Monday, February 28, 2011


Normally sitting at the doctor’s office waiting for the doctor isn’t my idea of a good time. However, my office now does everything on a computer – so while you are in the room and waiting, a screen saver flashes a variety of documents and graphics portraying the values of the organization and offering clever mnemonics to improve communication, effectiveness and problem solving. Ironic as it may be to find applicable information in a doctor’s office; there are a few of the ideas that are worth presenting.

Situation: the current problem at hand
Background: review of pertinent information
Assessment of urgency, options, and course of action to take
Recommendations for proceeding

The 4 P’s
Plan: what happens next
Purpose of Plan: What is the desired effect and why
Problems: What are the known complications that will occur within the plan
Precautions: Expected or possible complications

One was about in taking information:
Qualify: is this accurate?
Validate: Does it seem right?
Verify: Seek independent reliable source

The last reminds us before doing a task to:
Stop & focus
Think about what we are doing
Review – was this the right thing to do.

In the SBAR example I like the reminder to think about urgency. Some things must be dealt with right away, other don’t. Tasks expand or contract (to a certain extent) to fit the available time. If you are really busy, you may just need to “get it done” and move forward – for example, you sand the piece but stop at 100 grit paper. When you have all the time in the world, perhaps you would continue to sand through more grits ending in 200. There are some things that you need to do “correctly” because if you don’t you will likely end up doing it a second time. But many times good is good enough. The key here is knowing the difference.

In the 4 P’s I like including the purpose of the plan. While the purpose may seem obvious, I can’t tell you how many times two people can read the same email or look at the same drawing and have two different ideas about what they read, how to proceed, or what they end result is. Today I ordered 2 white globes. I had originally asked for “frosted” as per design specs. When the price came back much higher than what was originally estimated, the answer was the white was estimated – not frosted. There is obviously a difference between the two, but in this case, on stage, 50’ from the nearest audience member, with dancers in front, white was close enough for the desired effect. In fact, it is possible that the frosted piece would have showed too much of the internal workings. Sometimes the true literal translation isn’t really what is needed. In this case white was cheaper, and possibly more effective.

In terms of qualifying and evaluation information I think it can be important to test your assumptions, but also run new information by your own gut response. In the globe example above this process was essentially used because when I heard the pricing for the frosted pieces my gut reaction was “no way, these should be a ¼ of that”… I sought more information and worked out the best solution.

As for the last item, occasionally I find myself half way through a project when I realize that there is a better way of doing something. Perhaps working through each step before the first step could avoid this. I also like the process of review as this is an essential step for learning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hardware Hangers

While looking through a trade magazine, I found some hardware that looks useful. The "Pick-N-Hook" works with corrugated plastic - you insert it into the opening between the ribs, and you can tie on fishing line, string, or whatever your cable is. The "Twist-N-Hook" works on foam board or gator foam. Seems like it would be useful for temporary displays, portfolio presentations and so forth.

Please note that these hardware units are not rated, are not approved "rigging hardware" and should not be used in any situation where the item hung could pose a danger to someone underneath if it fell.