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High expectations

We’ve been talking about how the military uses the 5-paragraph order as one way to generate activity that is founded in organizationally relevant perspective. We most recently noted that this order-promulgation method isn’t just used at the top – it’s expected that all commanders at all levels use the system in full – from the commander of all forces in theater to every team-leader of even the smallest units.

But there’s one more thing to note about this: It’s not just that commanders are expected by their seniors to give the fully-prepared order – their troops also expect to receive it.

That is more profound a circumstance than you might suspect. Let’s see how it sounds the second time around.

Everyone who receives an order in today’s modern military expects to receive the full 5-paragraph order. A well-written, organizationally relevant (remember, the orders are modified according to the type and mission of the unit they are delivered to, diverging from the original order in contributory, integrative ways), comprehensive 5-paragraph order.

It’s what they will expect. In fact, it’s what they’ll demand. Everyone. At every level. Every paragraph.

They want to know what’s really important – how to adapt if things change: if conditions are other than expected, if a collaborating unit has difficulty meeting its targets in time or space, what resources they can draw on if the opposing force responds in unexpected ways. They want to be armed – with knowledge, with perspective.

And American and other modern military officers and non-commissioned officers make sure they are. It’s not a matter of discipline, mind you. It’s a matter of professionalism and pride.

Does your staff insist on being able to do what’s really needed, to the best and most effective degree possible, no matter how unexpectedly things may develop as they work? Do you want them to be able to do that?

Don’t kid yourself if you think this is too abstract for actual implementation. This form of perspective is absolutely vital. Perhaps you have heard – recently – what happens to military forces that have the most modern weaponry but are not armed with the methods – and the organizational leadership mentality they imply – that we’ve been discussing.

So, with that in mind, let’s ask the question this way: What would you do if there was a palpable expectation throughout your organization on the part of your employees that you will keep them fully informed and briefed in this way? How would you feel about that?

What would be your view about having such employees? Would you display the pride and professionalism they thus demand of you, as you do of them?

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