Effects Based Operations

“Rarely is it effective advocacy to try to convince the judges that the case law compels them to rule in one’s favor. For if that were so, the case probably would not have have gotten to the appellate stage. The most effective method of arguing a case is to identify the purpose behind the relevant legal principle and then show how that purpose would be furthered by a decision in favor of [your] position.” How Judges Think, Richard A. Posner

The former and the latter ways of thinking are essentially the difference between people who ‘have it’ and the people who don’t. One understands The Commander’s Intent and the other is hapless and can’t be trusted with important tasks. One rightly understand that rules are just guidelines, flexible markers that can be used to accommodate change if only treated with the right amount of respect and acknowledgment. One thinks imaginatively and with a sense of creativity while the other is bogged down with entitlements and procedure.

It’s the first paradigm you have to break through when you finish school (Although you should have been doing it while you were there). Because really all people need from someone they’ve hired is the ability to tune them to their wavelength and have them function as an extension of that way of thinking.

It’s done exactly how Posner says is is. Not by thinking about the question at hand but by the factors that created the necessity of the question. That means figuring out what something boils down to, why, and ignoring the rest of the shit that people get hung up on.

Life is an effects based operation. And then means looking at things not as they are but what they’re intended to be. It means training yourself to look cross-eyed so you can that thing right below the surface, the thing that everyone else is missing.

Finals are ways getting students to attend class. Pitch meetings are about filling the distribution channels that must constantly be filled. A research assistant finds the dots for the writer to connect. Getting linked by other sites to do someone the favor of saying what they couldn’t quite say themselves – to fill their distribution channel. War, as Von Clausewitz wrote, is politics by other means.

You need to stop thinking about objectively what is wrong and what is right and more about objectives themselves. What are we trying to accomplish? What is the framework necessary to do that? If you can do it right, the results you hand to people should be pleasant surprises. A surprise because they didn’t ask for it, pleasant because it’s what they really wanted.

Ultimately, no one can train you do this but yourself. Once you get in the door, school doesn’t matter, only how well you understand the effects at hand. And before that is even possible you have to start thinking about what’s behind the things that have always been in front of you.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.