November 26, 1996 03 00070 96112601
Mr. Thomas W. White Project Engineer Department of the Army San Francisco District, Corps of Engineers Oakland Harbors -42' Navigation Improvement Project Construction Services Branch 2000 Embacadero, Suite 100 Oakland, CA 94606
|Subject:||Oakland Harbor Project, Contract DACW07-95-C-0003|
Re-submission of notes for meeting on Nov 19, 1996|
COE Procedures on Meetings, Accuracy of Communications
Per your request, here is another try at sending notes of the 961119 meeting. At the Schedule review meeting today, we gave Bob Johnston a full printed set. He was also given printed copies of the Executive Summary/Action Item cover sheet for each of the Progress Meetings from Oct 1, 1996 when we began using Communication Metrics. This satisfies Bob's concern expressed at the Progress Meeting today, that Dutra has not received these documents in the past, despite your strong recollection during the meeting of having sent these materials to the Contractor along with the notes of the meetings.
I suggest sending Dutra a transmittal tomorrow itemizing these submissions, as having been made, and now being re-submitted, today, per his request, at the Nov 26 meeting at 0130p on Action Items held at the COE SFD office. It might further be useful to state in future submissions to Dutra of notes on Weekly Progress meetings that the submittal includes the Executive Summary and the notes, so the burden is on Dutra to notify COE if they do not receive either or both.
Regarding the accuracy of the notes which Gail Staba questioned and Rob Andrews joined in requesting a change in methods on behalf of the Port of Oakland management, I very much appreciate your opinion at the meeting that a site visit would be helpful. Hopefully this can be scheduled in the next few weeks, subject to Tom Keesling's approval.
Additionally, it might be useful to send a letter to the contractor explaining that COE makes every effort to ensure accurate communications. Meeting Notes are given heightened scrutiny, using Communication Metrics to ensure alignment with project requirements and commitments. They are typically reviewed by 2 - 3 people each week, and as many as 10 or more people have the opportunity to review them prior to submission to the Contractor. Very few inaccuracies have been found in the notes.
Of course errors escape even the most rigorous review, and so COE asks that recipients of the notes immediately notify the Engineer of any error they perceive so that COE can investigate and make timely corrections, rather than proceed under misunderstanding that will cost time and money to fix later. Gail Staba's suggestion to use a stenographer which was joined by Bob Johnston, may be helpful for the Port and the Contractor, though it likely will conflict with their expression of not having enough time to read the record. Stenographic records require a lot of time for a lot of people to read for correction of errors in transcription, which occur routinely due to misunderstanding by the stenographer. Getting timely, accurate information that is useful to management is a difficult job that takes time and expertise. COE's procedure using Communication Metrics, described above, intends to accomplish that goal at minimum cost.
Rob Andrews made a good point that the notes are unwieldily and so should be summarized. The Executive Summary and Action Items are intended to accomplish this goal. They enable an executive to grasp what transpired at a long detailed meeting by examining a single page. They also show connections to the details of what was understood with respect to performing specific contract requirements and commitments in the broader information space of documents, calls, dialog and email.
A contracting agency, like COE, typically needs to discover at the earliest opportunity if the Contractor has a different understanding of critical details, correlations and implications relative to contract performance. The details in the notes are therefore submitted to the Contractor so that the Contractor can notify COE of any such differences. So far, there has been only a single report of something left out of the notes, and that was corrected. This indicates the COE review process is working about as well as possible.
The Port is in a different position from the Contractor. Consideration might be given to asking the Port if they prefer to receive only the Executive Summary and Action Items, in order to save time needed to review the detailed notes. Alternatively, it might be suggested that the Port receive the full notes and simply review the portion for which they have a particular interest. In Gail's case this might be environmental issues. Gail has been asked on numerous occassions to review this part of the record in drafts of notes for Progress Meetings, and also to submit memos for inclusion in the record of her ideas and activity with the Contractor and others impacting the project.
Gail and Rob mentioned today that they don't have enough time to read the detail, submit comments nor to submit written memos. Gail did, however, submit a memo of a meeting on Nov 15, and it was very helpful in preparing the notes for the Nov 19 Progress Meeting. Of course doing this regularly takes a lot of time and focus to correlate all of the discussions with people, with all of the documents and contract requirements, as COE is doing with Communication Metrics. Perhaps the Executive Summary is the "simple solution" for the Port of Oakland to the very complex challenge of aligning people through communications, which Rob requested today that COE provide.
THE WELCH COMPANY