This isn’t a post about mansplaining or anything like that. I’m simply taking
about explaining things instead of communicating them.
In regard to project management, explanations tend to be a reactive act.
Explanations are a way to justify why a project is behind. You could easily swap
“explanations” for “excuses” or “defenses”.
Communication on the other hand, can be a proactive thing. Daily stand ups, when
done properly, are a proactive way to ensure that any road blocks are identified
sooner than later.
When I say “done properly”, I mean that the person doing the stand up has to be
self aware enough to recognize when they are facing roadblocks, and are honest
enough to admit it.
There’s no shame in admitting you need help or aren’t living up to those
horribly tight estimates you promised out. It’s these acts of humility,
especially if done early, that can keep a project from going completely off the
They can also help to avoid bouts of over explaining why things are behind in
Personally speaking, I go out of my way to over communicate and rarely find
myself having to explain things. Even when things fall behind, which happens to
everybody from time to time, being open about it can make all of the difference
in the world.
Communicating leads to a high level of transparency. If everybody is on the same
page, there’s no surprises. Even when the shit hits the fan, if you’re
communicating regularly, there’s a higher likelihood of getting the help you
need to get back on track.
Sadly, at least from what I’ve seen with developers over the last 20 years,
the majority of folks don’t want to admit when things are going wrong. Usually
they will come around, but by the time they do, it’s usually too late to salvage
the project timeline.
I’m a big fan of daily stand up reports, especially via bots like Standuply and
Geekbot. I’m also not too proud to put it out in the open that “today sucked, I
didn’t get done what I wanted to”.
Being 100% honest during daily stand ups does wonders.
It sets an early tone if things aren’t going the way I hoped. It gives me an
opportunity to reflect on why things didn’t go my way. I even use the
opportunity to scope out the next day and make a positive affirmation about how
I’m going to kick tomorrow’s ass.
Is there such thing as over communicating?
Absolutely! But you need to have a really shitty manager.
I had one of these once. He asked me to stop updating my Asana tasks with notes
about my current daily status because he didn’t only cared about when things
were finished, and didn’t want to receive the notifications otherwise.
He didn’t care about what was going on until it was too late and things were to
the point that he was pissed off and employees were forced to explain and
justify what had happened.
Needless to say, I didn’t last there too long. Fortunately, managers like that
seem to be their own special breed of awful that comes around once in a career.