April 6, 2023

How to Operationalize an H2F Program – Part 2: Foundational Systems

By Joe Cruz, 2F Program Director 1/1 ABCT, 1st Armored Division

This is the second article in our three-part series on How to Operationalize an H2F Program. Click here to catch up on Part 1 – Initiating Change. A huge “THANKS” to Joe Cruz for sharing his experience and wisdom. We hope you find this series helpful and stay tuned for Part 3 – Beyond Physical Readiness. 

Making Data Valuable and Useful in Decision-Making

Technology is the third way that we’re operationalizing H2F effectively and magnifying the impact of our staff. With the right human performance optimization platform, we can maximize the impact of H2F across a 4,500-person brigade. We were able to leverage a Human Performance Data Management System (Smartabase) through an Army program that allows us to capture data in a timely and effective manner and package it in a palatable form that commanders can easily digest. You can gather a lot of human performance information, but what matters is how it informs your program and facilitates timely and effective decision-making.  

Whether information is valuable and useful to a commander or not doesn’t just depend on what’s being presented to them, but also on when they receive it. When I was a troop commander, I learned the acronym LTIOV, which stands for Latest Time Information is of Value. If a leader gets information too late, it’s useless because they will have already made a critical decision with missing pieces and an incomplete picture. Whereas if you can put more complete data that’s easy to interpret in your commander’s hands quickly when there’s a risk, you help them mitigate or eliminate it. 

This is critical to the success or failure of a mission and could be the difference between soldiers living or dying. 

Smartabase eliminates the delay between the point when information is collected and aggregated and when we can share it with commanders, allowing us to communicate data that is both applicable and timely to enhance their decision-making ability. It helps us stay within the timeframe when information is at its most valuable and useful to our leaders. 

Readiness Dashboard
Example Readiness Dashboard

Improving Care Through Soldier Surveillance    

A major aim of the H2F initiative is to provide soldiers with the same level of care and service that special operators have received for years. To do this at scale and yet on a personalized level, we needed a way to create genuine and meaningful engagement through a widespread and proactive surveillance program. 

Genuine engagement is “I truly want to do this,” and meaningful engagement means you understand why you want to do it and it's producing the outcome that you want. We’re trying to achieve both by conducting and following up on our AM wellness check, which has provided the kind of feedback loop we never would have created otherwise. 

Every Monday and Friday, soldiers use the Smartabase app to fill out a seven-question survey that covers their stress level, sleep quality, connection to a higher power, and other questions relating back to the H2F domains. Their answers have red flag criteria – if someone has an issue, the H2F domain leaders get an alert so they can follow up and have an informed conversation. The more consistent we are with providing this kind of engagement and intervention for someone who says, “I have a problem,” the more effective the self-reporting concept will be. Deliberate data collection and management also enables us to inform programming and direct H2F resources to the individuals who need them the most. 

Looping Leaders into a Failsafe Follow-Up Process

When a soldier reports an issue, we want first line leaders to have the Smartabase app on their phones and be included in the reporting chain. We’re working toward creating a failsafe mechanism, so if there’s an initial notification about an individual and nobody follows up on it, a second alert is sent via Smartabase to ensure there’s an intervention. That way, no one who needs help falls through the cracks, and we’ve leveraged technology to empower leaders to be more engaged with their soldiers. 

Bringing leaders into the reporting loop through the Smartabase app on their phones makes them more mobile. Too many of our officers are tied behind the computer and you can't develop meaningful relationships that way. 

The Smartabase app allows them to be more connected when they’re on the go, so while they’re moving through the formation conducting battlefield circulation, the Smartabase app is on their phone. If their phone pings to inform them of a problem like a soldier reporting that they’re too stressed out, they can take a detour and change their plans. They could call a sergeant, let them know that there’s an issue in their company, and have them check in with the soldier to see what’s going on. It may be as simple as an individual having poor coping skills and being unable to deal with a minor stressor, or as serious as someone having suicidal thoughts. Either way, leaders are more aware of what’s going on in their battalion and can be involved in sorting out any situation that compromises a soldier’s health. 

Read the Full Series: How to Operationalize an H2F Program

We hope you found some inspiration and tips in this series on operationalizing an H2F program, authored by Joe Cruz, 2F Program Director 1/1 ABCT, 1st Armored Division. Below are links to read the full series.

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