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Critical Conversations about CAD – Uncovering a Concern

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Critical Conversations [1]

Last time I talked about things that you might “notice”.  Now we turn to the things that you have noticed that have become a “concern”.

When you “notice” something, you are just perceiving repetitions that might have a pattern.  You are piecing together disparate items that may link to a common thread.   They might not have anything in common and never move past something that you just happened to notice.  This can happen a lot.  I have noticed many things that have nothing to do with any underlying problems.  They are just anomalies.  Unconnected bits of information that can be filed away (but keep them handy in your mind, just in case something comes up later).

I tend to notice things like my car making funny noises.  I hear things that do not sound right or that do not sound the same.  The AC might sound different.  The transmission might howl a little.  I used to have a Volkswagen Bug and it made strange noises all the time.  They tended to come and go.  I would make a mental note when I heard something strange and then wait to see if it would go away.  The noises usually went away.  It was just a noisy old car.

Unlike the noises my car might start and then stop making, the things you notice in CAD usually do not go away.  It is really a matter of how far and what impact these items might have.  When they move from one file to another.  When they pop up from one user to the next.  When you see them bridging one project and into another…  that is when they become “concerns”.

When things you “notice” become things that cause “concern” you need to address them.  It has gone beyond a random flareup of individual items.  It has now moved in to a repeating sore spot.  It is happening on a regular basis and seems to be spreading.  It is not getting better.  It might even be repeatable – you can make it happen.  It has not been enough just to raise awareness via a “I noticed something” conversation.  It is now time to gather the troops.

The first point of addressing them might be a critical conversation.  Here is how that conversation might go.

“Hey Bob, I see that you are having troubles with plotting.  I noticed that with others and I am becoming concerned.  Can you tell me a little more about your troubles?”  “Stacy, I am concerned that I may not have communicated the standard for layer names” – this would follow you noticing that Stacy has not been exactly consistent in layer naming. “Dave, have you noticed that the High Rise project is having trouble with file transfer?  This is happening more and more and I am concerned that the files may be corrupt on some level.”

After the above intro, all of the conversations about concerns notify the person that something needs to happen.  It may call for deeper, formal investigations around the problem, or it may be a call to action focused on avoiding the trouble spreading.  This critical conversation – at the “concern” level – is calling for action.  It is not just that you are noting something.  You are stating that the problem now needs to be addressed.  It may no longer be a suggestion.  By addressing the problems that have risen to concern level, you salvage the files and project before they become issues that can have severe negative impact.  You catch the problems and solve them – usually within the flow of normal work.

Once you have this level of conversation, things should happen.  Someone, maybe you, will move toward resolving or uncovering the deeper problem.  The project staff may need to have a meeting to see how pervasive the problem is.  You may have to dig into some files to see what is happening. You (or someone) will have to expend time to define the problem and try to get it taken care of.  This level of conversation usually does the trick.  People do not like hearing the word “concern”.  When they do, they seek to alleviate the concerns being discussed.

The only level higher than a ‘concern” will be discussed next.  Identifying an Issue.

 

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