Unity of Effort

In recent discussions with my peers in healthcare, specifically my clinical peers, I am reminded of the need for unity of effort. Unity of effort is a concept I was first introduced to during my military service. It is a derivative of one of the nine principles of war, unity of command. Unity of command is a principle of war because it focuses all authority and effort one responsible commander. In so doing, that one commander should bring about a unified purpose amongst the various forces involved in the war effort.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines unity of effort as: “Coordination and cooperation toward common objectives, even if the participants are not necessarily part of the same command or organization, which is the product of successful unified action” (Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2020). This idea is one that is meant to produce a singular alignment of all resources and action in a way that maximizes the chances of overall mission success.

Healthcare needs this concept in many ways.  What we have seen in our response to the COVID pandemic is a glimpse of our capacity for unity of effort. The innovation, organizational adaptability, and overall responsiveness of our industry has been remarkable under crisis, but the everyday challenges still present us with unnecessary stumbling blocks. We can bring the full weight of our organizations and our industry to full effect in response to the pandemic, but in areas like workplace violence prevention we struggle to focus any effort at all.

As healthcare security professionals, I believe it is our responsibility to bring about unity of effort in our organizations as well as our industry. We should be constantly advocating for improvements, even if some are incremental in our organizational focus on the global crisis of violence against healthcare workers. When we bring all the partners together, and we bring all our collective capacity together, lives are changed. We can then bring about the change we all want to see. It is our duty and our challenge every day.

How do you advocate for violence prevention resources? Who are your non-security partners that help you build unity of effort? Join the conversation in the comments below, and do not forget to like, follow, and share to support the Proactive Security Blog.


Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, (Washington DC: The Joint Staff, June 2020), page 225.

One thought

  1. Great point. In my practice I talk about this all the time. It has multiple facets. The common discussions I explore with my clients are the two you mention, Unity of Purpose and Unity of Effort. These concepts are core to the benefits they get from our work to get them to solid Security Standards with a uniformity of design and deployment of technology and process. As an enterprise grows and it becomes more complex, if nothing else but due to the shear size, then standardization and uniformity of design and process or critical.

    Our foundational approach to the security support and advice we provide our clients is a holistic and converged methodology. We have found that many clients struggle with pulling together the “three legs of the holistic stool”, Process, Personnel, and Technology. Many times they miss factoring into the equation one of these elements. when you factor in the convergence of Physical and cyber, you can see the light of Unity of Effort or Purpose being at the heart of it all.

    Convergence of Physical and Cyber is a little Utopian perhaps for many, maybe most organizations. But we can try. It is certainly for the right reason and with ASIS publishing the ESRM guidelines and ISO 27001 it seems more clear today that this convergence is only a matter of time.

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