The Great Resync

Let’s talk about communication.

When it’s good it has the power to enable teamwork, start a movement, change the world. When it’s bad? Feelings are hurt, friendships end, and companies go bankrupt.

And while we often wordsmith our message time and time again before we communicate with others, we give less thought to the communication methods we use.

In the early days communication occurred face to face. However, in an era where we have more communication methods available to us than ever before, it can be challenging to identify the best way to share your message.

So how do we choose whether to use face to face, telephone, Zoom, email, Twitter, Reddit message boards, or 4chan?

It may help to break down our options into two primary categories, synchronous vs asynchronous:

Synchronous communication looks a bit like this…

synchronous-communication

In the early days communication only occurred in real time. Whether via smoke signals, face to face, or morse code, one party had to actively receive and translate the message while the other transmitted it. This, my friends, is better known as synchronous communication.

And while synchronous communication may have been the only choice for our ancient ancestors, synchronous communication isn’t always the most effective choice for a number of reasons:

    • The interruption factor.  How frequently do you get home after work and realize you were slammed all day, but didn’t actually get anything done?
    • Synchronous communication often gives the same weighting to non-urgent items that it does to urgent items.
    • It can lead to a less accurate or impactful response than if you had an opportunity to process each question thoroughly and research the best answer.

Asynchronous communication refers to the exchange of data between two or more people without the need for all recipients to respond immediately.

In recent times asynchronous communication has enabled major, world-changing movements, and businesses are betting big on async’s potential.

Asynchronous communication is powerful precisely because it doesn’t require an immediate response. By creating more time to process and clarify information, you can make better decisions and leverage prior experience to come up with a better solution. In the past year, it’s become evident that remote teams need to establish asynchronous communication channels in order to perform at peak effectiveness across multiple time zones and operating disciplines.

As a bonus, asynchronous communication ensures you have a lasting record of the factors and inputs that led to a decision, allowing you to optimize additional decisions in the future.

While asynchronous has the potential to revolutionize the way you do business, there are some critical considerations that should be made.

    1. To avoid triggering a chain of follow-up questions, it’s important that you provide all the necessary details and information regarding the subject at hand.
    2. Set a deadline. This will help your team to prioritize their time and put projects on the back burner as needed in order to focus on the most important tasks.
    3. Provide helpful resources. Links to relevant articles, images, reports, and any other resources your team may need in order to respond should be included.
    4. Notify your teammates. They can’t work on something if they don’t know it’s there, right? Ideally, notifying your team won’t require you to do anything manually… you already have enough on your plate!

While email may be the first tool that comes to mind when thinking about asynchronous communication, it can be really difficult to develop asynchronous communication processes when your inbox is overflowing.

Many organizations have moved to shared drives and online documents in the past several years, which is a great place to start. However, the trick is to combine your communication tools with the data and information your team needs to make better decisions. Otherwise, it can be challenging to aggregate and share all relevant decision factors.

Now I could go on all day about this, but I need to add input on a couple high-priority projects my team notified me about over lunch.  Glad they didn’t have to interrupt me as I wrapped this up!

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