Building a Quarterly Award: Vision and Planning

Welcome back to my 12 Week Year article series. I’m going through my highlights of The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington and thinking “out loud” as I build a CGO of the Quarter package for the 1st quarter of 2021. This week we’re looking at Vision and Planning.

Before you go somewhere new do you just get in your vehicle and go? If you’re like me you probably put it in Google Maps to see how long it will take you to get to your destination, then you get in your vehicle and go.

When it comes to our quarterly awards package we need to find out where we’re going first before we put anything down on our 1206. This is where having an established vision comes into play.


The 12 Week Year says:

“a compelling vision creates a clear picture of the future. lt is critical that your business vision aligns with and enables your personal vision. This alignment ensures a powerful emotional connection that promotes a sustained commitment and continual action.recommends you have a vision on several different levels.”

We need to have a vision before we go anywhere. Our vision is the destination. In the book the authors recommend having a vision of several different horizons: long-term, mid-term (3 years), and 12 Weeks. I have a long-term vision but for this article series we’ll use the mid-term vision, a 12 Month vision, and the 12 Week vision.

The reason for this is because most assignments are 2-3 years long which ties in nicely with The 12 Week Year’s mid-term vision. The 12 month vision is tied to my personal vision narrative which I write as part of my annual review. The 12 month cycle also lines up with the OPR cycle.

The 3-Year Vision

“The first step, then, to reaching your biggest dreams is to shift from impossible thinking to possible thinking. You do this not by asking “How?”” but by asking “What if?” What would be different for you, your family, your friends, your team, your clients, and your community? By asking What if?, you give yourself permission to entertain the possibility and begin to connect with the benefits.”

My current vision is to help build an incredible reputation for the AFROTC detachment I’m assigned to. I want the cadets in our program to feel proud of what they are accomplishing and for them to act as ambassadors for AFROTC. As others interact with our cadets I want to them to feel a desire to join the program and become what they see. What if our AFROTC detachment was the organization to join on campus? What if our AFROTC detachment was the top performing detachment in the sub-region? The region? The nation? That would be pretty cool.

The 12 Month Vision

My 12 month vision is simple: get my mission qualification training (MQT) completed, plan and execute a great field leadership exercise (FLX), perform well at Field Training (FT) and increase the size of our incoming Freshman class in Fall ’21. My vision isn’t too much more fleshed out than that. MY definition for success is fuzzy and subjective but that’s OK, it’s my vision.

The 12 Week Vision

In case you missed last week’s article I mentioned that this quarter’s intent is to demonstrate that I can catch the ball. I’ll use future quarters to show my ability to gain extra yards. It’s also the first 1206 I’ll be submitting in my job so it will be a chance for me to learn what my peers and upper leadership value. All this to say that my vision for the first quarter of 2021 is to be able to brainstorm, plan, and act on the 12 Week Methodology.


George Patton once said, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” Mike Tyson also said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” I’m a big believer in working from a plan but also recognize the need to actually execute on that plan and adapt is as needed.

According to book that’s why to increase your odds of success, one of the most powerful things you can do is to create, and work from, a written plan. The authors go on to say, “a good plan starts with a good goal. If your goal is not specific or measurable, the plan that you write will also be vague. The more specific and measurable your 12 week goals, the easier it will be to write a solid 12 week plan.”

Before we commit goals to paper I want to mention focus. Once again, Moran and Lennington: “Focus is critical. If you establish too many goals, you end with too many priorities and too many tactics to effectively execute. Everything cannot be a priority.” If everything is a priority then nothing is. Our goals should provide clues as to what our focus is on.

The 12 Week Year offers a suggestion that states 12 week efforts are comprised of two or three goals. This works out nicely as we can create three goals and then use projects to complete these goals.

Why use projects?

This idea is borrowed from Tiago Forte who defines projects as “a series of tasks linked to a goal, with a deadline.” Using projects should mitigate a problem the authors see all the time:

“We see plans all the time that are missing steps, lump complicated time-consuming processes into a single tactic and have actions out of sequence. Worse yet, rather than specifying the actions needed to reach the goal, many times the plan is just a collection of thoughts and ideas.”

Putting the Plan on Paper

Now comes the time to put our plan on paper! The rules for our 1206 submissions state we have to submit bullets under two categories: Leadership and Job Performance in Primary Duty and Whole Airman Concept. There are four bullets under Leadership and Job Performance in Primary Duty and two under the Whole Airman Concept category.

For reference here are the descriptions of each category:

Job Performance in Primary Duty Describe significant accomplishments and how well the member performed assigned primary duties. Define the scope, level of responsibilities, and the impact on the mission and unit. Include new initiatives or techniques developed by the member that positively impacted the unit and/or mission, results of Air Force, Major Command (MAJCOM), and NAF-level inspections and/or evaluations, and awards received (e.g., NCO of the Quarter, Maintenance Professional of the Year, and so forth). Consider development of quality Air Force management principles, new techniques, and contributions to increased mission effectiveness, and acceptance of responsibility. In addition, consider scope and level of responsibility and cost-saving initiatives.

Whole Airman Concept Describe the individual’s involvement in both the military and civilian community. Include leadership, membership, or participation in unit advisory councils, professional military organizations, associations, and events (e.g., President, enlisted dining out committee member, and member of the Air Force Sergeant’s Association, Sunday school teacher, and so forth).

Finally here is the grading criteria:

  • 5.0 points Superior performance and contributions-far exceeds all others
  • 4.5 points Outstanding performance and contributions
  • 4.0 points Excellent performance and contributions
  • 3.5 points Exceptional performance and contributions
  • 3.0 points Well above average performance and contributions; some could be better
  • 2.5 points Above average performance and contributions; worthy but could be stronger
  • 2.0 points Average performance and contributions-routine; no more than expected
  • 1.5 points Below average performance and contributions-below expectations
  • 1.0 points Lowest potential- performance and contributions are well below expectations

This is the first time I’ve seen the grading criteria published with the call for nominations. it’s helpful information to have since you can grade your own bullets beforehand and then see how close you were to those actually grading your bullets. If you aren’t given grading criteria ask to see it or use the above criteria as a guide. I’ll use both the category descriptions and grading criteria to build out draft bullets ahead of time.

Goals –> Bullets –> Projects

Let’s start with our goals. I think one goal for each relevant area of my job is sufficient. Please note that these will not be fully fleshed out as I am using this article series to show the process. Before the end of the series we’ll have fully fleshed out details.

Here’s what I’m thinking with respect to some goal areas:

  1. Instructor Goal
  2. Recruiting Officer Goal
  3. Whole Airman Concept Goal

We can break down each goal into the following “sub-bullets”:

  1. Instructor bullet
  2. Instructor bullet
  3. Recruiting bullet
  4. Recruiting bullet
  5. Whole Airmen concept bullet
  6. Whole Airmen concept bullet

Using projects will keep us focused on executing our plan. Here are a few I can think of off the top of my head. Some of these will need to be updated as I continue to brainstorm.

  1. MQT Certification
  2. Inter-department Collaboration Project
  3. Spring 21 Recruiting Drive
  4. Recruiting Officer Project
  5. Whole Airmen concept project
  6. Whole Airmen concept project

As mentioned previously there is work to be done but we’ll refine things as we learn more about The 12 Week Year. I hope this got you to think about where you’re going and what you’d like to accomplish over the next few weeks, months, and even years. Take some time today to think of some goals for each of your job areas and see what projects you could complete in order to meet those goals.

Talk to you in the next article!

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