The Importance of Clear Communication

Gregor Thomson

Clear communication is an important part of design sprints and any collaboration between organisations. Communication needs to be clear and effective so that everyone involved has a clear understanding of the process and can get the most out of the sprint. 

Within software development, we run daily stand-ups. They are so named as each member of the team will stand during them. Why? Because this means that we talk directly and don’t waste time with superfluous communication. The discomfort of standing up encourages us to be direct and short with what we want to say.

Stand-ups give each person in the team the chance to talk about three aspects of their work: what did I do yesterday; what am I going to do today; is there anything blocking my progress.

During My Best Life, myself and the development team have been holding daily stand-ups to catch-up on the progress of the programme and identify areas where the developers facilitating the workshops might need support. Our catch-ups are direct and clear so that we always know what each other have been working on and where to be focusing our attention.

Another key part of the programme was the review sessions we had which involved NPC, FAC as well as LEAP, The Mix and UK Youth. These offered the chance to show the work which our developers had been doing to the other partners involved. These sessions were structured around a demonstration of the prototype and then a feedback session. We ran the first with an open Q&A during the second half and for the second session we structure the communication around asking everyone to express in the framework of: I like, I wish, what if?

Giving structure to communication is important when we’re working remote first. Losing out on body language, facial expressions means we have to be responsive to other cues. We can use the features included on Zoom to mediate conversations. By clicking on the participants tab and clicking Raise Hand we can manage conversations so everyone gets their fair turn to speak. Changing to Gallery View allows you to see everyone’s video and get a better sense of body language and facial expressions.

When speaking to others over Zoom we use people’s names to indicate that we’re asking them a question or giving them the opportunity to speak. This is something which would come naturally when we have a face-to-face conversation but is lost when we can’t make eye contact.

There’s a lot of different ways to structure and facilitate conversation online and these techniques have helped to ensure that we’ve been on the same page throughout My Best Life and are making the most of the collaboration between New Philanthropy Capital, Founders and Coders, The Mix, UK Youth and LEAP. 

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