— Blog —

How the Tools You Use Impact Your Success

Posted by Digital Marketing on Oct 6, 2016 5:16:05 PM

Contributed by Dana Corey

Technological advances increase productivity and create competitive advantage. But what if technology was forcing you to work in ways that made you less effective? Worse still, what if technology was causing your company to lose in the marketplace?

When it comes to the process of how we make decisions, hold meetings and design products, that might be exactly what is happening: limitations in technology force us to coax decision making (inherently a circuitous process) into an artificially linear one, and the fallout could be expensive.

We know that the workflow of decisions is not a naturally straight line

At most companies, the way we conduct projects follows a predictably similar pathway:

  1. Hold a loosely structured meeting in the conference room to discuss the goal. Remote employees participate on the phone or via video conference.

  2. Assign action items and devise a schedule.

  3. Send everyone away to accomplish their individual tasks, which they “turn in” by emailing to the group (or to the boss or the client) for review.

  4. Reviewers comment on documents and email them back to contributors for revision.

  5. Hold a milestone meeting to discuss progress or give feedback. Contributors show their work by projecting onto a white wall or sharing one screen of content at a time via video conference.

  6. Repeat steps three to five until the goal has been accomplished.

This process structure is not always the optimal way to create or iterate. In many cases — product design being a perfect example — it imposes an artificial linear structure on top of a process that is naturally more freeform.

Consider some of the flaws in this “straight-line” process:

  • Emailing documents back and forth can cause disconnects. Even when there’s a reasonable way to keep track of revisions, written feedback is easy to misunderstand, and the time gaps in between communications can stymie momentum.

  • One screen of information doesn’t always show the whole picture.

  • The best way to share information isn’t always in the form of a static document (slideshow, spreadsheet or Word file).

  • It can keep workers siloed, preventing the magic that can happen when people from various disciplines and viewpoints collaborate.

A more natural workflow probably goes something like this:

  1. Prepare: Invite appropriate team members from all locations to a kickoff meeting in a virtual conference room. Make it easy for everyone to see and interact with all of the content, no matter where participants are physically located or what devices they are using to connect.

  2. Coordinate: Create a repository for all project documents. Allow participants to include video and web pages, as well as traditional content. This repository becomes the central workspace for the project. Everyone can upload and review content asynchronously, flexibly accommodating varied schedules and time zones.

  3. Collaborate: In this stage, participants meet and work together to discuss, review content and/or create more content. Participants may be in the same or different locations. They may start in a big group in a large conference room, and then break into pairs in huddle rooms to continue the work. They annotate, use web pages, digital whiteboards and other applications and content.  Everything is saved to the virtual workspace.

  4. Present: Working together, team members assemble a dynamic presentation using rich content that helps them craft a compelling story. They present it to an audience (either reviewers, a client, a board of directors) that may be in the same room, or in a combination of locations. The “presentation” becomes a conversation, and allows all parties — not just the presenters — to view and interact with the content in real time. Participants can build consensus, spawn another project or make a decision. The original content (along with modified or annotated content, meeting notes and so on), remains in the project repository, so participants can continue to access it going forward.

  5. Review: Meeting participants conduct internal reviews, which may come right after the presentation, or at various times in the future. Examples are post-mortems and project milestones. 

It is important to note that we may skip steps or revisit them, as necessary. That’s why we need a platform that allows for maximum flexibility and the type of authentic human creativity that only comes from effective team collaboration. Crucial features include:

  • The ability to access, share, present and create content from any location on any device

  • A persistent content repository or digital briefcase (because a meeting or presentation is often a beginning, not an endpoint, to a project or initiative)

  • A system built around the knowledge that constant iteration is the cornerstone of innovation

Prysm Visual Workplace includes all of the above. It was purpose-built to help teams work together — to be creative and productive, accelerating decisions that move the needle forward — in all the ways that work for them. It’s perfect for product design, board meetings, marketing engineering … anything that requires collaboration. It allows you to prepare, coordinate, collaborate, present and review in any order and in any way that best suits you and your team.

Interested in learning more? Email me at dcorey@prysm.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Topics: Future of Work