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Predictable Communicative Outcomes

March 15, 2014

Here in Atlanta, we have had a spectacularly brutal winter this year, though, I would also venture to say that after so many mild ones, a normal winter seems downright unpleasant all around. Ice storms, heavy rain, sustained temps well below freezing. One has to wonder if I should put my house on the market and head to Florida. During Icepocalypse Part II – The Sequel, this was a spirited topic of discussion.

Consequently, my time outside, and more specifically on my mountain bike, has been less than half of what it was this time in 2012 and early 2013. Further, anytime the weather has been even somewhat passable, I’ve been texting my riding buddies, and heading to the trails. For a mere glimpse of sun, we have done our best to get back in shape and wear ourselves out acting like twelve year olds again. As an aside, and also relevant to the discussion topic for today, I have a few different bikes that I ride on a regular basis. One is a tricked out, full suspension thing that has paddle shifters, and feels like a Ferrari on a downhill. Fast, fun, efficient, modern. My other, and more heavily ridden bike is a rigid cro-moly steel, single speed. No school, like the old school right? Suffice to say, this thing is a throwback to my BMX days as a kid, but big enough to fit my modern, almost 40 physical incarnation. I love it.

Earlier this week, we again, had a bout of heavy rain, which was followed by low 40’s and high winds. Since the sun decided to show itself shortly after, I made time on my schedule to hit the trails with my most favorite of rides, my Surly Karate Monkey. However, after packing up gear and getting ready to hit the trail, I decided, quite randomly, to swing by my local bike shop to see about time & cost to change the config on the Monkey. While discussing this with a riding buddy who works at the shop, the mechanic called me over to where my bike was and said, “dude, look…”. I stared in utter disbelief at a hairline crack in the arch of my front fork. Talk about a moment of clarity…

Just minutes before, I was headed to the trails to do a downhill run on a route that called for 25mph + speeds and sizable jumps that in the past have sent me flying 6 to 8 feet through the air all while flying down the flow of a truly epic trail system.

So, what does this have to do with the typical content here? Why talk about my inner twelve year old antics and how I almost killed myself on a Tuesday in March?

Simple. When was the last time you had a deliverable or a project cruise along smoothly, only to go completely sideways at the last minute? How did you handle this unexpected transition from workable to non-workable? What did you do? How did you deliver bad news or manage the expectations of your client or stakeholders?

Over the past few years of my career, these situations have of course popped up – sometimes on a frequent basis depending upon where I was and what I was engaged in at the time. Good times are easy. Success is is too, especially if you know why you are being successful. Tough times, not so much, and being able to understand where things went awry and explain that to the stakeholders involved facilitate your level of success.

I have found that complete transparency breeds complete accountability.

Whenever in doubt, communicate where you are and were you expect to be. And, when you are finished communicating this information, communicate it again.

If your stakeholders, clients, co-workers have an understanding of YOUR understanding, you will likely be ahead in all cases.



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