One thing I've noticed is that a lot of colleagues don't know how to give good situation reports. One common error, especially amongst engineers, is to start from first observations and work towards a conclusion. This is exactly how one should think about technical problems, but it's not a very effective way of communicating, especially when you're trying to relay information up a chain of command.
Here's how I learned to give a situation report during my brief stint in the armed forces:
- "I am" (identify yourself & other parties involved; give location where appilcable)
- "I see" (What is on your radar? What's the problem? What situation is developing? Which milestone have you reached?)
- "I'm doing" (How are you responding to what you see?)
- "I want" (How can your interlocutor help? What resources do you need?)
The mnemonic for this is rather funny: "I'm lost. I can't see shit. I'm doing fuck all. I want to go home."
I think it works rather well in civilian life, too: "I'm working on $FEATURE. I'm noticing that page load times have doubled. I'm caching the results to try to reduce that a bit. Could Bob have a look at the database indexes?"
ycombinator.com | > a lot of colleagues don't know how to give good situation reports.Josh Beckman
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