Too much information on the plant floor

Recently, I purchased a high-mileage, well-used vehicle from a family friend, who, incidentally, isn't particularly mechanically inclined. Before she would sell it, though, she insisted that I have somebody give it a physical. She knew the vehicle needed some long-neglected maintenance and she wanted me to know what's in store after cash changes hands.

I contacted someone I trust, an out-of-work former brother-in-law who used to work for one of the local municipalities for more than 20 years as, among other things, an auto mechanic. He made a thorough inspection, approved, cash flow happened, and he took my brand-new old vehicle to a shop where he works part-time to perform appropriate maintenace.

After two days of the care and feeding of this beast, he called to provide a progress report. This job-hunting guy takes every opportunity to give a demonstration of his competence and enthusiasm, factors that could tip the balance during an interview. He derives pleasure from it, perhaps to prop up his spirits or sense of self-worth during this trying time in his career.

He started the phone call with a rapid-fire, detailed explanation of every single action he performed, every thought he had concerning the vehicle, the content of every call to suppliers to obtain obscure parts, etc., etc.

I cut him off after less than a minute of the shotgun approach. I told him that’s way too much information, things are, after all, what they are, I trust him, and we can discuss the repairs afterward while we share a nice bottle of wine and he gets paid for his efforts. That stopped the aural assault and I told him to look at it as an instance of deferred pleasure that builds character.

The experience made me wonder if that fire hose method of information transfer is a common occurrence on the plant floor. Is that what passes for communication at your place? Maybe it would be better if we all used the 140-character approach that one social networking service uses.

The point is that when a maintenance supervisor explains something to a maintenance technician or the tech explains something to a supervisor or peer, they should give the big picture first and fill in details as the listener requests further elucidation.