Improve Visibility by Rejecting Bogus Status Updates
My paranoia is kicking in and I sense something is wrong.
It’s our weekly status meeting and Mark is leading the effort to stand up an integration test framework for our new authentication service. The next step is to get a test running in CI that blocks the build on failure. He needs to work with Susan, the service owner, to get this in place.
The status doc says “Met with Susan to discuss standing up initial blocking test.”
A status should communicate one of three different states:
- Progress is moving forward as planned.
- Progress is moving forward but there are some blockers hindering current or future progress.
- The team is blocked and not making progress.
As written, Mark’s status fails to fall into any of these three states. Technically meeting with someone represents some progress, but there is no reference to the state of the project.
Status reports are often vague to avoid conflict.
In this case, Mark doesn’t want to appear to be accusing Susan of being non-cooperative, especially since he trying to persuade her of something. To work around this I recommend coaching your team to close discussions with a “What should my status be?” question.
In this case the corrected status is:
“The test work is being deferred in favor of completing the service implementation.”
This is far more illuminating and gives me something to work with. Perhaps this tradeoff is the right call, or I need to chat with Susan’s manager to ensure our priorities are aligned. Regardless, the status update is now delivering value and I have the information I need to support my team.
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