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

The Third “R” Of Reporting – Relate

So you’re a Project or Program Manager confronting the reality of reporting – you got a new project, a new job, and of course you have to get the information flowing. Or make sure it’s flowing. Or make sure it’s right . . .

You’ve been there. I have. You just need to make sure it’s working. Or fix it.

Now I’ve covered how the first thing to do in Reporting is, well Reporting; keep the reports going so you can figure them out. Secondly, you want to Research and figure all the parts of how things are and how they work. Of course that’s a lot of parts . . .

That’s where we get to tying them together – what I call the third R. Relate.

In a report data is transformed, condensed, discarded, stored, and disseminated. A JIRA entry becomes an excel cell. Vast data becomes a single number. Technical stats become business meaning.

A report is a giant structure of transformation – and you need to figure out how it works, how all those parts come together.

So thus, the “Relate” stage is building a map of your reports to understand how it works. Maybe you write it down, or draw a diagram or whatever. But either way your goal is to understand not just the parts, but the structure itself.

This lets you understand:
* Where data and information come from.
* How data is transformed and why.
* How it is stored.
* How it is presented and why.
* The technologies involved.

And most importantly

* anything missing, flawed, or broken along the way. Which can get to be a pretty impressive list, especially adding onto what you found in the last stage, Research. Sometimes you don’t see the flaws until you see the system in motion.

Ultimately, the goal of the 3rd R, Relate, is to understand data flow and expectations from point A to point B.  And yes, you’ll probably do this at the same time as the Research stage, or close to it, but I want to call it out because it is very much it’s own thing.

This leads to our next R . . . which I’ll cover, of course, next column. Because it’s a doozy.

– 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