For context: I'm an Army Officer and I spent most of my time in Civil Affairs, the international relations arm of the military. I'm considering doing a series of lessons learned and how they can apply broadly to EA, and a recent conversation sparked this forum post. Also this post: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/4WxHNBf5LeM9gQneT/you-should-write-on-the-ea-forum

For a while I've been considering writing a book about my current unit in comparison to other units and I've learned a lot about command emphasis and individual member responsibility. As a part of the Reserves, first someone has to volunteer to join, then they have to volunteer to be a part of Civil Affairs. This gives a large amount of buy in, in addition some Soldiers get a chance to do specialty schools that give them a bit of prestige and set them apart from others.

As a leader, I always prefer to have a volunteer, rather than a recruit. Taking only a subset of an already dedicated group has shown me that this attracts a particular type of person. Heck I often find myself going to recruit potential Soldiers into my unit based on how they present themselves.

Imagine that you're drawing on volunteers from an already enthusiastic group of volunteers(say, for instance Rationalists). Chances are that they are already bought in.

So, how does this relate back to operations? If you have a dedicated volunteer operation, then things run smoother. 

Here is my take away from my conversation and this next part is what sparked this, from a Ranger Instructor. (For context Ranger school is a 62 day long school in which new leaders have a a few chances to get a "Go" as a patrol leader. Each candidate has about 12 hours in which they have this opportunity as leadership changes often at the direction of the instructors. One or Two "No-Gos" means that they are dropped or recycled. For most people, Ranger School is a once in a lifetime volunteer opportunity.)

"So some times the ranger candidates will do a rock drill, and we always try to nudge them to do a rehearsal. If we see the patrol leader do a rock drill, but not a rehearsal that's a no go. Because usually once they step off on the actual patrol, we change leadership and you haven't set the next person up for success." (A Rock drill is showing the movement in a sandbox to the audience, and a rehearsal is a full on going through the motions.)

So let me break this down. At the top leadership school the Army runs (debatably) what they want to see is that the leadership conducts rehearsals. One of the things that has separated the better units I've seen is that they spend the time on rehearsals to get even the small formations/award ceremonies right. I'm not saying that you're going to be leading a squad of people into a combat scenario, but think about what your group does often, and think about the difference between a "rock drill" and a "dress rehearsal".

If you're not rehearsing what you're doing, then it won't go as smoothly. How would you change things if you knew that someone else had to pick up from where you left it? Someone who was as enthusiastic about your job as you were? 

I would leave detailed notes about how I did something, and probably create an SOP(Standard Operating Procedures). I have written many SOPs in my time to hand off to replacements.

They might not understand the whole scope of the project, but if you do the whole, full on rehearsal? 

They will learn from the experience.

What does a rehearsal look like for your EA aligned org?

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I think it's really great to bring expertise from a bunch of different places into EA and make it stronger and better. Thanks for doing that here!