On closure

I work with many people, have regular email and phone contact with them, as well as occasional face to face meetings. We talk ideas back and forth, develop plans. I work on designs, coordinating everything that goes into those designs (usually built upon our kit). I work hard on my proposals, thinking many things through, developing very detailed plans. I share these with the people … our customers.

And then the pinging begins.

I need to get feedback on any/all aspects so I can adjust what needs to be adjusted.

And sometimes I get it. Sometimes, I hear back … “change X” or “wow, the pricing is not going to work.” So I ask for guidance, as we have some design flexibility relative to the goal sets, and we can make engineering design tradeoffs to hit specific targets. Not always, but many times we can. You have to be ready to compromise on the need/feature side to adjust other elements (price, size, space, power). We’ve got better configurability on our side … our architecture doesn’t change, but we can adjust which components are used (disk sizes, SSD with varying drive writes per day, etc.)

Without this feedback, its just a proposal hitting the initial request, without necessarily specifically being what is needed, but being what was originally wanted. My job is to leverage that feedback and try to converge the needs and wants together subject to the various constraints.

Its an interactive and involved process.

Interactive.

Which means, we need to hear back.

In far too many cases, we provide the initial bit of legwork, for something we are told is an immediate need, and yes they are willing to work on the interactive process with us, to converge on the specifics. And then we don’t hear back.

I check my keyboard for malodorous letters, make sure I don’t have an outbound email filter in place automatically transforming my notes to gibberish. I check to make sure emails I send actually get through, often by bccing them to another of my accounts on an external server. Google’s GMail has been … somewhat cantankerous … it will sometimes just lose outbound and inbound email. And we have no way to trace it. And yes we’ve notified them of this and filed bug reports. And no, their response was along the lines of “check your email client”. smh.

I try not to ping too frequently. I don’t like this done to me, and I don’t do it to others. I respect the people I communicate with. I expect that they are busy and have little time for things, which is why I take so much of the burden upon myself to be helpful.

But at some point, I have to question my sanity on this … should I continue to ping after the 8th or 9th email, spaced out over a respectful number of days?

What do I do when I am busy but working on a project with someone else?

I provide at least a little closure … I send a “I’m buried, will respond later/next week/next month/in another lifetime”. Something … to provide the feedback and ACK to the person kind enough to remind me of the project.

I wish I got this. Maybe 5-10% of the people I work with do this.

I am persistent, but I don’t want to be a pain. Likewise, sometimes pings can’t be answered right away. I get that.

But complete radio silence, after working hard on trying to solve the problems we’ve been asked to solve? This causes me to wonder if we have become a 2×4.

I know many people like to have an adversarial relationship with their vendors to keep them on their toes. We like a consultative approach, to enable us to show our value.

This is one of the more frustrating parts of business, the lack of closure. I’d be fine with a “thanks but not interested”. Its the ACK aspect I am after.

Seems to have gotten worse in the last several months.

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