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The Five M’s

When to Brief the Boss


In the last installment, we discussed the 3 C’s.  It so happens that this edition is also based on alphabet soup, the Five M’s.  I detect a pattern to how cops remember things. Maybe it has to do with learning the phonetic alphabet early on. Certainly the KISS principle is alive and well in policing.


At a recent assessment center, we asked executive candidates how they decide on which issues they share with the chief and which ones they keep to themselves to solve. Answers vary widely, but have a recurring theme. No one wants their boss to be surprised. But certainly, any chief administrator wants his direct reports to know what should be shared and what should be “handled.” One candidate had a strikingly simple approach that he said helped him know what to share and what to keep for himself. He said the “Five M’s

have served me well for many years.” 


None of us had heard of the 5 M’s, so the candidate was pressed to expound on them. Simply put, he rattled off: Mayor, Manager, Money, Major Crime and Media. 


If the issue will rise to the level of Mayor or City Council, the Chief is briefed.

If the issue will rise to the level of City Manager or Assistant City Manager, the Chief is briefed.

If the issue involves the budget in an unexpected manner, the Chief is briefed.

If the issue involves a Major Crime, the Chief is briefed.

If the issue will potentially result in Media involvement, the Chief is briefed.


The assessors and I thought this was an effective, concise method to define when the Chief should be in the loop on issues that he/she may ultimately be involved.  We discussed it briefly and what we all knew intuitively was put into a very effective format and easy to remember.  Maybe if administrators communicated this message early on in a new supervisor’s career, it would make the trial and error method of knowing what the chief needs to know a little bit easier.  What do you think? Do the 5 M’s cover the vast majority of the issues that definitely need to be brought to the Chief’s attention?

 © Copyright November 2014, All Rights Reserved