BLUF is what is commonly referred to in military circles as the BLUF Principle and what the word BLUF stands for is Bottom Line Up Front.
The BLUF Principle
A communication principle that is used heavily in the military. To make sure that any time that a key piece of information gets communicated in the right way.
You can imagine being in the military in a high-pressure situation where there can be a lot of communication mishaps and the consequences of getting communication wrong in the military are extremely high.
That is why the BLUF Principle is a concept that comes out of the military.
The BLUF principle is commonly used in business scenarios in the business analysis profession.
It originates in the military environment where communication is key and the consequences of getting communication wrong are extremely high.
What is BLUF?
BLUF stands for bottom line up front.
It means that any time you have an issue that needs to be communicated to senior management, you must make sure that you do not go down the road of telling them the story from beginning to end.
Now it might seem like common sense when you are just thinking about it and not applying it, but when you’re in high-pressure situations, you have to deal with a lot of different issues.
As you get higher up in the company, you’re responsible for an exponentially greater number of activities inside the company.
- Their time is severely constrained.
- They have several issues that they must deal with on a day-to-day basis.
- You might not have real visibility into what their calendars look like.
If you’re not very well-versed or well-practiced in communications then the whole concept of the bottom line up front (BLUF) can fly out the window. Right. Why?
At the moment when you need it, it is not going to be available for you unless you’ve practiced it over and over again and you’ve really set that concept in your mind.
So as soon as you step into a situation, you should know exactly how to frame a conversation.
How to BLUF?
Ensure management does not have any lack of clarity about what the issue is that needs to be made:
- Making sure that the bottom line is upfront and in a very summarized format that they can understand is the communication tool that you have at your disposal to make sure that you are being effective in front of them.
- You’re going to have to be able to communicate the same message that you would communicate to anybody else but do it using a lot fewer words.
- You must make sure that you can frame your questions in a way that they can easily understand.
- They shouldn’t have to ask many follow-up questions; some situations won’t be avoided, but they can avoid follow-up questions.
- You must make sure that the way that you present your information to senior management feeds right into their decision-making capabilities.
BLUF Communication in Management
When you’re new to working as an analyst, it’s easy to get caught off guard in meetings because you’re used to discussing things in too much detail. But senior management doesn’t have time for that.
They need bottom-line information fast. So, use the BLUF principle to get to the point quickly. This way, you won’t waste their valuable time, and you’ll make it easier for them to make big decisions.
Remember, senior managers cost the company more than others, so every minute of their time is precious. Be mindful of that and use active, clear language to communicate effectively.
BLUF is a communication tool that is going to help you do that.
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