The 24 hour rule is a tried and true way to prevent workplace chaos and make wiser decision. Nowadays, everything happens at hyper-speed. Most people react to a situation without evening thinking about. This creates undue heartburn for all involved.
This is especially true for email, which can be blow up a sitatuation — even if you don’t think you did.
It’s Not Life And Death
Now, most issues/problems/good news/blow ups are not life threatening. They don’t need to be acted upon the minute they happen. If it’s life and death, feel free to freak out. For engineering issues, take a deep breath. So, before spinning your boss up over good or bad news, wait 24 hours. This allows the event to sink in. All issues are initially scary. Waiting a bit to deal with them makes them a little less scary.
Don’t Spin Up The Boss
A common mistake engineers (and managers) make is to spew the litany of problems they have, unfiltered, upon their boss. This tends to spin (as in ready for uncontrolled chaos) bosses up. Spinning your boss up over uncooked, raw data, problems or even good news will make life miserable. Bosses are looking for solutions to problems not a data dump of the latest misfire. There are legitimate times when you need to spin your boss up but those are rare.
A Lot Can Happen In 24 Hours
Waiting 24 hours allows you to test out assumptions and gather more data. Just the act of slowing down your thought process and understanding what has happened will allow you to better craft what to do about it. Take the time to do the first level analysis so that when your boss asks “What does this mean?” or “What are you doing about it?” you have an answer. Most bosses don’t have the time to do the analysis for you. That is why they pay you.
It’s Been 24 Hours, Now What
So you waited 24 hours, gathered additional data and the world is still screwed up. Now it’s time to act. This can be tricky. Problems tend to bring out the nastiness in people. A good way to go about stating your problem is to Tell The Whole Truth. If you do that, then it shows that you have the situtation under control.