Lines of Operation

Lines of Operation

In a Military application, Lines of Operation (LOO) define the direction of a force in relation to the adversary.  Military leaders often use LOO to attempt to manipulate their opponents to act in a way benefitting the leader. In both military and civilian situations, lines of operation has one thing in common. Strategy begins with the end goal and works backward from there. 

Lines of Operation begins with the end goal
LOO begins with the end goal.

The essence of an LOO strategy is to identify the center of gravity in your target.  A target can be a military, political, economic, or other context which requires resolution.  To fully use lines of operation (LOO), start with your “Commander’s Intent”.  By putting your primary strategies down on a sheet, whether electronically or on paper, they become a plan that can be shared.  Visualizing a goal includes conceptualizing what winning looks like for this goal. Start with your concept written as: “My desire is  __X__ in order to ___X__.” 

Concept of Lines of Operation

Keep in mind, LOO is meant to be conceptual in nature and not mired down with excessive details.  Surprisingly, instead of helping, overly complex Lines of Operation can actually hinder your team when attempting to reach a goal. No matter how you fill in the blanks, you are leaving unanswered questions. A sales plan probably won’t answer questions regarding operations or training.  A life plan may include diet, but it won’t resolve relationship or non-dietary fitness issues.

Using one line, enter your top priority, then work backward through the steps needed to accomplish that priority. A priority of sales means you need a number of clients.  A number of clients requires a number of leads.  Leads means you need salespeople available to handle leads.  Salespeople have to be trained.  Training cannot occur before you hire people to train.  Reverse engineer from your goal to the first step needed to reach that goal.  When the line is complete, your plan is on the sheet. 

Lines of Operation Example

To reach a goal of _% Sales increase, your plan needs to include hiring, then training salespeople.  You will need to find and supply leads so they can close enough sales to reach your goal. Once you do that, you have the first line of effort in your lines of operation. 

The operational support of Lines of Operation include integration, continuity, responsiveness, improvisation and lines of support.


Planning the term of operation and the resources required to reach the target is part of integration.  Another component is the development of your pathway to the goal.


By making your integration plan, you have an idea what supplies, manpower and training is needed to reach your goal.  By making sure your team has all it needs to succeed, you can avoid delays and break downs in productivity.


Obstacles and issues will come on as you reach for a goal personally or at work.  It is vital that you react timely and calmly.  It is just as important to keep communication open with your team and help if necessary. When possible, try giving them room to reach their own solutions.


As we said earlier, your LOO is not meant to be mired down in details.  That means regardless of how sound your plan is, a certain amount of improvisation will be needed as you progress. 

Lines of support

In a business setting, as your team strives to meet their goals as you set them, they will need your continuing support.  This may be in terms of training, or bringing in additional labor for certain portions of the plan.  If the LOO is a personal goal, it might make sense to recruit a friend or family member to support your endeavor.