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Seizing the Future

June 2, 2008
By H. Mosher

This month, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. examines transition plans-his favorite, in particular, which is the 500-day plan. He discusses his experience using such a plan at CENTCOM and at DISA, and the benefits of doing so over, say, an 18-month plan or the "typical" five-year strategic plan favored by so many organizations:

The CENTCOM 500-day action plan was signed by the commander in chief (CINC), and it directed the components to comply with this plan for transformation. It included a CINC-endorsed vision, mission statement, strategic objectives, individual tasks, names of people responsible and time frames for achieving success. This plan was so successful in delivering improvements through 91 individual programs, projects and tasks that a second plan quickly followed in late 1997 to continue the momentum. Over the years, CENTCOM continued to improve operationally through eight subsequent 500-day action plans. Each built on the progress of previous plans and took into account the changes in the AOR footprint, politics, reorientation, mission and the explosion of information technology capabilities that change the global landscape. The eight successive CENTCOM 500-day action plans-supported by five different four-star combatant commanders-flexibly enabled technology insertion to serve changing operational requirements with the best commercial tools. Together, these plans resulted in 12 years of focused activity that transformed CENTCOM's command and control capability.

Four years after initiating the first 500-day action plan-which focused on internal improvements at CENTCOM-we found an opportunity at the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to use this successful methodology. We wanted DISA to become more customer focused by implementing needed improvements throughout the globally dispersed agency. In this application, our 500-day action plan was externally focused to improve DISA's global customer support with measurable milestones. When it comes to national security, no people or organizations are more important than DISA's customers: the president, secretary of defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commands (COCOMs), military services and defense agencies.

The 500-day planning process was so successful that three subsequent plans were used to transform the way DISA performs as a combat support agency. Along with many customer compliments, perhaps the most impressive endorsement of this methodology came when the Joint Staff conducted interviews with every COCOM and stated its findings in the 2005 Combat Support Agency Review Team report: "DISA Director continued his very successful '500-Day action plan' program where mutually agreed-upon issues are resolved in that period. DISA resolved 134 of 140 issues in the 2002 plan and 107 of 109 issues in its 2004 plan. COCOMs are very supportive of DISA's 500-day action plan process and its continuance."

The entire column is here, but we'd enjoy hearing from readers on this subject:

What transition models are working for your agency or organization? How might the 500-day plan work for you?

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