Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All Purpose Progress Report

Flipping the coin on Marilyn's scary things, here is one from my former life on the other side of the question: a funny thing from my past..

During my years as a corporate training consultant, I often taught technical writing to researchers and engineers.  In those days--perhaps still--my students were required to write monthly progress reports for their bosses.  Most of my students  dreaded writing anything, but especially those period reviews of what they had accomplished.  Just to lighten their mood, if not their burden, I wrote an all-pupose report  that they could hand in on any month, on any project, whether they were biochemists, metallurgists, or structural engineers.  The composition I gave them was full of all the writing mistakes their bosses were used to encountering: passive voice, vagueness, unnecessary words, run-on sentences, and dangling participles.

Here it is.  I hope it gives you a laugh.  Or something to hand to your boss.  It is the end of the month after all.

For the Month of ___________

To: _________________________


During the interim period, considerable  progress has been made in the preliminary work directed toward the establishment of initial activities.  The background information has been surveyed and the functional structure of the component parts has been clarified.

Considerale difficulty has been encountered in the selection of optimum materials and experimental methods, but this problem is being attacked vigorously, and we expect that the development phase will proceed at a satisfactory rate.  In order to prevent unnecessary duplication of previous efforts in the same field, it was necessary to establish a survey team which has conducted an extensive tour through various facilities in the immediate vicinity.

The committee held its regular meeting and considered important policy matters pertaining to the overall organization levels and staff responsibilities that develop on the personnel associated with specific assignments resulting from the broad functional specifications.  It is believed that the rate of progress will continue to accelerate.

Annamaria Alfieri


  1. Love it. If I had a boss I'd hand it to him. Her.

  2. I used to teach Report Writing to detectives at the NYC Police Academy, as you know. The bosses gave me as little as one hour, with a hundred or more in the audience. I never learned if any of it took: if they were still "exiting (their) vehicles" or "proceeding to...(arrest a perp? beat someone up? or, just "go to meal")... Scratch that! An investigator once approached me in a fish house in Montauk, LI, to say, with obvious surprise, that he still used a cluster technique I showed him for organizing facts for a report: jotting down bits randomly as they came to mind, then circling the connected bits till the structure came clear...Enough vindication!