Power of BLUF

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BLUF – Summarize the point of an e-mail or coaching queue in one or two sentences at the beginning of the message so the reader/athlete can be empowered to make a quick decision and move forward.

Communicating over e-mail is a burden and necessity at the same time. Being chained to a seemingly never-ending inbox can easily overwhelm your productivity, and trying to discern which messages are truly important from those that are just FYI can waste valuable time. Enter the BLUF, or “Bottom Line Up Front”. This technique requires you to sum up the purpose of the e-mail in one to two sentences at the very beginning of the e-mail to quickly assist the reader on what action (if any) they need to take after reading the message. Included in the message should be summary of the information to follow, recommended actions, and associated timelines that must be acted upon. E-mail vagueness, aka a long e-mail where the reader isn’t sure why they are reading the e-mail, is eliminated using BLUF because you identify which action you are asking the recipient to make. While making informed decisions is always desired, often we must operate without the full perspective and make decisions based on what information we do have available to us. BLUF can assist in managing those expectations by clearly stating what is known and unknown, yet making an educated guess on which direction to move and why. Using BLUF also helps build trust between teammates and/or leadership, in that you can demonstrate your understanding and decision-making skills in a summarized fashion. Again, if we are all trying to use our time wisely, saving time for others is a way to pass on the optimization.

BLUF can be used when coaching CrossFit as well. Instead of trying to impress your athletes with over-complicated medical terms like “engage your posterior chain” when teaching to reach full extension during weightlifting movements, use simpler terms like “squeeze your butt”. Aside from the 5th grade giggles, you are removing the unnecessary words that may confuse your athletes and using the quickest method to get to the point. Also, remember that not all of your athletes may be familiar with terminology or jargon you use commonly, so keep the message simple so they can follow along. Having the follow-on conversation that discusses more technical information may be ok, but only after the athlete understands your BLUF first. Once they grasp the idea and can successfully demonstrate the desired movement, you have now created a verbal connection with your athlete that you can queue from across the room. As you assess the class as a whole, if you see your athlete making the same fault, you can yell “[Name], squeeze your butt!” and they will already have the corrective movement programmed into their head. You won’t have time to have a long conversation with them in the middle of the WOD, so use a BLUF statement to correct them and move on.

Now that you’re at the end of this post…did my BLUF help you?

And while Stone Cold Steve Austin is used as graphic on this post, I’m Team Rock all day. Since 97!

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