming environments. Even in it’s earliest iterations of Arena Commander, success or failure depends heavily on an individual pilot’s ability to equip and fly their ship effectively. What we know about the PU is roles and responsibilities are only going to get more complex and demanding, making training a mission critical detail.

The best form of welfare for the troops is first-class training, for this saves unnecessary casualties. -Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

Realistic, demanding training will provide personnel with confidence in their own capabilities and builds confidence in teams. It is also a leadership development tool for a variety of reasons. Teaching is the final phase in mastery of any subject: Learn, Do, Teach. In the absence of real combat, training also teaches junior leaders important opportunities to lead in a safe environment while giving their superiors an opportunity to observe their leadership capability.

Time (or Spacetime, for the ‘Verse)

Or, to be more specific, the expected response time of your organization. By way of examples, this number should be very low for defense contractors providing QRF (Quick Reaction Force) for hire or an emergency search and rescue squad. On the other end of the spectrum, this number would likely be much higher for a mining operation moving hundreds of individual assets into a newly discovered asteroid field.

There is no globally correct response time; it depends entirely on the organization and their mission. The only critical factor is that it is known accurately so leadership can make intelligent decisions about how to allocate resources.

Operational Readiness: For the mission

The final question relative to operational readiness is quite simple: Ready for what? In other words: What is the specific mission we are attempting to be ready to accomplish? Similar to the question of response time, this will vary by organization but it’s a critical question to be answered, in specific detail. The org who tries to do a little of everything will be good at nothing, except dying often and wasting resources.

In addition to defining a specific mission for your unit, it is necessary to think honestly about the size and capability of opposition forces (or business risk for non-military units) you could possibly encounter and likely overcome. Last week we talked about the importance of gathering intelligence in advance of an operation. Who are you likely to encounter, out there in the black, is of paramount concern.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. – Sun Tzu

Conclusion

So we’d like to know what you think about Operational Readiness in the ‘Verse. Please leave your comments here, or join the ongoing conversations on /R/StarCitizen, Twitter, or Facebook. If you like to connect on twitter use hashtag #SpaceOpsStrategy. Here are a few specific things I’m curious about:

  • What type of tools are you using to calculate your own unit’s Operational Readiness?
  • Are you thinking about your organizational unit’s ability to face various scenarios?
  • Which situations will you face and which will you avoid?
  • Are you planning to train your personnel for specific roles?

See you in the ‘Verse!

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3 comments

  1. Eupemios

    Are you going to do one of these on communications and scouting?

  2. Gregory C Smith

    Our organisation will be using a scouting first system (minimum 2 jump capable ships) to recon all area’s we find strategically important to our mission.
    Dependant on the requirements of mission, risk and benefit, decisions will be made in what equipment we should utilize.
    This will be an organic build of team/squadron, erring on the side of caution but also trusting in the information obtained by the scouting party.
    I think alot of people are transitioning in to the SC Universe utilizing 2d Naval warfare defensive and offensive tactics, which we find out moded and obviously outdated due to the 3d nature of space.

    Sun Tzu was right in many of his concepts, but in the main, as a macro overview of the strategic importance of winning against an opponent. Keeping within your own supply lines and not overstretching was one of his most important ideas on how to weaken the enemy and not yourself. We shall be using small steps like a small fish in a big pond, taking little nibble’s of information, before committing to anything that could cause loss.

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