The Competing Interests Model

Not long ago, I talked about the well known Time-Cost-Quality Paradigm, and how it applies to both firearms and training. I want to revisit that concept, because I’ve come across something else that I think is an even better way to look at it.

While working on a professional certification, I’ve been reading about another model used in project management called the “Competing Interests” paradigm. Whereas the old Time-Cost-Quality may be more appropriate for things, it is not as useful for people. People often have competing priorities and limited resources that affect how decisions are made.

The competing interests model has the previous time-cost-quality components, but adds a few more. In all, these include Time, Cost, Scope, Quality, Resources,  and Risk.

Project Constraints.png


So how do we apply these? Let’s look at the definition of each of these components, and how they apply to our marksmanship journey. These concepts are interrelated, and you will see some overlaps in definition. The takeaway is that changing one will affect the others.

Time: How much time is available? When does this project/evolution/skill need to be acquired by? More or less time pressure will affect how other resources are utilized.

Cost: How much does this cost in terms of dollars? How much does training, ammunition, or equipment cost in order to obtain the desired end result?

Scope: What is it that we are trying to accomplish? Are we working on a particular rifle skill, such as rifle marksmanship, or are we working on a variety of skills that include marksmanship as a component?

Quality: How good is the end result supposed to be? Do we need to maintain a 4 MOA standard, or a 2 MOA standard? Do we need to be able to do this under ideal conditions, or any condition?

Resources: These are things available to us that are not necessarily dollar related. What kind of people are available to us to help us? What kind of facilities do we have to practice? What kind of equipment do we have access to? How much time can we dedicate to our pursuits?

Risk: What would happen if we failed to reach the desired end result in the time allotted? If we prioritize other elements ahead of our practice, what “bad things” might happen?

Put it to Use

I like this model because it provides us more detail and a broader framework for understanding why we make the decisions that we do. I often read lamentations from the “serious” firearms user crowd that other folks around them really aren’t putting in enough time and effort into “serious” training. When asked what kind of training and practice they believe folks should be doing, they invariable talk about whatever their preferred brand of tactical/practical/go-fast method of shooting is. This often happens at the expense of other areas of skills that are just as valuable (if not more) depending on an individuals priorities and experiences. Not everyone perceives the same risks and needs as everyone else, nor are they preparing for the same kinds of events.

I recently saw a YouTube video of bushcrafter Dave Canterbury talking about priorities in the “prepper community.” He mentioned the guys out there who stockpile ammo forts of 40,000 rounds of ammunition and years worth of food, but have no other skills. His priority is to be proficient enough with weapons to use them when needed, but puts his efforts towards learning basic skills like woodworking and blacksmithing that will enable him to create tools and actively provide for himself and others. To him, the risk is that he finds himself in a situation where he may have weapons, but no way to find shelter or prepare food.

Others will put their efforts into weapons handling and small unit tactics. They envision roving gangs of no-goodniks looking to steal resources and harm communities. To them, the risk is that without proper equipment and training, there will be no safety to be had. They want to protect the lives if them and theirs, and keep their communities safe.

Yet many more are not concerned about either of these scenarios, and see risk as not winning a match or losing prestige in their chosen fields of competition.

No two people have the same priorities, and how we address the six competing interests will vary from person to person.

As an “Everyday” marksman, I find that my interests are fairly wide and varied. I want to be proficient with my rifle and pistol, but I am not necessarily preparing for TEOTWAKI. I simply wish to be a capable human being who can protect me and mine, while also possessing the knowledge and skills to provide and survive as well.


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