Communication – Progressive Elaboration and Progressive Communication

Posted on January 28, 2011 by



You may not see the mountain top, but you can see the next step!

The essential concept of progressive elaboration is that organizations, teams, and people do not have to have all the pieces and parts fully known before beginning. Don’t get me wrong, having details is important, but not for everyone.

This approach fits very well with the change driven methodologies of Agile and Lean Software Development.  Communication needs to be done in concise and clear bursts. Understanding the big picture and the project outcomes are more important, the details can be elaborated as the project progresses.  Here are some ways to make sure your communication supports that effort:

  1. Make sure there’s a unifying theme for all the pieces and phases of your project — this allows your audience to stay connected and know how this month’s effort supports the previous one and the one from three months ago.
  2. Writing style and grammar should not fall off the progressive elaboration list — whatever is communicated, it should be well written and focused on the audience.
  3. Writing is an exercise in progressive elaboration in and of itself. Do you have an article to write, a website to update, a presentation to prepare? Start with an outline and then elaborate on the details as you progress through development.

Remember, if you wait for ALL the details you may never get started.