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Whiteboard Wednesday: Effective Communication Channels

Filed Under Whiteboard Wednesdays

Wow! I could have been a big hypocrite because I almost did this topic as a written post, but of course it should be a face to face whiteboard…

Be sure to check out Scott Ambler’s agile communication article as it was the basis for this whiteboard discussion.

So in summary, be sure to force conversations towards being more rich in nature and your time will be more maximized:

  • Face to Face – Whiteboard
  • Face to Face – Conversation
  • Telephone Conversation
  • Email Threads
  • Documentation / Wikis
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Comments

5 Responses to “Whiteboard Wednesday: Effective Communication Channels”

  1. Dew Drop - March 26, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew on March 26th, 2008 8:07 am

    […] Whiteboard Wednesday: Effective Communication Channels (Max Pool) […]

  2. Mike on March 30th, 2008 10:50 am

    I hate to break it to you, but I think you disproved your own point with this video. Effectiveness doesn’t come automatically with higher richness, but through choosing an appropriate level of communication that minimizes the overall time necessary to transmit an idea — both for yourself and your audience.

    Personally, I just sat down and watched a three and a half minute video of a guy explaining a line graph, where a GIF image and a short paragraph of text could have transmitted the same information in less than 30 seconds.

    However, I will concede that while richness does not automatically lead to more effective communication of a single idea, it does often result in useful information being transmitted that was not intended as part of the original message.

    And the incidental information that jumped out at me in this video was the mention of the 4 Hour Work Week. I actually really liked the book, and found it to be full of useful tips, but there is an overlooked danger to the premise: many of attempts to simplify your life can just pass off the complexity to others.

    The email autoreplies you mention are a great example. Making every person that send you an email message deal with an autoreply message in their inbox just creates more complexity overall, and sends people the message that you value your own time more than theirs.

    In short, I think if you are looking for creativity and brainstorming, moving to a more rich communication method will likely be rewarding, but if effective transmission of an idea is your goal, you should probably stick to a well crafted document. Let’s hope that you get around to reading this one.

  3. Max Pool on March 30th, 2008 11:10 am

    @Mike –

    LOL – although your perception is your own, perception is reality and it looks like you got me in a catch 22!

    You are completely correct in saying that the channel of communication should be chosen on the efficiency of both production and consumption; however, at the risk of sounding selfish I will allows vote to save my time over anyone else.

    In the day and age, where attention spans are limited (multitasking) forcing communication to a richer channel causes the other person to consume more of the message.

    I could have produced an image and a paragraph of text, but would have you actually consumed the information? My channel of a video post actually caused you to slow down and listen to my message…

  4. Mike on March 30th, 2008 6:07 pm

    @mpool

    You are perfectly within your right as a content producer to choose whatever method of production best suits your needs. If people think that you are wasting their time, it is simple for them to click on to the next unread item in their aggregator, with no harm done or feelings hurt.

    However the advice that you give in this video is not aimed at writers or video bloggers, but at people managing software development projects. These are people who are not only responsible for managing their own schedule, but also that of their development team, members of which don’t have the luxury of tuning out when their time is being wasted.

    Instead, when managers decide to use “richer” methods of communication to get their point across faster (from their perspective), all the savings usually evaporate when you consider the time spent by their team members being forced to sit around and listen to them.

    If I were to give advice to a manager it would probably be:

    “Sit down and read your email. Read it again if you didn’t understand it the first time. If a team member needs a response from you, spend a couple of minutes to make sure that you answer the question clearly. Face-to-face meetings should only be used for brainstorming, or to quickly make sure you are on the same page about things. Work to save time for your team, not for yourself.”

    Anyway, thanks for all your hard work on this site. Overall, I think you have done a great job helping developers to run their projects more effectively and efficiently.

    Keep it up!

  5. Mihai on September 28th, 2008 12:32 pm

    Thanks for the Whiteboards, I’m going through them one drop at a time ( well some I’m going multiple times since it’s somewhat hard for me to grasp these concepts ).

    You forgot YM!, MSN, or Skype as a means of communication. For example before we moved to the new offices my manager was at the 1st floor and we were at the 2nd, and although going up and down stairs is a lot of fun for the first couple of days, actually doing it gets old after a while :).
    I do agree face2face conversation and whiteboard is the best approach to showing someone what you are going for, and having everyone on the same note.

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