“Reporting is not Communicating. Reporting and communicating are not the same! Sending out information has very little to do with effective communication”
Lynda Bourne on Project Accelerator News
Communication is a fundamental part of delivering (or operating) an OSS because so many people are impacted.
Status reports can be a useful repository of information during project delivery. It should be clearly noted that they are a static data set, albeit with a time series (assuming the reports are recurring).
As Lynda Bourne goes on to say, “Effective communication requires you to send a message that is received, interpreted, and a response returned to you by the receiver so you can check the receiver has understood the message correctly.”
OSS projects are as much about organisational change management as any technical solution, so status reporting should never be confused with true communication. If we refer to John Kotter’s eight steps of implementing change as referenced against OSS projects here, communication is essential across all eight steps from Step 1 – Establishing Urgency, through to Step 8 – Incorporating Changes Into the Culture.
Communication is required to persuade, excite, inspire, guide, coordinate, empower and reinvigorate. How many status reports do that?
How many projects have you worked on where more time was spent on creating status reports than there was on real communication? And how many of the status reports were never read, or the message was never understood correctly?
Reports undoubtedly have their place. However, paperwork doesn’t deliver projects in the way that communication does.