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#300: Concept of Operations

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, May 7, 2010
Updated: Friday, May 7, 2010
My consulting practice deals with complex situations and my communications and work products require fairly technical documents. How can I more effectively communicate to an audience the range of the issues I am working on?

You don't have to work in a technical field to benefit from learning ways to present complicated concepts in a simple form to clients, colleagues and stakeholders. An important consulting skills is to be able to simply communicate a complex issue.

Borrow a practice used by the military and other disciplines - the Concept of Operations (CONOPS). A CONOPS is a high level description of the operational requirements of a system, activity or mission. It is a formal document that lays out the rationale, structure, capabilities, uses and benefits of that system. It might be an organizational unit, a program, or project. To an extent, a CONOPS is it is what is sometimes called a requirements analysis but it is more.

A CONOPS clearly explains the objectives of a system or organization, the circumstances of its environment, forces acting on it, possible and preferred methods of operating to achieve the stated objectives, decision making principles and processes, and expected operational outcomes. CONOPS are commonly used as the foundation of a strategy and may be presented as a (sometimes complex, but complete) graphic or a more thorough narrative.

Tip: Look at some examples of a CONOPS as a graphic or a narrative of how to create one. How could you describe a client's organization or system through a CONOPS?

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  consulting terminology  presentations 

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