Conferences Condensed

Conferences Condensed: Extreme Ownership Muster

A conference about leadership

Last October, I went to Las Vegas to attend Extreme Ownership Muster, a leadership conference by Echelon Front. The center of this conference is a book called Extreme Ownership, written by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The book shows scenarios Willink or Babin faced as Navy SEALs, the leadership principles that come out of those examples, and then how those same principles can be applied to business—the conference followed a similar format during each session.

⚔️ Laws of Combat

Speakers: Jocko Willink, Leif Babin, JP Dinnell, and Dave Berke

The conference kicked off with the Laws of Combat. These are the principles to being a leader—they build off of each other and work together to accomplish the mission. Those laws are:

  1. Cover and Move — It’s all about the team. If the team fails, everyone fails.
  2. Simple — Everything must be simple. The objective, instructions, everything. It’s up to the leader to ensure the team understands the task.
  3. Prioritize and Execute — Prioritize tasks and do them. Debrief after everything, and figure out how do it better the next time.
  4. Decentralized Command — Give your team the power to make decisions so you can focus on the big picture. The team should not only understand what to do but why they’re doing it. The leader is able to detach and focus on the strategic objective.

The Laws of Combat are to be followed in order, and after hearing that, it made sense to me. You must first be a team, cover and move, before you can have decentralized command where the team can autonomously execute tasks without needing explicit approval for every step. I think The Laws of Combat are a great starting point for any leader.

🧮 Strategic vs Tactical Thinking

Speakers: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Next, we covered two different ways of thinking. Strategic thinking is all about long term goals, and tactical thinking is about short term goals. You can be making continuous tactical wins, but if they don’t help the strategic objective, they’re useless. Take a step back and recognize, analyze, and react. You don’t want to have a tactical victory that comes with a strategic failure.

As a leader, you must think both strategically and tactically. I’ve never thought about this before—you can make tactical wins, but when those don’t help you strategically, they won’t make a difference and you need to pivot. Detaching yourself from the situation and observing is a superpower. If you’re too close, you may miss the big picture.

🔍 Decision Making & the OODA Loop

Speakers: Dave Berke

In this talk, we covered the OODA Loop—a method created by John Boyd for taking in information, processing it, and using it to make a decision. This method has four steps:

  1. Observe — Gather information from various different places: your customers, your competition, your team, etc.
  2. Orient — Put that information into context and turn your raw data into useful information. Your past experiences can help you predict the future. This is Boyd’s most critical part of the loop.
  3. Decide — This is where you start to take extreme ownership. You shift away from the science of the loop and start leading.
  4. Act — This is the most important step: implementing your plan.

This loop repeats, and observations or feedback from previous plans and actions are used to reorient yourself and make new decisions and actions.

Mikaela with Jocko Willink and Leif Babin Me meeting Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, the authors of Extreme Ownership and founders of Echelon Front.

Extreme Ownership Muster covered some interesting methods for approaching leadership, both in life and in business. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the books written by the Echelon Front team that put together the conference!