The Sixth “R” of Reporting – Responsibility

Last week I covered the fifth stage of Reporting as a Project Manager; Regret. There’s always the stage where you understand what’s going on and the inevitable reaction that follows; regret. That’s a powerful force, to truly see and know the flaws, and a good detailed study helps you understand the results and what’s wrong (and right).

Sometimes regret feels pretty good. At least you know what’s wrong.

So what happens after going “hey, our reporting system is flawed” or “OH MY GOD I’VE BEEN LIVING A LIE?”

The next stage is Responsibility. Someone has to step up and take responsibility and say “I’ll fix this.”

If you’re the Program Manager or Project Manager who did all this? Guess what you’re the first person to stand up and be responsible for how this gets fixed.

You won’t be alone, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Here’s why you’ll stand up to fix it:

  • First of all, you’re a Program/Project Manager. You use this report, it reflects your projects, you should lead making it work. You might be the one who cares the most.
  • Secondly, you’re a Program/Project Manager, and you’re an organized bugger. You might as well do it.
  • Third, you know the data, what it means, how it’s transformed, and what it’s supposed to do. You remember how you had to learn all that stuff? Yeah, well now you know it.
  • Fourth, someone’s got to. It might as well be you.
  • Fifth, you kinda publicly showed what’s wrong, people are going to figure you’ll solve it.

Though really, number two is always a big part. People like us naturally try to fix things. You’re going to do it anyway.

I also said you won’t be alone. You won’t.

See a good mapping, a good discussion, a good exposure will lead people to help, to solve problems, to fix things. The people that stand up and try to help? They’re the ones you can count on to help you on this.

Come to think of it you might find people who can help you on other things by seeing who stands up.

Scary? No, I find that people will stand up to help, they will take responsibility. You’ll probably be surprised. I usually am.

So now you’ve taken responsibility, and you’ve found those who will help. We’ll get to the final stage next.

Well the sort of final stage. That takes a little explaining, so be patient . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

The Fifth “R” of Reporting – Regret

So you’re a Program Manager or Project Manager. You’ve been trying to get your reports working. I’ve let you through the first four stages of reporting – Reporting, Researching, Relating, and Revealing. You run the reports, study it, connect it, and then reveal the whole giant shebang.

This leads to stage five, my favorite stage.


(Now the fact that this is my favorite stage sounds a bit sadistic, but I’ll cover that next.)

So you now the whole reporting structure is laid bare. T he sources of data apparent. The ways information is interpreted is known. And in most cases, people can now, in an informed and intelligent manner, panic.

Because know what? This is probably not what people expected.

That’s great. But my guess is that there’s going to be some Regret.

First of all, the Regret is honest. It comes from an informed, if now panic-laden, opinion based on all the hard research you’ve done. In short, it’s a good, honest worry.

Secondly, the Regret is shared. All the reporting is out in the open and people know that any concern is honest and why it exists.

Third, the Regret is a motivator. Which is not the yes motivator, but it’s one you’re very likely to encounter, so you might as well get it out of the way.

Fourth, it gets things out publicly and thus sets a good example for honestly. You, the owner (formally or informally) of the reporting are showing the truth of things – and in a way offering to fix it (which you were going to do anyway). People will follow that example.

As one of my managers once put it, to paraphrase, “I’m glad I know what’s going on and feel bad that I know what’s going on.” Then noted I should fix it. Now admittedly he was a great manager, but I think you’ll notice similar results from others you work with.

(And if things are good? Awesome. Enjoy. Because I find even the usual “report decay” sets in pretty quickly.)

So now you’ve got a nice, good proper regret at what’s bad going on.

Now it’s time to fix it.

And why is this my favorite stage?  Because of the sheer honestly.  These moments we find flaws, these moments we truly admit the mistakes and errors, are moments where we grow and where we can admit mistakes.  There’s an honesty to seeing problems and then addressing them.  There’s also the humbling experiences when you see mistakes made, even by others, and you can admit your own flaws.

And then we’re on to our next stage . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at

The Fourth “R” of Reporting – Reveal

I’ve been going through the seven R’s of Reporting for Project and Program Managers. So far we’ve had:

  • Report – always keep the reporting running.
  • Research – Figure out what’s actually going on.
  • Relate – find how the data ties together.

We’re on to stage four new – Reveal.

OK you’ve run the report. You figured out the parts. You determined how they connect together. You know, in short, how the whole reporting system runs. Or doesn’t run. Or runs incomprehensibly. Either way, you know how you get from point A to point B.

So now you reveal it. You figured it out, you documented it (you did, right?), now you show it to people.

First, you reveal it to yourself. You should look over this reporting system you were handed and look it over. Analyze it. Get to know it. Understand the repercussions of it (some of them can be pretty weird)

Now as you examine it you’ll quickly have ideas of what to do and what it means – write those down. Make records. Because as people find out what you know, you’re going to be asked how to fix things and so forth; have solutions before there are questions.

Next, after you reveal to yourself? Reveal to everyone possible.

I’m not saying tell everyone-everyone. THere may be issues of security, dignity, or avoiding causing a panic. But frankly, I believe in making a reporting system and the information about it as widely available as possible to all those who care.

You do this because you do want reactions, you do want feedback, and you do want people to know how it works. Wether it’s appreciating how great it is or freaking out over the potential issues, people should know.

Now this may not make everyone happy. It does require some thought. But you want it as public as possible.

I’ve found few downsides to a “revelation” and many upsides – those usually being good feedback. Besides, since you already thought over some solutions, you’re ready to jump in.

(And why wait this long to go to Reveal? Because you want to have your story right. Sure any major crises should be brought up, but I’ve found quite a few times that early panic isn’t helpful.)

But not everyone reacts well to these revelations. In fact you may not. This is a vital part of the reporting process, and we’ll get to the Fifth R next . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at