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    Entries in communication (32)


    And now a word from our family: Our Yuletide Yarn

    It’s Christmas time and the Christmas letters are well and truly here…

    Dear all

    Well can you believe another year <insert sentence about how time has flown by>

    We can’t believe we’re doing one of these group letters <insert guilty statement about how busy you've been and don’t have time to catch up anymore but want to share the news> 

    <Start year in review now>

    The year started off with a bang when we reaffirmed our marriage vows on the Spirit of Tasmania at midnight on the way over to visit Jeremy’s brother Donald in Launceston. Thank god we took a double dose of Quells because combined with the grog, we didn’t feel a thing!

    Jeremy is over his bout of ‘not-wanting-to-go-to-work’ and now it’s my turn to put my feet up for awhile this year. I might take up golf in earnest this time.

    Jemima is doing so well; she’s passed fourth grade and is such a social butterfly, bursting with creativity and energy. She’s a darling and Jeremy and I are taking it in turns at obedience school with her so she ‘get’s it’ with both of us when we’re out walking with her on the leash.

    As for Max, well he seems to just skulk around most days. He’s fit and well and not off his food, but I swear if he scratches at the new curtains in the guest room again I’ll scream.

    <Insert personal anecdotes here about travel, hobbies, gardening, trips to a local popular holiday destination, then another holiday destination a bit further away, caravanning, camping, sailing, fishing, trailbike riding, dressage… you know>

    <Close now with a big finish>

    We wish you all a great 2014 and hope that we will have the time to catch up this coming year.

    <Insert another guilty statement about not letting the year get away from you this time>

    Much love from your dear friends Deborah, Jeremy, Jemima (dog), Max (cat) xxxx

    PS: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


    We may love them or hate them, but we’re increasingly relying on them to know what the heck has been going on this past, fast year!

    It’s the generic and totally un-customised page (or four) of correspondence from dear friends.

    I’m already pondering again as I do most years about why we do this, to create our very own newsletter.

    Firstly, we can! Our computer, colour printer and digital camera all make publishing a breeze. There are Christmas and family blogs and websites all over the internet, so it’s a fun and creative exercise to come up with a natty title (The Young’s Yuletide Yarn, or Collins’ Christmas Communique) include photos of the year in review, press print and mail or email.

    The authors circulate these letters to those who are within the circle, and I suspect, a great number who are teetering on the edge of the circle; those people we haven’t seen as much as we would have liked. Perhaps it’s because of distance, geography, living in another country, or simply moving in a different circle these days.

    The ‘hope to catch you soon’ or ‘we must have you over for dinner’ statements come and go throughout the year. Each of our lives becoming increasingly complex and mathematically stretched as families grow up, separate, rejoin, conjoin or just hang out with different people.  Maybe we’re not in that inner circle of friends who get to share each other’s more regular developments during the year.

    Is there some feeling of loss that the close friendship that once was, is not the same anymore? Or the things we had in common have changed? The relationships change as we change.

    Reading about their year’s happenings keeps me in the loop another year longer. I now know names of children and grandchildren and I get to see photos of family milestones.

    Or is it catharsis? Yes, release that emotion and reflect on that year. The year flew by didn’t it? The years are going faster aren’t they? We might barely recall what happened among the chaos of life, but we know something did.

    The newsletter helps recall it, topic-by-topic, child-by-child, holiday-by-holiday, month-by-month, in one colourful publication with tiny colour digital photos. I can see myself in one of the photos! I was there to share in their year. Smile.

    There is always true newsy-news to share; international travel, postings to community organisations, illness and health, births, deaths, marriages, loves found and lost, and achievements relating to golf, bowls, netball, investment properties, wine, gardening.

    Is it a trend? Am I nearing the age when Christmas letters are de rigueur? Should I start this year?

    Last year I was the proud recipient of seven pieces of Christmas-circular coloured-paper correspondence. The most ever. I sat on the couch with a glass of red, and I read.

    I hereby publish my first draft. If you’re new to Christmas letters, you might like to copy, paste and edit. Then press ‘print’ or ‘send’.




    The ultimate in remote and distributed collaboration

    When I'm running facilitation training programs and I gather a bunch of 'concerns, questions, challenges' at the start of the day, many people raise the remote hookups and telconference topic.

    Whether it's a video hookup or audio only, there are plenty of tricky challenges:

    - how do you keep people engaged

    - how do you KNOW if they're engaged

    - how do you achieve what you need to do in the time available

    - how do .... <insert your challenge and question here!>

    I am an occasional listener (wierd as it may be but thanks to my father's careers and keen interest in all things mechanical) to the Air Traffic Control feed of my local airport in Melbourne. 

    Think about it - hundreds of people flying through the air at speed in the airspace above you, in big metal tubes, with a couple of people 'up front' in control of the metal tube. 

    On the ground, air traffic controllers observing, managing and directing traffic through and around the airspace. 

    I think this is the ultimate in remote and distributed collaboration and communication. 

    Heights, speed restrictions, approaches, departures, angles, gate allocations, weather advice, wheelchair requirements for passengers (yes, they arrange this in the air) and many other key pieces of information are communicated, resolved, discussed and arranged with some, but not full visuals. 

    Shorthand, codes and abbreviations are used as part of their operational jargon. It's efficient.

    Questions are asked by pilots - 'can we cancel our speed restrictions'? And they are answered by air traffic controllers.

    Controllers ask questions of pilots - 'can you use runway 27 or do you need 35'? 

    And problems are solved - 'our headset for arrivals transmission is not operational. Can you relay please?'

    If day in and out these critical pieces of information are able to be encoded, communicated and decoded in what can be perilous environments, a phone or video hookup with the team in another city shouldn't be so hard!

    • You must allow more time than you think you'll need for the topic.
    • Allow for time to introduce, engage, map out the agenda, take questions.
    • Allow time for problem solving, information sharing and collaborating.
    • Allow time for general discussions and 'wonderings' by participants too. 

    In your haste to get 'stuff done', you might be communicating some messages you had no intention of conveying! The consequences could be far reaching and the rework may be costly and time consuming. Check understanding - check again for questions. 

    Play air traffic controller at your next remote meeting and focus on clear communication and great collaboration. 

    And now... tuning in to the feed, the massive A380 is coming in to Melbourne from LA. QF94. Now that's a BIG project to get on the ground safely!

    A view from the tail camera on board the A380, coming in to land in Melbourne from LA. 



    Cross the silo

    "Breaking down silos" : I reckon this action or need comes up in almost every organisational workshop I facilitate.

    Teams and leaders want to break down the information barriers that exist across organisations and get some 'cross-functional love' happening! You know, communication, engagement, co-operation, collaboration. 

    I like to simply start with communication. Let's communicate. 

    Go find out what they're up to, who they are, how they do it. 

    Do that before you start pushing your side of the world and what you want. 

    Dr Stephen Covey said 'seek first to understand'; that's habit number five of his seven habits. He says once you understand, you can be understood.

    I think you can be soooo much more persuasive and influential when you understand the other silo. You'll then know how to position or frame what you need to work or collaborate on.

    It's foolish to leap out and try to cross the chasm over to another silo with your arguments and defences and workplace waffle jammed in a folder under your armpit. 

    Go over there first. Cross the silo. Find out what's happening - with no agenda of your own but to find out. 

    Then come back.

    Cross the silo again. Take some more of your silo folks over this time. 

    There is no leaping required. 

    You can walk. 

    Look! It's amazing! There is a walkway that connects silos. You just need to to walk over and start communicating. That's how you cross the silo.  




    'Well that's nice but I don't draw'

    If you've checked out any of the sort of work I do you'll see I help people communicate and engage with each other - better than they're doing now. 

    Visual thinking is part of it. 

    There's a lot of 'I don't draw' out there when I arrive in a workplace to run a half or full day session on visual thinking. 

    Actually folks, it's not about the drawing. It's about the THINKING. 

    Say it like this : 'I don't think'. 

    Well... you do. 

    If you don't think that visuals can play a part in how you engage or think or sell your message and thinking to someone else, you can read some more here and here.

    When you use visual skills, you'll really 'get it' because the people you're communicating with 'get it'. The process of engaging with them will be so much sweeter - even if you're having a rip roaring disagreement with them!

    And I think it's so selfish to say 'I don't draw' - as if it's all about you! When you're working to communicate with someone it's actually all about them! So it's time to move on folks....

    Untangle Thinking

    Get Things Straight

    Make Something of It 



    A little more conversation - a lot more action  

    A logistics client of mine is having their senior leaders forum next week - they do this around every 90 days. I facilitate the gathering of 80 leaders to ensure they can all participate, that we stay on track and that there are some serious outcomes after some wonderful collaboration.

    So when you have a team gathering scheduled on the calendar and you're busy finding a meeting room, remember this above all other arrangements :

    Ask    ________________________________    Tell


    You see, it can't be all talk. That isn't a forum. That wouldn't be a team thing.  That would be a presentation.

    Any time you bring people together, stop with all the talking and telling will you!

    Wander along to the other end of the continuum and be sure to engage, question, ask and have a co-nversation.

    Co = together. Bring people together so they can collaborate, communicate, co-create and co-design the changes and activities that will achieve your business or project strategy.
    It's quicker and will get you more buy-in than you simply telling them. Seriously it will.

    There are still a lot of 'all talk' bad habits out there. It can be a whole new way of looking at things and that can seem challenging at times.

    • How do we get their input and ideas? 
    • How do we wind people up once they start?
    • What if it gets out of hand?
    • How will we wrap up the day?
    • What if....what if... what if...

    I think every gathering, workshop or strategy session needs The 9 Elements of Collaboration. I make sure they are brought to the teams and clients I work with, every time they get the team together.

    Let me know about your next gathering of the team - what do you want to have happen?  Let's work on designing an agenda, an event and processes that are engaging, creative and collaborative and most of all... designed to make things happen.

    Otherwise you're all talk!