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Agility is integral during times of disruption. As leaders, we must learn to make faster, yet well-informed decisions so we can pivot to address the changing economic environment. We can arm ourselves with the data and evidence we need by training our teams to give us better information using the SITREP technique. This is part of our Lead for Tomorrow portfolio of PowerPlays™ to help you lead through uncertainty.

SITREP is short for situation report, and it first saw extensive use with the military during World War II. It is a form of status reporting that provides decision-makers and readers a quick, clear, concise understanding of the situation—focusing on meaning or context, in addition to the facts.

That same approach can improve the way we communicate in business and elevate our understanding across the organization. Most leaders will say that traditional status reports have become a stale, “check the box” exercise, versus a meaningful communication device.

Instead, all communication should be simple, direct, and purpose-driven. It should inform you, ask you to decide, or ask you to act. The SITREP does just that.

A SITREP includes:

  1. The situation to date (context, not background)
  2. Actions to date (relevant to current context)
  3. Actions to be completed (relevant to current context)
  4. Issues, risks, or needed decisions (inform/decide/act)

The report should be written with a multi-dimensional awareness. Always consider:

  1. Customer awareness – what the customer (internal or external) wants to know.
  2. Situational awareness – what your boss or organizational leadership wants to know. A helpful hint is to report for two levels above you.
  3. Internal awareness – what your team or department must know to work effectively.

Seven best practices for applying a SITREP in a project or business environment:

  1. Information in the SITREP should be factual and largely without interpretation and conjecture.
  2. The information in a SITREP should cover the period between the last SITREP and the next SITREP.
  3. SITREPs should be brief and not a narrative. Each SITREP gives the status of a project in a format that takes 2-3 minutes to communicate verbally, and 3-5 minutes to read if written. A report should be used for the provision of more detailed information.
  4. SITREPs should be specific for a given functional area, and not present information that is outside the specific functional area.
  5. It is acceptable for a SITREP to be issued that states: no change since the last SITREP (see the last SITREP for information).
  6. A map and other graphics can be part of a SITREP – ensure date/time of the graphic is shown on it, and there is a reference to the graphics and the SITREP.
  7. Each electronically produced SITREP should be saved as a new file, and all saved to the same folder.

You can dive further into the SITREP approach in the above video presentation by Bill Fournet. For descriptions and guidance to complete your SITREP form, consider these steps, provided by The Persimmon Group, and download your SITREP template.