NASA 13 Lessons Learned and Rules for Reviews and Reports:
Rule #34: We has established a set of reviewers and a set of reviews.
Rule #35: The number of reviews is increasing but the knowledge transfer remains the same; therefore, all your charts and presentation material should be constructed with this fact in mind. This means you should be able to construct a set of slides that only needs to be shuffled from presentation to presentation.
Rule #36: Hide nothing from the reviewers. Their reputation and yours is on the line. Expose all the warts and pimples. Don’t offer excuses-just state facts.
Rule #37: External reviews are scheduled at the worst possible time, therefore, keep an up-to-date set of business and technical data so that you can rapidly respond. Not having up-to-date data should be cause for dismissal.
Rule #38: Never undercut your staff in public (i.e., In public meetings, don’t reverse decisions on work that you have given them to do). Even if you direct a change, never take the responsibility for implementing away from your staff.
Rule #39: Reviews are for the reviewed an not the reviewer. The review is a failure if the reviewed learn nothing from it.
Rule #40: A working meeting has about six people attending. Meetings larger than this are for information transfer (management science has shown that, in a group greater than twelve, some are wasting their time).
Rule #41: The amount of reviews and reports are proportional to management’s understanding (i.e., the less management knows or understands the activities, the more they require reviews and reports). It is necessary in this type of environment to make sure that data is presented so that the average person, slightly familiar with activities, can understand it. Keeping the data simple and clear never insults anyone’s intelligence.
Rule #42: Managers who rely only on the paperwork to do the reporting of activities are known failures.
Rule #43: Documentation does not take the place of knowledge. There is a great difference in what is supposed to be, what is thought to have happened, and reality. Documents are normally a static picture in time that get outdated rapidly.
Rule #44: Just because you give monthly reports, don’t think that you can abbreviate anything in a yearly report. If management understood the monthlies, they wouldn’t need a yearly.
Rule #45: Abbreviations are getting to be a pain. Each project now has a few thousand. This calls on senior management to know hundreds. Use them sparingly in presentations unless your objective is to confuse.
Rule #46: Remember, it is often easier to do foolish paperwork that to fight the need for it. Fight only if it is a global issue which will save much future work.
Lessons Learned as Compiled by Jerry Madden , Associate Director of the Flight Projects Directorate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center: (Jerry collected these gems of wisdom over a number of years from various unidentifiable sources. They have been edited by Rod Stewart of Mobile Data Services in Huntsville, Alabama.). January 1, 1995. Updated July 9, 1996.