Lesson Learned: Close the Loop in Communication

During one of my design projects, an internal stakeholder reminded me that a few features needed to be included in the design. I said, ok, let me check with the designer fellows I worked with. So I brought those into discussions with them, we dropped one of the feature options because it didn’t make sense for that particular device. Then, we moved forward with the design, talked with developers for feasibilities, reviewed with clients and all that.

The thing was, I totally forgot to get back to that stakeholder on decisions made on those features, as I thought he would review what we did in design reviews later, so I didn’t even think to call out decisions on those features that he reminded me, to him, like in our checkin or chat. No, I totally didn’t do it.

Later, after a couple of weeks, he checked with me on the finished designs and asked me what was going on with features he mentioned, because when he checked the designs, he didn’t find them there, but it’s important to have them, because that’s what he promised the client. Following his list, we went through the design and I needed to explain what our decisions were. Alias, we seemed to miss one or two more features from his list, I almost can’t explain clearly why, I was kinda like talking things all over the place — I’m pretty sure that we discussed all of them, but it was weeks ago and I don’t remember. So embarrassing, I felt my face burning.

“Let me check with my design fellow”, I said, “sorry for the confusion.”

He said, “That’s ok, I just need to make sure that we include them all.”

After that, I quickly followed up with the design fellow to clarify answers and scheduled a time to chat. This time, I’ll make sure that I get back to this stakeholder regarding his request.

Even though I moved forward, bad feelings were still lingering: how did this all happen? I normally pay much attention in closing loops, how did I miss all these?

My thinking was that when this stakeholder gave me his request, I didn’t pay enough attention to how important it was to him and I didn’t know that’s what was promised. I can simply ask if someone requests next time, just to get a feel of whether I needed to take care of it in a different way.

The second reason why this happened was that I was assuming that he would review the design together with the rest of the team and called out things as they saw missing. Well, turns out it was not always the case. Even it is, he would probably not have his feature checklist with him at the time of the review. It is something that I, as the request recipient, should actively cover.

Finally, I thought what I did stupidly in our checkin, was trying to talk him around, rather than a simple, “Sorry, it’s been a few weeks and I really can’t remember why we did that at this moment. Can I quickly check with my design fellow and get back to you?” How difficult was that.


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