The biggest barrier to good communication is human nature.
When implementing the system sustainment management model, you quickly find that information-sharing becomes a top priority. The results of great assessment don’t automatically become known to the teams that are identifying risks. And the ins and outs of a risk aren’t immediately apparent to those designing programs to mitigate the risk.
All mentally healthy humans see ourselves as something special. Why not? We are the stars of our lives. We came from somewhere and many of us have a solid plan on where we are going.
This does result in some illogical behavior.
Researchers have put slightly embarrassing T-shirts on people and put them in a room with others. The T-shirt person consistently reports feeling as though everyone was noticing them and judging them. The others consistently report not noticing the T-shirt and certainly not caring who might be wearing it.
So much for special.
Being all wrapped up in ourselves leads to a very predictable behavior during technical briefings. The person briefing launches immediately into the middle of their topic without setting the stage.
Anyone in the audience from ally to enemy, minion or decision-maker, is immediately at a loss as to what the topic is, why it is important, and how it affects them.
Start your briefings with:
A title that reflects the topic and is easily remembered, e.g. “High Failure Rates on Depot G7 Gyro Final Acceptance Automated Testing Equipment”
A one-sentence pitch on why this is important: “If we don’t do something soon, we won’t have enough gyros within 18 months. And then we will lose sorties.”
A reminder on where you left it: “Last time we talked, we didn’t yet have data on how often the testers were down, now we do.” Then recap the conclusions of your last briefing and where you are going with this one.
Help your audience just a bit!
DON’T make your briefing into an Agatha Christie novel where whodunit remains on the last page. Tell people what your conclusions are right up front: “I am going to show you data that tells us we have 18 months before serious impacts. And by “serious”, I mean….”
It’s only polite.