6 questions that will help you write a right brief.
My friend was complaining to me some time ago, how difficult it is to work for someone who cannot give over a proper project brief.
“I have a feeling that preparation, planning, thinking actions over, responsible approach, precise tasks are just not “in” anymore. Just because it is too much work. Everyone is swiping with words like: flexible, operative, action… And so we work in chaotic way, thoughtlessly and ineffectively, moreover under stress and confusion. But it is unnecessary.”
Of course, he is right.
People are often overwhelmed by a bunch of tasks in which they cannot find priorities. Due to lack of time they “solve” them superficially, trying to “kick off” everything quickly, just so someone else has it at the table.
And so when I heard in this podcast (the topic of the podcast does not fit to this blog post, rather to the previous one about Facebook) the part where Roger describes the situation what happens when we give superficial brief to the artificial intelligence, I thought of my friend.
And so what happens? Well, the AI will do EXACTLY what you told her to do. So if you told her only part, the outcome might be surprising.
I like technologies. IT world fascinate me, maybe because it is a bit of mystery to me, same as witches in fairy tales. :-)
From my point of you this accuracy is the beauty of technologies. The fact we know exactly what will happen when we use them. We adapt ourselves to this world, too. How could we not – when we live surrounded by this form of information, we learn to process it.
So why do we think that when giving a task to a person we do not need to say everyting?
What happens when we do not find enough time and enter task or delegate only superficially without giving over all data?
The counter part spends by exploration of the brief twice (or more) as much time. Part of it by thinking if the mistake is on his side, if he is completely stupid or if it really is not clear.
Other extra time sinks in him trying to call you to get all necessary additional information.Which costs us time, too, because we do not have it prepared.
We will both be agnry – he has a feeling we make a fool out of him while wasting his time and we have a feeling he wastes ours.
Right, a bit of paradox? Because time is scarce commodity.
To write a correct brief is not easy
I recall one training where they wanted to explain clearly how important the accuracy of the assignment of a task is.
My colleague, let’s call him Roman, a sales manager from a southern country, a big, hefty, dark-skinned type. To meet him at night, I cut and run. He received a piece of paper and scissors in his hands and instructions that he was supposed to do exactly and only what he was told by his colleague.
Second colleagues, let’s call her Alena, a tiny, slim blonde, always elegant and distinguished. She received instructions in the envelope that she had to guide her colleague, step by step to cut the triangle out of the paper. But she must not tell him the shape, only to guide him in which direction to cut.
It seemed so easy. And after ten minutes, shape like this:
And many screams: “NO!” The game ended with a mildly elevated voice of Alena: “Cut the triangle or I cut your balls off with the scissors.” :-)
Well, it’s not that easy.
And that’s exactly what Roger talks about in the podcast – artificial intelligence does exactly what we tell her to do. If we simply neglect something, it can cause such a big trouble, as in the case of Facebook.
Why wrong assignment to a colleague or agency shouldn’t mean trouble also? Because there are people on the other side, they can figure out what we need?
Yes, they are people, so (hopefully) they think about it. But you should not assume they do think exactly the same way you do. To ensure this, you have to make them think that way – by a proper brief.
You can google sample briefs, where they will surely describe to you what you must not forget in the right brief. But let’s look at it a bit “easy way” ;-), with common sense.
Ask yourself those questions:
Who do I write the brief, the task for? Does a man on the other side know me / our company? Does he have a good knowhow about the background we work in?
Did I explain the reason whyI want it? Or who do we do it for?
Did I mention all the materials, documents, previous orders in the assignment so precisely that they understand exactly what I’m talking about?
Did I thoroughly describe the requirements I insist onand which I do not want to leave on the other side’s creativity?
Is it clear from the brief when I expect the result?
Can there be a misunderstanding about the budget, investment?
Perhaps as bosses, you feel that those points apply only to the subcontractor’s assignments, that you will definitely not use them to enter your team’s tasks or to delegate. And that is a mistake.
The 46% of people in research for my latest e-book found the messy, unstructured input and feeling of being lost in tasks as a demotivating element they encounter.
Next time, during passing a task to a colleague try to ask yourself those questions. The extra few minutes you need to find answer to them will definitely pay off.
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