Write a winning 1206

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Isaacs
  • 365th Training Squadron
If you haven't had an opportunity to serve as a board member for a monthly, quarterly or annual award, then you are missing out on a valuable opportunity.

It was there that I learned that scoring an Air Force Form 1206 has a lot to do with how you should write one. I learned even more when I evaluated why our flight hadn't won an NCO of the Quarter package in over nine quarters. I compared our losing nominees to the winners, and that led me to three key insights to writing a winning 1206. The three insights are numbers, bullet distribution and diversity.

The most predominant and first on the list is a healthy number of numbers. Grab a few annual award winners and you will notice a phenomenon. The numbers appear to leap off the page. The numbers grab your attention, but more importantly, they represent the scope or impact. 

But do you know why most packages lose? Exactly, no numbers! Finding impact is the toughest part of writing packages. The key is knowing what questions to ask about what was done.

A package with numbers also looks busy. The analogy I like to use is if you place the Wichita Falls city skyline next to New York City's skyline, the difference is undeniable. What skyline looks busier? The first impression I get when I see a flat award package is the individual has nothing to offer.

By flat, I mean a bullet without scope or impact. Actually, capital letters and acronyms work just as well. For instance, I'll use "FY07," "782TRG" or "2A031B" just to draw the board members eye. Even if the only benefit is aesthetic value to the overall package. Award packages live or die by the ability of a bullet to have an impact on the board member.

The second most critical area is bullet distribution. I have seen multiple award packages lose for improper bullet distribution. The nominee would have had a fighting chance, but the writer placed too much emphasis in the wrong area. The proper distribution isn't an art and hinges on simple math. Despite the various differences between some scoring systems, the math is universally the same and applies to all award packages.

Let's look at an NCO of the Quarter package. According to Air Education and Training Command, "the package shall consist of 21 bullets dispersed under three headers: job/duty performance, significant self-improvement and base/community involvement."

The package requires 21 bullets because the wing-level winner is submitted to compete AETC wide. The scoring system is based on a 10-point scale, and is divided into a six-two-two rating system. For instance, the first header, job performance, can receive a maximum of six points. The last two headers split the remaining four points evenly.

We have our point system down, so how then does this affect our bullet distribution? Here is the revelation you've all been waiting for - the scoring system dictates how the bullets are divided up, meaning 60 percent of the 21 bullets should go under job performance. The remaining two headers receive 20 percent of 21 bullets, or four a piece. Under this assertion, all 21 bullets are divided proportionally according to the scoring system. Most board members are aware of this and score accordingly, but a lot of people surprisingly have never been on a board.

With that in mind, what happens when a writer tucks eight bullets under base/community Involvement? Well, that person will more than likely receive a full two points. On the contrary, the writer has distributed bullets to a header that will max out at two points! The job performance header is where I'm going to put the most effort into developing, and ensure it has at least 13 bullets.

Sometimes, as writers, we can't help it. The deserving Airman is just stronger in other areas, but as a writer you need to be aware. Especially when competitively selecting your nominees. 

The scoring system filter's out those that are strong in one area, but weak in others - as it should since the system is based on the total person concept. 

Here is a strategy I will offer should you find yourself in that predicament. Since each bullet is worth approximately half a point, if you find you have more than four bullets under base/community and significant self-improvement, and they are border line job/duty related, then you can just transfer them up top. Though, only if you feel the remaining bullets are strong enough to receive the full two points.

After you have distributed your bullets properly, it's time to make some adjustments. It may sound silly, but spread the bullets around so the numbers, capital letters or acronyms are distributed evenly across the entire page. Have you ever seen a package where the numbers are stacked above and below one another? The writer has failed to take into account what I refer to as symmetry. 

Again, first impressions are lasting. It only takes a minute, and you might even find yourself rearranging the bullet in order to find the right balance. Do it; it's worth the effort.

The last insight for writing 1206's concerns diversity. A diverse number of bullets will stem from the writer and the nominee conducting a brainstorming session. The writer must ensure the package consists of a diverse number of bullets to retain the integrity of the package.

One example sticks out in my mind - an award package that had the additional duty acronym (TODO) sprinkled across five different bullets. My first impression was that is all they do for job performance, and that affected the integrity of the package. Seeing the same type of bullet over and over will raise doubt or questions concerning the individual from a total person standpoint.

It's akin to an operational readiness inspection inspector. Inspectors are more critical when they find something out of place or wrong. Board members aren't going to be any different. Especially when the race is close, then they are looking for reasons to disqualify you. So don't give them any if you plan to use several bullets for one action, event, or program. I would recommend that you find different ways to get the point across.

Writing a package is intimidating for some, lengthy for others, and can be downright inconvenient for most. But I can tell you from personal experience that when the person you write on wins, it's a really great feeling for both sides. The winner and the writer both gain something. The writer gains respect from his peers and supervision, and the winner, well, he won didn't he?

To make the writing process easier, get involved with your nominee as early as time permits. Ensure your are keeping a log, journal or "love-me" list. Tracking their accomplishments can help expedite the writing process. And when it comes time to write, just remember the three insights: numbers, bullet distribution and diversity.

I've done the research for you, now it's up to you to use it. I challenge you all to write a winning package, and I look forward to the competition.