Choose the Best Communication Channel
Meeting vs Screencast
Here’s a an example for choosing the appropriate communication channel or medium for a given task (more on this can be found in the chapter “What Goes Where” in TightOps Fundamentals.
This example is from the context of a weekly business mastermind group.
The group gets together for a weekly call of 60 minutes – in that sense, a standard meeting. Because the members are spread across the globe, we attend the conference call online.
Feedback for a Website or Landing Page
Everybody is doing some kind of online business. Therefore it happens quite regularly that a member wants to share a website or landing page they are working on to get some feedback.
The common thing to do here is to share the URL with the group. Everybody can then visit the site in their browser and talk about it. (A screenshare would basically create the same situation, so it doesn’t change what we are concerned with here.)
Since I have experienced this a few times, I see three issues:
- Time is limited. Since the group prefers to take a couple of questions for each call, any single issue should not take up more than 15 to 20 minutes.
- Everyone has to listen. There are between 4 and 7 people on the call. While one person is talking, everybody else is listening (that’s just how a conference call works).
- Taking notes. As the person asking for feedback, you have to be very fast to be able to listen and take notes at the same time.
So I was wondering what would be a better solution to this. What would I recommend from a Tight Operations perspective?
Choosing the Appropriate Channel
As we emphasize in Fundamentals, we want to choose the most appropriate channel for the purpose and type of communication at hand.
Considering the context and the limitations of the situation 1 , my choice would be this:
- The person who is inquiring feedback sends an email to the group, specifying the URL and the aspects or parts that should be in the focus of the reviewer.
- Each member records a short screencast. I would limit this to 5 minutes.
- The person who asked for the feedback goes through the screencasts, takes notes, and possibly shares a summary with identified action steps with the group after.
Consequences of a Better Choice
With this approach and using a different, now asynchronous communication channel (instead of meeeting, it is now screencast), we achieve the following:
We cut the time spent in half. Assuming we have 5 people on the call (or in the meeting), instead of spending 100 minutes for the feedback (4 times 5 minutes of feedback, equals 20 minutes, times 5 people, is a total time spent of 100 minutes), we can cut that to a “time cost” of 50 minutes (4 times 5 minutes screencast = 20 minutes, adding 30 minutes to watch and take notes at the recipient’s end).
We make it last. The feedback recorded and provided via screencast will also be available at any time, it can be watched multiple times, rewinded and fast forwarded, etc.
There is an important difference here. I don’t assume that everybody on the call is keen to listen to each other’s feedback because this is just some unprepared, top-off-my-head thoughts. If the question at hand would be about a strategic business decision, it might well be in everyone’s interest to listen to what the group has to say and take part in a lively discussion. ↩