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  • 1.  "No, that's not what I meant."

    Posted 08-03-2019 11:00 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 08-03-2019 11:00 PM

    According to Jay Doblin, author of A structure for nontextual communications,” [1]Communication is the production, transmission, and consumption of messages. Messages, discrete units of content, can be as simple as a wink or as complex as the Encyclopedia Britannica. To prepare ourselves to function effectively in this new era requires structuring communications. We begin by identifying and defining key terms. Whereas engineers know the precise meanings of the terms they use (such as torsion, moment, velocity, and so on) the terms communicators use are ambiguous.

    Doblin continues “We have three forms of information content":

    a.    Verbal.      b. Numerical.      c. Visual.”

    Every message has both form and content. If you do not see that immediately, STOP go back, and ask Hayden whatever questions needed to get clarity.


    Select any one or more below where you . . . perhaps ‘painfully’ . . .have an experience to share that might have been successful, if only you had . . . . .

    Q1. Irregular, inconsistent communication; lower level of comfort and familiarity among team members; “us vs. them” attitude.

    Q2. Little understanding of other members’ roles and responsibilities.

    Q3. Lack of formal timely opportunities to discuss work-related issues

    Q4. Few clearly defined processes for decision making.

    Perhaps another way of casting this exercise is to ask:

    Q5. What is your Project Communications Quality Assurance (PCQA) process to confirm that the message sent was, in fact, the message received?



    [1] Source: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-1068-6_7  downloaded 03AUG2019


    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 2.  RE: "No, that's not what I meant."

    Posted 08-14-2019 08:21 AM
    Edited by Chad Morrison 08-14-2019 09:41 AM
    Without getting into too many specifics... our engineering team communicates regularly with project managers, detailers, design teams, and general contractors.  Standard practice relies on the RFI method for formal communications.  The RFI originates from the delegated designer (me), detailer, or PM.  All 3 parties should be aware of what question is being asked and why... however this is not always the case.  Sometimes the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.  There are a few ways to handle this: include all parties in the RFI formulation, or have have one party settle the issue before passing it to the next teammate.  The trick is to avoid simultaneous work among team members who are not communicating which can generate conflicting results.

    To me, with the advent of BIM and new delivery methods, the RFI process appears to be more and more antiquated.  The formality is important for contracting purposes, but onsite meetings, conference calls, emails, and sketches often contain more useful information and directives to the problem at hand.  With email becoming the record for everything, the best we can do is follow up verbal communication with an email that cc's all who would find it of interest.  GCs often have their own submittal system which offers formal documentation for the whole project.  This system is often only accessible to certain team members.  Therefore, it is only as effective as the administrators who are responsible for distributing the information to team members who need it.

    Lastly, I know some folks are annoyed by read receipts.  My tips are: send read receipts by default & make outlook file the read receipts in their own folder (filter any subject that contains "Read:".

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
    (401)231-4870 EXT 2207