It’s amazing how much is wasted because of vaguarities

Just a quick post, but I’m in a meeting and we’ve spent over an hour discussion how Team A needs information about Team B’s usage numbers, i.e. how many hours they’ve worked and for whom.

As an engineer it seems straightforward, but if we have our business glasses on (or sometimes called reality) we learn that Team B is using a tool that’s going end of life. I also suspect that it’s a SWAG metric that Team B’s been using for an order of magnitude estimate and they know that Team A is going to be using it as gospel!

So that seems like enough ambiguity with maybe 20-30 minutes of circular discussions, but because of the vacuity what happens is that we enter a downward spiral of “what if”, “why”, “why not”, “what are we going to do”, “who should do what” and this is multiplied many times over by multiple people inserting their own viewpoint of a facet.

Take a breath, take a break and take note;

If you don’t have a hard answer for something then write it down! Make a note to tell people you’ll investigate it and get back to them.

The most important thing you can do is Move On!

Don’t loose the battle of progress because of a single nail!

PS. I’m also sure I could use this experience to make a great case on how continuous partial attention enforces a marginalized standard of excellence. Of course I could also point out that at least I got a blog post written!

About jay

I'm trying to build something interactive where I can learn from others and hopefully share useful knowledge too.
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3 Responses to It’s amazing how much is wasted because of vaguarities

  1. jay says:

    Hey Texas Bob,
    I’m sorry I didn’t see your comments till now. My provider seems to have had email problems.

    I somehow thought “vagueness” just sounded too tame, and it was nice being the at a #1 google spot for a while for people who can’t spell. 🙂

    Your point about wiki’s is a great one. I think having the collective knowledge (and more importantly the collective decisions) reflected in a documented & public fashion goes a long way to forcing people to represent themselves with deliberation and fore thought. Even the act of saying “ok guys here’s what we’re writing down here” makes people stop and evaluate things in the context of “making a decision” rather then “hearing themselves talk”.

    Of course with that said, I was actually on a call today swearing at someone (privately) who not only couldn’t remember a decision that was already made and explained (that he was a part of making) but worse, who managed to “stir the pot” and dredge up all the old arguments.

    As you said, it’s crucial for people to talk things through and a liar (or over embellisher) is the worst kind of poison. But too often I’ve seen the “paralysis” that comes from good people pontificating about the “what if” scenarios and talking across each other.

    The act of “writing it down” seems to ensure (a) everyone’s solving the same problem and (b) that they’re not wasting time re-elaborating on a point that’s already been made, discussed and resolved.

  2. Texas Bob says:

    I really think a lot of these issues can be addressed through collaborative writing tools such as wikis—not mailing lists, but wikis—which avoid the waste of face-to-face meetings and save tons of time in the process.

  3. Texas Bob says:

    Well, to begin, “vaguarities” is not a word. Title should read: It’s amazing how much is wasted because of vagueness.

    Other than that, your points are well taken. However, don’t substitute efficiency for relationships. Sometimes people need to talk things out. It takes time.

    My real problem with business is not with talkative developers and project managers, but with marketing personnel who continually spin the truth—emphasizing strengths, ignoring weaknesses—so accurate decision making becomes impossible for current and potential customers. These are the institutional and pathological lies told by the entire marketing sector. They are not bad people—at least we can hope they are not—they are just short on business ethics.

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