People tend to talk about each other, but not with each other

An internal customer is complaining that a developer promised to deliver in 6 weeks and that was 12 weeks ago! “They never deliver as promised! I even kept sending emails to remind him, but these were simply ignored."

I went to the developer.

"I heard that you were going to deliver a design in six weeks, but that’s already 12 weeks ago. What’s the story?"

"Well, actually I don’t exactly know what they want. There are so many options. Should I solve it this way, at quite some cost, or just do it quick and dirty. What do they really want? I’ve sent them an email, but I didn’t get an answer."


I got them both in a room. Within 10 minutes the questions were resolved and a plan made. Within two weeks the design was done. Everybody happy.

Note that initially it’s useful to have a moderator at the short-circuit meeting, because usually they first start complaining and defending. The moderator cuts that short, lets them tell their position, and asks what really was the question and the expected outcome. This way people quickly come to a common understanding and are quite capable of solving the issue.

After a few times, people learn that they can do this themselves and get issues out of the way quickly, making their life easier. Now they can focus on the things they can do, rather than spending energy in their mind about the things they think they cannot do. It saves a lot of time.