Benchmarking Conference Attendees Absorb Military Leadership Tactics

During the two days of the MAPP conference, attendees had the opportunity to engage in targeted sessions led by industry executives and guest speakers on topics that included the future of the manufacturing workforce, operational and financial gap analysis and US combat-proven leadership tactics.

In a popular session, Retired Infantry Lt. Colonel David “Bull” Gurfein shared skills learned during five operational and combat tours of duty, as well as through his advanced education as a Harvard MBA. The often humorous breakout detailed the activities required to successfully lead in any situation – or, as Gurfein described, open a can of W.H.O.O.P.A.S.S. The acronym represented the keys to effective leadership, with a military twist:

Warn: Who needs to know?

Hone: What do we need?

Observe: What’s the situation?

Orient: What must we do?

Plan: How will we do it?

Act: Integrity, commitment, boldness and motivation

Supervise: Accomplish mission in keeping with the CEO’s intent

Summarize: Good? Bad? Ugly?

Two of those activities, Warn and Observe, are summarized here.

Warn: Gurfein recommended that manufacturing leaders Warn with communication that is HOT (Honest, Open and Timely). Effective leaders communicate with their employees to reduce ambiguity. Warning – discussing upcoming jobs, challenges and successes – empowers others and creates a two-way street through which the more you communicate, the more others will communicate with you. Creating a solid TRACK record for communication leads others to Trust what you are saying, Respect you for sharing information, become Accountable for providing information to you, creates Confidence in daily task and Knowledge that daily activities are contributing to overall success within the company.

Observe: Effective leaders maintain situational awareness every day by observing the TATTOOs. Developing new business opportunities is often a matter of finding new Targets. Those targets may be in new Areas, whether location-based or industry-based. To achieve results, Tasks must be set that are simple and achievable, with specified Times that serve as check points to be sure milestones are achieved. Obstacles sometimes occur in the form of a physical or financial barrier, but if the Organization is structured for success and a Support system is in place, internally and externally, then the company leader has provided all of the necessary elements for a triumphant mission.

David “Bull” Gurfein can be contacted by emailing