A few years almost every meeting I went to was face-to-face with only a few phones as rare exceptions. This year it feels like at least half my meetings are group Skype calls. Although the technology isn’t always perfect being able to work with someone who isn’t in the same place has meant we’ve been able to get more things done more quickly.
So whereas before we only had one method for working together, now we have two. I think we need more. We need more clearly defined methods of working together that make it easier to people to know what is expected of them
Workshops follow a step by step approach to achieve a clear output. They need to stick to the structure, e.g. Design Sprint, and not vere off track. They are all about action and production, if by the end of the workshop the group hasn’t actually produced something useable (not just useful) then the workshop was a waste of time. They might involve blank sheets of paper, wipeboards and post it notes.
Discussions are more informal and less structured. They are about collective information gathering. Everyone talks freely about the topic, sharing their experiences, knowledge and opinions. They require strong leadership and good listening skills from everyone, but they are great for uncovering stuff and getting it all in the same space. The output of a discussion should be shared understanding.
Interviews are likely to be one to one or two to one. They are about getting answers. They require that the person holding the interview comes prepared with questions that they want answers to. The person being interviewed brings their knowledge and tries to frame it as answers not discussion points. The output of an interview should be documented specific answers to questions.
So far, all of these are synchronous methods, that is they require everyone to be working at the same time but I think we need some asynchronous methods too that enable people to still work together when they can’t be together at the same time. We all work asynchronously most of the time, but this is about trying to formalise some methods for asynchronous collaboration.
Reviews require a number of people to read a document, consider it in light of their knowledge, assumptions and experience, and then feedback comments, questions and any concerns. Reviews are best conducted by people on their own at a time they can concentrate and not be distracted. The output from a review should be the collated feedback from however many people were involved into a single source.