Organizing Around the Staff Functions

Ericius Security only has one full-time, ramen-eating employee at the moment: me (Sean). I’m the President and CEO, and—while I have the support of the volunteer portion of Team Hedgehog—there’s a lot of work that I can’t pass the buck on. For example, no one else is accountable for business plans, team/personnel management, fund raising, blogging, budget, intelligence, friendly forces relationships, etc. That’s too much for one person to do, much less do well.

I’m a computer scientist, former Army officer, and cyber security professional by trade and training, so admittedly, we have a bunch of crucial skill gaps (save me!):
  • Lawyers specializing in cyber security
  • Grant Writing
  • Accountants
  • Fundraising
  • Social media
In the meantime, I have work to do. So, here’s how I’m taking an initial stab at task tracking and organization.

The idea of focused work.

Taking inspiration from books like “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, Microsoft’s experiment with a four-day workweek, and concepts from design thinking in books like “Sprint” by Jake Knapp et al—and a plethora of other books—we're starting with the core concept of working deliberately, not excessively. Work should be focused, not distracted, followed by meaningful breaks, and then more deliberate work. In the past, I’ve had a lot of success with approximating this idea as closely as possible as an Army staff-officer. Sprint, rest, repeat.

As we look at work, rest, repeat, we have to keep in mind that there are core things that need to be accomplished routinely: particularly correspondence, planning/strategy, and study time. So, the basic work day looks something like:

0900-1000 Respond to emails, check SM, review/revise to-do list, etc
1000-1130 Deep work period one
1145-1300 Deep work period two
1300-1400 Lunch, high priority correspondence only
1400-1530 Deep work period three
1530-1630 Deep work period four
1630-1700 Journal from the day, make plan for tomorrow, high priority correspondence
Essentially, the day should be organized around no more than four essential tasks, ideally within the same category of work. When this isn’t possible, tasks should be as logically grouped as possible.

The staff functions.

The Army organizes the commander’s staff around several core functions: Personnel (S1), Intelligence (S2), Operations (S3), Logistics (S4), and Communications (S6).

For those wondering, most staffs don’t have an S5, as most are below the Division level. But that’s beside the point. Conveniently, this gives us 5 categories to focus work on for each of 5 work days, which have some sub-tasks/related tasks that match the business world in my opinion:
  • S1 – Personnel
    • Pay and Benefits
    • Employee and volunteer counseling and reviews
  • S2 – Intelligence
    • Research from open and paid for sources
    • Develop reports in support of clients
    • Develop reports in support of projects
  • S3 – Operations
    • Manage current operations (CUOPS and FUOPS)
      • SOC/NOC
      • Project Management
    • Plan future operations (PLANS)
      • Design work
      • Project specifications
    • Identify skill gaps and execute training (TREX)
    • Maintain plans
      • Business Plan/Overview
      • Project Proposals/Value Propositions
      • White Papers
  • S4 – Logistics
    • Budget
    • Equipment
    • Fund raising
  • S6 – Communications (and—for us—OPSEC)
    • Support to current operations
    • Support to client comms
    • Communication with supporters
      • Social media
      • Articles
I honestly don’t think S1 and S4 will individually take up an entire day at this point, so I’ve put them on the same day. I also don’t think Friday is a good day to put out or create new plans, so I’ve come up with the following schedule.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
S1/S4:
Period 1:
-Pay and Benefits
-Counseling
-Performance Reviews

Period 2:
-Budget
-Purchase Equipment and Tools
-Procure training

Period 3:
-Grant Writing etc

Period 4:
-Fund Raising Calls
S2:
Period 1:
-Review information requirements

Period 2:
-Research

Period 3:
-Research/Writing

Period 4:
-Report Writing
S3:
Period 1 and 2:
-Manage current projects

Period 3 and 4:
-Plan future operations

S3:
Period 1 and 2:
-Manage current projects

Period 3 and 4:
-Maintain plans/strategy

S6:
Period 1:
-Support to CUOPS

Period 2:
-Support to Client OPS

Period 3 and 4:
-Write articles
-Plan SM posts

Obviously, this rhythm can’t be LAW. Some days the SOC is going to have an emergency to deal with, or a client is going to call with something more important than our own planning. Further, not every task will need to be done every week (ex, performance reviews). But as far as “what are we going to do today, Brain?” this should provide sufficient detail.

I’ll write another article in a few months to let you know what did or didn’t work with this plan!