Naga Chokkanathan

Standing In A Corner

Posted on: August 6, 2012

Mail 1:

Dear A,

Please work With B and sort this out,


Mail 2 (Reply to Mail 1):

Dear C,

B is on leave today,


Sounds familiar? I am sure you would have read 100s of mails like this. I call these mails as “Show Stoppers”.

This is a term used by software customers, to indicated that a problem in the code is bringing the entire deployment to a halt. No one can proceed without fixing this issue.

In case of a software, it is easy to identify Show Stopper problems, in Emails, it is very difficult. Many of us would read the above mail and will not realize what the problem is. It sounds perfectly normal, B is on leave, and A just points to the problem?

Exactly. This mail is simply a problem statement, and that’s where it stops, bringing the entire communication to a halt.

Such mails are the bottlenecks in any progress, It simply says “Something is not happening” and by stating this, the author washes his / her hand, Totally an irresponsible thing to do,

To extend this theory further, mails with statements such as “I didn’t work on this”, “I don’t know”, “X is absent”, “I didn’t get any reply from Y”, “I am waiting for Z to respond” etc., basically take you to a corner and leave you there, after that, there is no exit, no progress.

What else we could be doing?

Any problem statement is incomplete, if you don’t propose what changes you expect to solve it. Remember, we are not asking for a PERFECT solution, but some options… If you just know the problem exists, and can’t think of ANY solution at all, you can at least ask for some help? Like “Mr. X is absent, Can Mr. Y work on this? Or Mr. Z can suggest someone else to take this up? Can I just make some assumptions and complete this without anyone’s involvement?”

These statements open up discussions, instead of leaving you in a corner. We can discuss / debate / argue / fight and arrive at the best possible solution, sooner or later.

Second, If you are assigned a task and you are waiting for someone else to respond, whose problem it is?

Let us say X assigns a task to Y, and Y needs inputs from Z to finish it. Y sends a mail and there is no reply from Z, After 10 days, the task is not complete, Who needs to be blamed?

We can’t expect X to followup with Y every day to get the task done. Same rule applies for Y also, He / She can’t followup with Z every day to get the information. This means, no one does any job.

Here, there are no hard and fast rules, but when you think with common sense, X would expect Y to get the job done, the moment it is assigned. After that if repeated follow-ups happen, then it means X can never fully depend on Y, because, even after assigning some work, still more reminders are required to get it done,

So, eventho’ Z is the culprit in this case, X would never know it, would blame Y for the delay, and will not accept “I was waiting for Z’s reply” as a valid excuse. As the task for primarily assigned to Y, It makes sense for Him / Her to do repeated followups to get the information from Z, If Z is busy, either talk to his / her manager, or somebody else who can provide that information, X doesn’t care.

If Y can’t do all these, He / She should have refused the task from X in the first place, Accepting it and then putting blame on someone else is not acceptable, It may be a practical issue, but the fact remains that the task is not done by Y.

When we are working in teams, these are some basic disciplines expected from everyone, It is very easy to remain a passive team member and go with the flow, but then someone else will be deciding your future,


N. Chokkan …

06 08 2012



7 Responses to "Standing In A Corner"

Chokku In English Post why Tamil Name?

That’s a WordPress feature, I am not able to change the name 🙂

OK. Can you tell me how to post my views in WordPress?

You mean, starting a new blog?


It’s quite easy. Start a free account at and try few test posts, it’s very easy and straightforward , if you face any problem, let me know, you can mail to

Thank you chokku

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