INside Track: The Backstory

There have been many times when I’ve had an upset designer rush into my office and breathlessly jump into a story about something that went “horribly wrong” and that needs to be handled “right away”! After they wind down, more because they ran out of steam than because they’ve finished the tale, I usually have no idea what they were talking about. I’ve seen seasoned design directors do the same with their non-design managers, though with more discipline and less drama.

It’s easy to mistakenly assume that the person you’re talking to, especially if it’s your manager, already knows the backstory to your problem, but chances are, they don’t. Without that context, at best they’re going to roll their eyes and then walk you through relating the full story or at worst they’ll get frustrated and dismiss you from their office until you regroup and get your facts straight.

Before you go into a meeting to bring up an urgent issue, take a breath, think through and possibly write down the key points you want to communicate and make sure you briefly include the facts behind the problem, what the cause of the problem was, what the consequences of the problem are or will be and a possible solution to the problem. You’ll arrive at a workable solution more quickly and impress your boss too.