What the Canadian Artillery Taught Me About Business

By Stuart_R_Crawford
In MSP Coaching
February 25, 2013

Stuart R. Crawford / Stuart Crawford

royal canadian horse artilleryHands down, the best posting I had in my military career was my 3 ½ years as a member of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. Even today, when I speak of “The Regiment” it is the RCHA not “1 CSR” where many of my peers were stationed.

My time with the artillery was priceless. I spent time overseas in Cyprus where I was responsible for running the day-to-day operation of the Ledra Palace Communication Centre. However it was the time working in the Regimental Command Post where I learned how to coordinate artillery fire, amongst many other military duties, that serves me best today.

A lesson learned early in my twenties now helps me run a highly successful managed service coaching business and help thousands of managed service providers annually reach stratospheric success.

What was that lesson?

Well there were two:

  • Practice makes perfect
  • The art of adjusting artillery fire

Allow me to tackle the first one about practice. During our recent MSP workshop in Dallas, we had a small discussion about role play and practicing sales techniques with our peers versus what many of us do, practicing in front of a prospect. In Shilo, we practiced artillery fire orders over and over long before we would go out and practice with real artillery rounds.

Voice procedure and recording everything was crucial to the delivery of rounds on target. If you were weak or unprepared, you never made it into the back of the command post. Randy McDonald, myself and a few others seemed to get this quickly and it was sure nice to sit in the back of the command post versus being on security duty with the ones that just couldn’t grasp it.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

The second important lesson that we can take into business was the art of adjusting fire. In the artillery, we had a forward observation officer who watched the battlefield some 15 km ahead of the gunline. His responsibility was to observe the battlefield and ensure that rounds fired neutralized the enemy. So how did we do this?

Have you ever watched a war movie where artillery happens to land directly on the target? Well, those rounds take a tonne of adjustment to land precisely on target. We call this adjusting fire.

One gun, normally the first one ready will fire one round using the grid reference sent back by the forward observation officer or FOO. The FOO then sends back directions from where the round landed compared to the target – Left, Right, Add or Drop until the single round lands where it is supposed to. Only then, do all the guns in the regiment fire. While the single gun is adjusting all the other guns are following the corrections made so their rounds land exactly where they should.

How does this impact business? Many MSPs want to fire all their rounds immediately, let’s get out there and expend everything we have. Even worse they want to assume that everything is perfect without firing a single round down range.

Here are my recommendations, and Jim Collins echoes this in his book “Great By Choice.” He elects to use bullets and cannonballs, but it is the same message.

Unsure about the cloud or not sure how to roll out a cloud offering? Start small. Fire one round down range. Perhaps you partner with a hosted exchange service provider and build your cloud offering there or maybe use a cloud backup solution. Whatever it is, fire a single round, see where it lands and then adjust fire.

If you fail on the first opportunity, adjust for the second, third and so on.

Do you get it?

As Jim Collins states in his book, fire lots of small bullets because they are cheap, run little risk and little distraction. When you have your target or opportunity locked in, then fire your regiment or cannonball.

Ulistic helps managed service providers with a wide range of services. Many times we continue to adjust our own tactics. Our team can help you with marketing services, sales training and management and even help you acquire other managed service providers.

Give us a call and learn more about what we do. We can be reached at 716.799.1999 ext 101.

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