accomplish? Even small special events require detailed
planning and time-consuming, hard work on the part of
many members of the staff. Clarifying objectives early
in the planning process ensures that this work is not
There is no single formula you can use to plan all
special events. Certain guidelines can be followed,
however, and the process is not too different from the
planning process an operational commander goes
through in analyzing his mission, estimating his tactical
situation, making a command decision and drawing up
the directive to be sure his forces carry out the mission.
The process starts by your stating in broad terms
what you are going to do and why. Consider the
This ship will conduct a dependents cruise on 4
July to increase dependents understanding of our
duties and thereby enhance morale.
This station will hold public visitation on Armed
Forces Day to increase public awareness of the
importance of sea power and to further our
community relations objectives.
The CO will present Good Conduct Medals and
advancement certificates after inspection Friday
morning to reward recipients and encourage
others to achieve similar recognition.
This ship will embark 12 Secretary of the Navy
guests while en route from San Francisco to Pearl
Harbor to further the objectives of the Secretary
of the Navy Guest Cruise Program.
A group of community leaders will be flown to
the U.S. Naval Academy for an orientation visit
to induce outstanding young men and women of
the community to apply for academy admission.
Statements such as those above will help you keep
your eye on the target in later phases of planning. It will
probably appear in an early paragraph of your planning
directive, if the event is big enough to require one.
Next, consider the facilities you have at your
disposal. These may include ships, planes and lesser
hardware at a major event, portable items used in
exhibits and such live participants as speakers, marching
units, bands and color guards. With these attractions,
consider the working facilities you have at your
disposal: the size and capacity of your own office,
logistic support (guides, transportation, bleachers,
brochures and other printed matter, etc.) and the
countless minor items that take time, talent and usually
money to produce, but are indispensable in a major
It is only after you examine your event and its
objectives considering these available facilities that you
are ready to decide just how much can be done and who
will carry out what tasks.
At this point nothing is more important than
attention to detail. An event of major proportions may
be a miserable flop if only one detail is omitted from the
basic plan. The results of a poorly staged public event
might include adverse publicity on a local, national or
Consider, for example, the embarrassment of
Olympic Games officials in the following incident
recounted from Coronet Magazine in November 1956:
The officials were embarrassed because in
making plans, someone had overlooked the
details involving the entrance of the traditional
torch bearer. When the famous Finnish miler,
Paavo Nurmi, appred at the gates of the
Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, he was denied
entrance. His torch had been lit in Athens and
passed by 15,000 other runners and finally to
Nurmi at the stadium. At the end of the colorful
pageantry and fanfare, Nurmi was scheduled to
appear, but the police kept him standing in his
track suit before the stadium gates. At last one
of the dignitaries recognized the famous runner
with the torch and gave him entrance.
It is equally embarrassing when plans fail to provide
for clearance of visiting dignitaries into the VIP area, for
delivery of brochures to the distribution point, for media
parking, for properly briefed escorts, for advance
clearance for media representatives to board boats or
helicopters, or for any other essential details. These
areas can be planned far more readily when the directive
is being written than when left until the last minute.
When a planning directive clearly outlines what is to be
done and who is to do it, execution becomes easier.
EXECUTION OF THE PLAN
The next step is executing the plan. Operations
personnel call this step supervising the planned
action, and the operational planning manuals say that
the best way to do this is to start with a good plan.