Monday, September 17, 2012


If you've ever had to give instructions to an individual or a team, you know how easy it can be to omit key items. A good way to prevent that problem is to adapt the "five paragraph field order" used by the military. SMEAC is easy to remember and easy to use. Here's a handy version:

  • Situation: Give an brief and uncensored version of the current status.
  • Mission: Tell them what must be achieved.
  • Execution: Here, you get into the specifics of how the mission will be achieved. By the time you are done, they should know who is doing what by when.
  • Administrative support: Describe which resources will be needed and how they can be obtained.
  • Conclusion. This part is too often omitted. Tell them where they will be once the mission is achieved, what will have been accomplished, and what they must be prepared for at that stage. If this is not discussed, it can be easy to be surprised by new problems. 
Whenever giving orders on an important project, don't just tell people what you want; also tell them what you don't want. The contrast will give them a better perspective and a clear sense of the boundaries.

Giving orders in a comprehensive and clear manner is not something that comes naturally, but there is good news:  It can be learned!

- Michael Wade

[For information on Michael's coaching and training services and to get his free management tips e-newsletter, send him a note at] 

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