Monday, July 22, 2013


No, the title isn't a misspelling.

In this case I am not talking about a geological formation:


Nor am I talking about poker when you want to win a pot, but don't have the cards, it sometimes pays to bluff.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane at

Although probably not necessary with a full house...

This is an Acronym from the Army:

B - Bottom
L - Line
U - Up
F - Front.

Bottom Line Up Front

What this means is: What are you trying to accomplish? What is the end-state? What is the goal? This is almost always the information you want to share with your team, so that they understand where they are going (or hopefully more often, where you are trying to go with them). 

In the military this was usually the mission objectives; and was shared because in the worst case scenarios, the original leader of the mission may not survive the mission. In those cases, the unit was expected to continue on and complete the objectives. If the unit didn't know the BLUF, then how could they?

Now, hopefully on the civilian side of things, team leaders/managers won't be removed prior to reaching the goal, but that doesn't make the concept any less important. Over time, you will be unavailable: meeting, vacation, lottery ticket, hit by a bus; one of these will eventually happen (hopefully not the last one) and someone on your team will need to make a decision. Do you want to encourage your people to make a choice, or sit and wait for someone else to make the call? In the end if your team knows the BLUF, then they will be able to make decisions based on what advances the team to the goal. If they don't know the BLUF, then they can make a decision that is counterproductive to the team goals or no decision at all.

If you listen to/read leadership experts (like John Maxwell) the ultimate goal of a leader should be to grow more leaders, and not followers. By sharing the BLUF, you provide the opportunity for growth. Don't hold your team back, ensure that they have enough detail to make a decision. Share the BLUF! 

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