Have you been asked to build a Concept of Operations (CONOPS)?

But you're not sure what a good CONOPS looks like? Or what a CONOPS should ALWAYS contain?  Or what it should NEVER contain?  Or even what template to use?

Then relax.  We can help you with all of that.



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Whether you are building a CONOPS for a client, looking to empower and upskill staff in your company/agency, or looking to add skills to your own resume, you will want to impress your clients and potential employers.  That requires the very best possible CONOPS, using exactly the right templates and a modern, inclusive format


"You only get one chance to make a first impression."

Not understanding the fundamentals of creating a strong, modern CONOPS can lead to immeasurable damage...

Damage To You Personally

Imagine creating a substandard CONOPS (wrong content, incorrect operations protrayals, etc.) and getting angry pushback from the client. It happens a lot!  That will NOT please your leadership nor provide a good resume item for you.  So you won't be more employable elsewhere, and you'll stay at your current employment level.  Neither option is good.

Damage To Your Company

Your company/agency can lose customers because the staff is unable to generate customer-acceptable CONOPS. (Think about it: You are writing an operations-focused document and giving it to real operations experts to read! What could go wrong?)  A bad CONOPS can make your customer wonder if your team really understands what he/she is really trying to do.

Loss of Staff

Good people get job offers all the time.  People want to work where they are challenged, where they can see the results, and talk with end-users who appreciate them.  Many companies are experiencing high staff turnover due to boredom, lack of responsibility, and slow upward mobility. Giving your young engineers the skills to tackle CONOPS creation will excite them, let them work with users, and give them the new opportunities they crave.

Damage To Your Clients

Your clients' programs and projects compete for funding.  All. The. Time.  And well-written CONOPS are often your customer's #1 internal marketing tool to build and retain support for their system/program from leadership and stakeholders.  A solid CONOPS helps them win those fights.  A crappy CONOPS can sink the entire effort.  You owe your clients the most thorough, readable, useful CONOPS you can build.

A recent study showed fresh college grads ranked employer-provided training above salary in priorities of benefits that make a job attractive.

When you Work with Smooth Projects you can count on...

  • Industry Knowledge -  we have made every imaginable mistake there is to make with CONOPS and customer-centered design, and some mistakes you probably cannot imagine.  We have been able to see how every US military service and the Intelligence Community builds CONOPS, and we have trained (and learned from) the best in the business.
  • End-user support -  Our TechCONOPS process requires regular discussions between users and contractors, which inevitably builds the rapport you need between parties.
  • Real-world examples and lessons - We walk the walk.  We are not just academics with a teaching syllabus that someone handed us to train with.  We wrote the book on CONOPS and have built more CONOPS and supporting documents than all our competitors combined. 
  • Active, scenario-based, immersive training -  This training approach has proven to be the most powerful, long-lasting way to learn anything:  From radar controller instruction, auto-driving training, parachute training, firearms instruction, collaborative CONOPS building, and teaching people to fly aircraft, this training approach is the gold standard for achieving extremely high skill-retention rates.  (And the fact that we have actually taught in all those areas means we know how to train.)
  • Guidance from experienced, qualified instructors:  Even our virtual, on-demand courses are supported by live sessions with an experienced, Smooth Project instructor. The result is long-term retention of key concepts and how to employ them.  Plus our graduates have a deep understanding of the way things are done a certain way so, when needed, they can improvise and tailor their approach.  We make our customers CONOPS experts, able to handle any surprises.
  • Full Service: We can teach you to build an outstanding CONOPS, help you build one, or build it for you (turn-key).  And if we lead the effort (turn-key), you and your team will not be passive observers - - - you will be learning how to build CONOPS too since we also train as we build.
  • Making a Real Difference - Projects with Technical CONOPS progress faster, are smoother, and deliver better quality systems to the end-users, sooner.  We were recently told . . . " This training is making more contribution to our nation's defense than anything you could possibly be doing. And nobody else can do it.  So keep it up!" 
How Do I Find Out More?

Reviews from Previous Students


"I just attacked my first CONOPS since your class. I had written several before that were, personally, unsatisfactory, hence my enrollment in your course. Now, back in the CONOPS saddle, I blew my client’s socks off. They have been bidding DoD work since the earth was young but never ever have seen/done a CONOPS. The ultimate test will be if they win (which, happily, is not entirely based on a great CONOPS). I will say that your course has truly made my CONOPS writing shine. It was an incredible pleasure writing the thing as I knew precisely what needed to be said and how to say it. I didn’t know that before your excellent class. Thanks again.”
(John C. - - - Senior RF Engineer at Major US Prime Defense Contractor, Arlington, Virginia)


"...I found it to be one of the few practical and immediately useful courses I've taken in or out of the Air Force. I had never written or been part of the process that produced a CONOPS before I attended and I was carrying 26 years of bias against courses of this type. Mack McKinney's approach was far too meaty, and "uncommon" sense oriented not to enjoy. He's teaching this course at the AOC and I think you'd enjoy both his presentation and his overall approach to writing and evaluating CONOPS" 
(Bill B. - - -Colonel, USAF, retired, now contractor at US Air Force's Air Combat Command, Virginia)

Developing the skills to create first-class CONOPS will... 

  • Make you more employable (a recent google search of CONOPS and "job" generated almost 18 million search results).
  • Please your customers by ensuring your clients are 100% happy and keep returning to you for new contracts/systems. Systems development efforts using Technical CONOPS are delivered faster, on-budget and better meet the end-users needs and expectations.
  • Generate revenue for your company, (or generate respect and appreciation for warfighters if you are a government agency)! Building our style of Technical CONOPS is now a revenue-generator at many defense contractors where it becomes a contractual line item in the SOW and a customer-funded CLIN. But it is end-users who benefit the most from succinct, powerfully worded, factual CONOPS because they get more of the combat-critical capabilities they need, and less of the "fluff" that they don't.

Partner with us in developing the skills

to create CONOPS your clients will LOVE


I want to be the CONOPS subject matter expert in my organization. I would like to get a seat in the very next public course, virtual or on-site.

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My team at work would really benefit from this training. I would like to talk with someone about a private course for us, either virtual or on-site.

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Just the Essentials

I have an urgent deadline to complete a CONOPS so I need training now! 

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(Your Quickest Option)

Let us build your CONOPS for you.

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Virtual on-demand (coming soon)

Even more training material than our in-person courses! Done at your own pace.

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Virtual on-demand (coming soon)

Learn the CAFE tools for getting deep, interest-driven collaboration between teammates, stakeholders, users, and leadership.

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"[This] outstanding Executive CONOPS Course continues to be an immense asset to our business operations here at Raytheon. This course is much more than just a one-time learning exercise, it has provided both intellectual and tangible material that continually refines our department's abilities to develop CONOPS supporting nearly every proposal and product line in our business."
(Rob van Sice, Colonel, USAF, retired and Operations Lead, Raytheon Missile Systems)


"Thank you very much for conducting a solid CONOPS course. You covered everything I sought to learn and questioned. I've been utilizing my newly acquired skills and tools since the day after."
(Ray C.  - - - Cyber Engineer, US Navy Cyber Command)

Meet Mack McKinney

Founder of Smooth Projects

As an Air Force officer, radar controller, pilot and seasoned defense contractor, and inventor with US patents in hyperspectral sensing and radar processing, Mack has “walked the walk” of a military systems user and developer.  Now, with 40+ years of hands-on experience, he is leading the charge by giving back and training the generations of tomorrow. 


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Take Our Free, 10-minute, Video based CONOPS Mini Course

This mini-course will have you sounding like an expert in less than 10 minutes. Completely free, no strings attached.

We have worked with many of the nation's premier organizations and we are proud of those relationships. But the appearance on this website of logos or trademarks of corporations or government organizations where we have taught our courses doesn’t mean they agree with our statements or endorse our products.

But they should.


The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information on this website does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement of our products and services.