Brown Bag Lessons


Brown Bag Lessons, The Magic of Bullet Writing 

Introduction



The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.

                                                —John Buchan

Developing, coaching, and mentoring are my passion—investing in others has brought more satisfaction than any individual accomplishment. So it would seem the time and energy spent helping others to succeed is returned two-fold in contentment. That is what likely inspired my mentors to make an impact early in my career.

While I don't consider myself a "writer," I do consider myself a coach, mentor, someone who is willing to help others build a brighter career. I have been presenting professional development seminars for many years, both as a job requirement, but more importantly, as a personal passion.

From 2003 to 2012 I shared techniques of military writing, in every forum imaginable. Whether presenting in a base theater, a conference center, or via my laptop in a hotel room in Okinawa, Japan, developing people is what makes me go.

The genesis of this book's material was initially shared with small groups. Through the years, audiences grew from dozens to over 500 at a time. During the last two years, the seminars reached out to thousands. Like a light switch, time and again, people attending the seminar said, “I get it."

This system not only has the potential to revolutionize how we approach bullets, but also our entire merit based system. In January 2012 the Air Force, recognized the force-wide value and inculcated the concepts into the SNCOA and SOS curricula. At the time of publication over 11,000 students received this information through the course curriculum.

“I wholeheartedly recommend the principles outlined in this book. Our education institutions incorporated these principles into curriculum for more than 5,000 Company Grade and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers annually.

There are three main reasons why each leader should embrace these techniques. First, the writer is forced to ensure each bullet meets a set standard. Second, it creates consistency and structure within the Air Force. By applying these sound principles, leaders will assist with the evolution of our performance evaluation system, awards boards, and even promotion boards by creating a systematic approach to bullet writing to remove ambiguity within each process. And third, these techniques add credibility to our system. Each bullet will now have merit. Therefore, every board member can easily assign a point value to each bullet and be able to support the overall rating to fellow board members. No longer will there be an ambiguous guess at how a board member arrived at their rating. Each time I use these techniques on boards, it helped identify the most deserving person.”

                                      —Mark Bennett, CMSgt, USAF

The most distinctive part is that these techniques do not teach through conventional methods. These principals teach from the opposite point of view, from the evaluation side for clear understanding.

I have observed thousands struggling to compose, articulate, and formulate statements for recognition packages and performance appraisals. People who spent countless hours in frustration because they were writing in vain, knowing that someone higher up would bleed the draft in red ink and send it back for rework with the document looking nothing like the original. This frustration is still prevalent today.

I simply cannot say it more clearly—“The struggle to write comes to an end!” The countless hours of rewriting bullets stops here.

“When I was at base level, I supervised military and civilian staff members. I struggled to write the type of performance and award bullets this book teaches. If I had received instruction of this caliber earlier in my career, my packages would have been stronger and my staff properly recognized. The techniques taught in this book should be included in the curriculum for all supervisory training programs.”

                             —Shelly Owczarski
                                Chief, Air Force Materiel Command
                                Voluntary Education Program, retired

 

Those who learn this method, whether they have been a supervisor for two or 22 years, express how beneficial it would have been if the techniques were accessible much earlier in their career. Some were adamantly upset because they struggled for so long.

“Since learning this process I’ve authored 2 Major Command, 8 Numbered Air Force and over 100 Wing and Group level awards. I believe wholeheartedly I’m a better writer because I was exposed to this process. I still use the training slides given to me by Eric to mentor the men and women in my squadron. All I’ve received is positive feedback on how the process has helped make them better writers. I’m thankful I’m able to share this standard with the folks in my Wing.”

 

                             —Edward Ames

                                Chief Master Sergeant, USAF

All supervisors incur a responsibility for counseling, conducting feedback, and documenting performance. The techniques taught in this book directly apply to all of these applications.

The Magic of Bullet Writing saves time by reducing edit and review work by half or more. Productivity increases because backlogged reports are transferred off your desk. Nevertheless, there is more! It also makes your employees more productive because they'll compose reports correctly the first time. The vicious cycle of reports going back and forth ends.

Throughout a long career, you tend to learn a trick or two. At times, a mentor or supervisor shares tricks of the trade. Regrettably, we often learn from the school of hard knocks. Fortunately, every once in a while, a bit of luck comes your way.

Whether you are an accomplished writer or a novice, you will see the merit in the approach. This book does not teach how to write a bullet. It teaches how to write a powerful bullet. It unlocks a secret that has benefited thousands. Now I trust that it will benefit you.

As you begin, I would like to point out a unique aspect of the book. Brown Bag Notes are in each chapter. These provide a useful setup to facilitate mentoring sessions.

I am grateful for contributing to a system that has enlightened so many and provided such a return on investment. Please enjoy the book in its entirety.