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Quad charts are single sheets or documents designed to quickly elucidate goals, strategies and the benchmarks along the way. The Army uses quad charts for a number of administrative and tactical reasons. Quad charts should have well-defined measures of success and patterned, established ways of getting there. Creating a quad chart is not difficult once you know the basic format.
Headers and Details
The top of the quad chart features the chart's title, which reflects the topic. Often included is a Broad Agency Announcement number, or BAA, for base-wide initiatives. There is often an area of interest reference in the form of a category, such as intelligence. Also featured is the name and rank of the individual or individuals that crafted the piece, providing a touchpoint for further inquiry as well as accountability for the content.
One section of the quad chart is used to clearly and concisely define mission objectives. This is usually the upper left quadrant, placing the objectives first in the grouping. These objectives might be to eliminate a certain target, secure an area or to have a certain number of vehicles repaired by a certain time in the motor pool. In addition to simply stating what the end goals are, this quadrant defines specific goals within those global parameters. For example, the objective might be "Take XYZ airfield," with subheaders such as "Secure target air traffic control tower without harming staff or civilians." There are normally two to three mission-defining subheads under the primary stated objective. Although more are possible, the primary idea behind a quad chart is to remain concise and focused.
Diagram or Images
Another quadrant is often used to display a basic diagram of an operation, a chart or other visual aid used to define goals. These visuals, like the text used throughout the quad chart, should be easily read with the purpose and details readily identifiable at a glance. Technical applications might display a schematic, while a hostage rescue mission diagram might show a building overhead with expected enemy and hostage positions and proposed entry points.
The designer of the quad chart must provide a proposal for how to achieve the stated goals. These proposals may come from one person or a group. Approaches are the author's solutions for achieving mission success, based on recognized sound tactics, gathered intelligence and personal experience with a project or environment. Although not set in stone, proposed approaches offer a baseline for any small modifications that might prove necessary as a mission progresses, such as a change in a high-value target's expected location.
Milestones are markers or virtual waypoints, designed to offer those participating in the project or mission an understanding of whether they're moving in the right direction. Milestones are smaller chunks of the overall mission that must be completed in order to call the operation successful. The milestones often include deadlines, whether by date or specific time. The hypothetical airfield mission might have troops at a rally point by 0430, with a given objective secured by 0500. These are not random and are based on what is known about the targets, mission and environment.
David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.