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Herding cats

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Communication can make or break any project. And consistently maintaining good communication can feel like herding cats. Learn how the false consensus effect and various facets of communication can work for you and help keep people and projects moving in a positive direction.

A presentation given at the Federal Reserve’s 2015 Joint Web Developers Group Exchange (WEDGE) and Editors & Designers Conference on September 23, 2015, in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Herding cats

  1. 1. Herding Catsor tales from a never ending journey to better communication. @kylejohnston
  2. 2. What the customer wanted What the project analyst documented What the designer delivered What the developer produced
  3. 3. What the customer wanted What the project analyst documented What the designer delivered What the developer produced The false consensus effect
  4. 4. What the customer wanted What the project analyst documented What the designer delivered What the developer produced The false consensus effectWe all overestimate how much our own views and ideas 
 are shared by others.
  5. 5. Communication
  6. 6. Style Timing Assumptions Expectations Silos Clarity Communication
  7. 7. Assumptions “I thought you knew…”
  8. 8. Style “It was in my email”
  9. 9. Timing “This shouldn’t take long…”
  10. 10. Expectations “Where’s the rest of it?”
  11. 11. Silos “I thought your team was doing
 that…”
  12. 12. Clarity “I’ll know it when I see it”
  13. 13. A tale of woe
  14. 14. It started one September…
  15. 15. The Ask. Create a 60-second TV spot. Due: January 12. Stakeholders: Marketing – US & Europe.
  16. 16. What did we learn?
  17. 17. Post-mortems Discuss and document what did & didn’t work. Determine what you standardize and what you never, ever repeat.
  18. 18. A tale of hope.
  19. 19. It started one September…
  20. 20. The Ask. Provide front-end design and UI for 
 a website redesign. Timeline: 5 weeks. Stakeholder: Startup founder.
  21. 21. The Ask. Provide front-end design and UI for 
 a website redesign. Timeline: 5 weeks. Stakeholder: Startup founder.
  22. 22. What did we learn?
  23. 23. Good communication = Ensures all contributors have a clear understanding of goals and constraints. Success on a tight timeline.
  24. 24. Style Timing Assumptions Expectations Silos Clarity Communication
  25. 25. Assumptions Assume they may know something you don’t. Assume they don’t know something you do.
  26. 26. Style Designers vs Devs vs … All have different frames of reference, lingo, and understanding of roles. Remember the false consensus effect.
  27. 27. Timing What’s realistic? Clients seldom consider other projects, priorities, availability, etc. Remember the false consensus effect.
  28. 28. Expectations Get on the same page as early as possible.
  29. 29. Silos Don’t toss your work over the fence. Take the time to share your thought process and discuss 
 how you arrived at a particular solution.
  30. 30. Clarity Be detailed and specific. You will probably need to repeat yourself. Remember the false consensus effect.
  31. 31. 5 key takeaways.
  32. 32. 1. It’s not easy. A. B. C. Always. Be. Communicating.
  33. 33. 2. What you allow is what will continue. If you don’t (professionally) enforce your boundaries, 
 clients won’t respect them.
  34. 34. 3. Find the story. It’s easier to share the story of your project than expect everyone to read and understand email chains, project documentation, and other ephemera.
  35. 35. 4. Ask “why.” Don’t just make the change, understand the motivations behind a request.
  36. 36. 5. Clarity benefits from repetition. When you’re tired of saying something, it’s starting to sink in. Remember the false consensus effect.
  37. 37. Thank you. @kylejohnston

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