The Five Pillars of Management

Since about 2005, I’ve been using a learning tool based on the number “5”, called The Five Pillars of Management and it’s very useful as a quick reminder of what you should be doing as a manager. These Five Pillars prompt you to:

  1. Find out what’s going on and decide what you’re going to do in response, otherwise known as planning
  2. Do what you’ve planned to do
  3. Decide what you’re going to do when stuff goes wrong
  4. Work out how to put stuff that’s gone wrong right again
  5. Check that you’re doing what you think that you’re doing


Now, that’s a bit of a mouthful and a reminder should be short and snappy, so I summarise the Five Pillars like this:

  1. Planning it
  2. Making it
  3. Breaking it
  4. Fixing it
  5. Checking it


We taught a team of middle managers to use this tool recently and the results were immediate.  Unsurprising really as they weren’t doing any proper planning in the first place, and so that small change helped enormously.  As Winston Churchill said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”.


The team were okay at the “making” part, but hadn’t bothered thinking about fixing breaks or checking their assumptions.  Once they got off their chairs and started proactively managing rather than reactively coping, things got better.  Fewer failures and complaints resulted in greater efficiencies, money savings and more orders from newly satisfied customers. Fairly straightforward really; it makes you wonder why more managers don’t try it!


So, remember, “Plan, Make, Break, Fix, Check”. If you use the Five Pillars in your day-to-day management, then you won’t go far wrong.