Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Status Reporting: To be or not to be

The recent weeks there have been conversations and discussion around Status Reporting. Both up and down the organization food there seems to be an inherent distaste for the status report. Sometimes it is around the content of the status report, sometimes frequency and sometimes the very existence of one is questioned.  It made me think and ponder. So I did some reading and came across this perfect write up that summarizes in my mind how some of us feel around status reports and growing organizations. Thanks to Rands in Repose blog for the following paragraph


There are two organizational inflection points which drastically change communication within the organization. The first change occurs around fifty or so people — this is the moment when, if you’re an early employee, that you first see someone in he hallway that you do not recognize.

This is troubling to you because, until that point, not only knew everyone on a first name basis, but you also knew what they were about… what they were responsible for… what floated their boat. Now, there’s an unknown quantity in the building.

This awkward, but necessary evolution of the organization, passes. You accept the fact the company is growing and you decide to focus your attention just on your group… who cares what those schmoes over in the support group are doing, anyhow? You’ve got an engineering organization to build.

The second organization inflection point happens somewhere around two hundred… two hundred and fifty. The problems identified during the first inflection point are serious problems now. Fiefdoms have been created in your organization and they’re not talking to each other. What made your organization great early on, great communication, is still going on.. it’s just going on inside of each of your organizations and not across them.

Executives in these larger organizations may be the first to recognize this when they’re meeting with these different organizations and get the impression these individuals teams don’t work for the same company.


The context of this is at the end of the day communication is required to know what is happening in the organization. There is no better solution than a status report. Period.

So now comes the question around frequency and content of the status report. Two things are important in my mind. Producing a status report should not be a long drawn out process. The reason it ends up being is because as the information flows through the different levels it takes a change in format and style. Also after some time people don't take them seriously and it becomes a copy paste process.

Is there a solution or a fit all for this problem pool. I don't have a great answer but if people continue to be serious about thinking status report as a reflection of their quality of work, I think we can make this whole issue on status report more effective.

Like Churchill said, it's a horrible system but the alternatives are even worse. Why? Cause we don't have a good way to deal with decision making in complex systems.

Gosh , I need to complete and update my status report :)

Doing Increasingly More with Increasingly Less

As the US economies goes through a tough time and borders on the edge of recession, every organization is required to do a lot of soul searching of their business plans and their operational model. As experienced economists fantasize and visualize the world through their ideal world models the  and seasoned politicians shmooze their their way with grandiose plans, what does an individual employee do as his part to support the organization. That's where the individual team member,developer, tester, middle manager and everyone can act like an entrepreneur.

What I've always believed in is that under ALL circumstances, we need to do increasingly more with increasingly less. Period.

This is not a call for beating one self up with more workload, more stress and less available time. It's just the opposite. On the contrary it is a mechanism to get through tough and trying times where one needs to trust the gut and follow the smarts and that is one can do more with less. That's what our American spirit is all about. It creates winners that produce better stuff using fewer resources.

This is a call for evaluating every small decision you make through the lens of operational and financial efficiency. Will developing a small utility help me operate more efficiently than the way I do today? Does it save time or rework for me? 100's of decisions by individual team members actually contribute to the success of any undertaking. By wearing this lens of operational and financial efficiency they can not only contribute to their immediate teams but also establish the spirit that yes we can do increasingly more with increasingly less.