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Your Story: Throwing new tools at a communication problem?

I'm working on a (likely non-43 Folders) piece about a topic that seems to keep coming up whenever I talk with people about how their team plans, collaborates, and generally communicates with one another. I'd love to hear from you in comments if you have a contribution to make.

What’s your story?

Do you have a story about a time when your team or company tried to solve a human communication problem by adding a new tool? In your estimation, how did things turn out?


Yours doesn't need to be a horror story to be included here -- there are certainly ample examples in which a thorny problem disappeared by introducing a bit of high (or low) technology to the mix.

But, the anecdotes I hear from worker bees often focus on the frustration they felt when a wiki, a new CMS, a mailing list, or some other tool was introduced into an ecosystem that was suffering from a more fundamental communication problem. A lot of people tell me that this makes matters much worse all around, often amplifying the complexity of the original problem, in addition to piling on burnt cycles that were committed on getting everyone up to speed on the new "silver bullet."

If you have a minute over the next week or so, please share your story here. Redact details that you think need redacting, but please consider telling me how things went for you and your group. And, if you feel like a whole or partial solution to the core problem ever did come along, that would be great to know, as well. Already documented this someplace else? Know of someone else who did? Links to relevant stories are also greatly appreciated.

If things pan out, I may be contacting a few of you offline for more details, and conceivably, an interview or two. Thanks in advance.

GeekyDaddy's picture

Re: Communiaction Problem - My Search for the killer app

Hi! Long time listener, first time caller. I started a pet sitting business (yes, you read correctly) two years ago, and I heart technology. So over the course of the past few years, these are some of the things I've attempted.

    Email - Duh. I use GoDaddy to host my site, so I used their email. Light dawned on marblehead when I finally made the switch to Google FYD. Now everyone has Gmail, with my logo on the top right. It also takes two seconds to give an @Gopherdogs.com email addy to a new sitter. (Thanks for Inbox Zero btw. It's saved my ass a bunch) Huzzah!

    Forums - I set up a forum for our sitters. I had everyone log in and make a post. That was a year ago. I think there are five posts in total. Epic Fail.

    BaseCamp - I really like(d) Basecamp. It was great for projects, and an easy FTP for designers and people who needed our designs. I rallied the troops and told them that this was it. That everything goes through here. It worked great until we ran out of organized projects. I need better org. skills to make good use out of it. Semi-Fail (my bad, not the tech)

    Wiki - I get the importance of these. I have one. I really want to launch it. It's been waiting for me (about 6 months now) to use it. I have aspirations to put our manual up, and have it be a living, breathing thing. I think this could be Huzzah!, it just needs some loving.

    Twitter - This could be very cool. I am in the last stages of getting all my Gopher Girls (my sitters) of getting an account. I pay them an extra $10/per month for unlimited text messages so I won't feel guilty getting them to Tweet. It's more for fun than anything else. I think this will bring everyone closer together and maybe avoid a traffic jam or two. Grade is a probable Huzzah!

My conclusion? Nothing beats the triple threat of IM/TXT, Email and Phone. Ok, so it's like 4. IM/TXT for the "Hey, how's it going"...but keep it short or a quick question. Email for the punch list or forward important info. And finally the phone, because it's great to hear a HUMAN every once in a while. The phone is great for longer problems as well.

It's not about the tech, it's how you use it, and can you sell everyone else on using it.

Also IChat/Skype to check in and "meet" with my operation in Boston.

That's my $.02.

P.S. Merlin, your Worst Website Ever panel at SXSW was my fav.




An Oblique Strategy:
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