How Much Detail to Share with Your Partners & Managers

In: management & operations|team work

4 Jun 2003

Joshua Allen: Leaf Nodes
"Ray Ozzie reacts to Don Park’s comment that "A CEO is not likely to know about about, let alone subscribe to, a lowly QA engineer’s blog." Ray is basically arguing that CXOs do want to know what is going on all the way down to the leaf nodes of their organizations, and many of them will use whatever available means to build the clearest possible picture. [...] I think Ray hit the nail on the head by pointing out that CXOs have to stay involved and close to the game, or else they’ll quickly lose grip on what’s happening."
I’m going through that question right now, as we’re forming a new company, defining our precise purpose and goals, putting in place a management structure, and all the things you have to go through during that process. I’m the detail-obsessed guy in the team, being convinced that execution rules and is built upon getting a thousand details right (which need to be hierarchized, some things are more important and deserve more resources and attention than others). And I’m struggling to tune the proper amount of details to share with the other partners, notably our (forthcoming) CEO (we’re completing the paper work, can’t tell more for the moment).
I’m trying to create working documents that both provide us the big picture (through exec summaries and detailed outlines – I’m the "2.4.1.3. Sub Sub Sub Chapter" type) and let recipients drill down to fine-grained details if they need to. I consider myself one of the recipients of my output, both to help me refine my thinking and for follow-up purposes. My ambition is to make sure we all keep in synch and keep track of what needs to be accomplished to reach our goals, but I need to find a way to do that which isn’t self defeating. I can’t drown my partners (with too much information) when I’m trying to help them swim in synch! Can too much visibility be counter productive?
In other words, I’m trying right now to communicate the value of project management to my partners, and to turn it a working practice that is compatible with a small start-up which needs to be flexible and nimble. But I still think this is essential, as a lack of follow-up could kill us. We’re beaming with so many ideas at this point (which is only natural at start-up stage) that we’ll need to keep sight on operational execution. But it shouldn’t look like censorship or ISO 9000-like produceral hell. It’s all about channeling energies, you don’t want to let them scatter nor kill them.

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I'm CEO of an online/mobile trade publishing firm in the marketing and defense verticals. We strive to make news and data digestible and useful in an environment that is noisier by the day.

This personal blog mixes my thoughts and interests on politics, business, publishing, software, and more. Over the years I have posted items that turned out spectacularly wrong, and a few posts that better stood the test of time.

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