Today, I came back from a long week of being on the road. It's always tiring to be on the road, but also gives me a lot of inspiration, because I see new places and talk to inspiring people; get out of my little bubble.
During this week, I've had to balance out some of the work that has to be done for clients that we've on boarded in January, and at the same time, try to manage new relationships. In retrospect, it was an incredible week, so far.
I feel great about everything that's going on right now and how we're moving forward. But there's one thing that I've struggled with when I came back this morning and I thought I would share the experience.
Team work and collaboration
It can be struggle to work a small group of people, in which every single person has a different style of communication. You might have experienced something similar, right?
On this project, I work with a small group of marketing professionals—a performance marketing expert and several are marketing intelligent/customer data experts. Within the team, I take on the role of of client communication (c-level sparring) and marketing strategist.
With the time I have with a client I help them take the right decisions and shape the digital marketing organization. In order to do so well, I need a lot of input from the people around me. This input can be in the form of data, creative ideas, or observations that we have made from speaking to different people on the team.
I see a consultant as being more of a change maker and enabler. I feel that my role as a consultant is to facilitate the conversations and teach our clients to take the right decisions even without us. We are there to navigate them.
Some people love to work with me/us because they think that we have a proven track record—essentially, our reputation has preceded us. They believe we know exactly what to do based on past experiences that we've made with others.
But in my opinion, most of the clients who really love to work with us do so because they know that we share our insights on how we came to our opinion, every single day. Whether or not we were right to take a certain decision (spend more marketing dollars on a certain channel, or invest in a particular area of the business), is irrelevant. As long as it is clear why we thought—at the time—that this particular course of action was the right one, we have done a good job.
Systematic knowledge sharing, is key
I started to work in a working out loud setup a number of years ago, already. To be honest, I didn't know what working out loud meant at the time, but it came natural to me. I stumbled across the term “working out loud” back in 2012 and it really encapsulates all of the thoughts that I have on how to best share knowledge with others.
Sharing the journey of how you go to an end result.
One of the key values in working out loud is sharing whatever you have in that moment with everyone around you. There is no right and wrong in voicing your opinion based on the knowledge that you have up until a certain point. Sometimes you don't have all the information that you need just yet. But there's nothing wrong in sharing what you have at that point in time already early on in the process.
When I start to work on a project, I write down some of my key hypotheses, and any new information that I get from the stakeholders around me I write down as a separate little task. Whenever these topics come up, I try to document my thoughts on them as quickly as I can. Usually I write them down, but I also love to use an app—called otter AI—to create a voice note that transcribes my thoughts for me. Some days I like to make short—2 to 3 minute—videos of myself, in which I talk about these topics.
The documentation of these thoughts become the input for a longer form report or a document that I might want to share with the client.
Even if none of these thoughts make it into the final report, I share my thoughts on how I got to these end results with those around me, as well.
My personal preferred platform for this, is Notion. On notion we—at GANDT Ventures—have an open client page where we share our thoughts and ideas and the learnings that we've made.
This makes our thoughts/learnings very transparent to the client, and for everyone involved in the process to know, why we've come to a certain conclusion.
My challenge today
The big challenge I have today is that I came back after a long week of being on the road wanting to start working on a report that I have to finish by Monday. And I found out that my teammates had worked extremely hard on a very extensive Excel file but had forgotten to document the journey that they were on.
This now puts me in a bit of an awkward position, because I don't have the possibility of going through the same process that they've gone through. In essence, I don't know what to write about…
… Now, I know that there are different types of communicators. Each and every person on the team is different. A great communicator can be someone who is more of a verbal communicator or someone who likes to write things down. Some are great presenters, or entertainers who like to share videos or other types of content.
I know that not everyone is the same and I am glad we aren’t. But I try to encourage every person around me to find out what style of communication fits their personality, best.
I don't care if I get the inputs from someone in a video format or in a written format or as a voice note, as long as the information is somewhere that I can use to communicate the learnings to others again as well.
Fact of the matter is my personal skills are mostly verbal, and in the written format. So whatever the other type of content is that I get, I'll try to bring that into my preferred communication form. That suits my personal skills and strengths.
I know that forcing my type of communication skills onto others or trying to unnaturally teach them how to do things a certain way, just doesn’t work.
Hence, I would rather see have see someone shares insights with me in their best way possible in a matter in which they feel comfortable, than me forcing a certain way of communication onto them.
… Long story short. This week has been extremely successful and interesting. But I'm still in a little bit of a pickle right now, for the simple reason that I don't have enough to go on to finish my report.
How do deal with frustration
Now this can be frustrating at times, but it's something that I have to learn to deal with myself as well. It's about setting the right expectations, explaining how important it is to document the journey to others and to tell them what I basically expect from the people on the team and how I think we can work best together.
Everything that we do is part of a collaborative learning process. And working out loud is one form of doing so. And it doesn't always give us the most pretty end result. But it's definitely one way of making sure that nothing gets lost. And if someone does want to know why things are a certain way or why we've taken a certain decision we can show them. Tangible assets are what it's all about.
And no matter how funny or witty, communicative you are. If you don't have actual tangible results that you can show others you will struggle to build up trustworthy, long term relationship with them.
I thought I would share these thoughts with you because I know how important it is to me to work in a nice fashion with others and how important and difficult teamwork can be as well.
The moment you're not only dependent on your own end results and everything that you do is when you become aware of the fact that you're part of a greater whole and a group or a family and that is something beautiful that you should cherish and nurture.
Within a family, it's also fine to give each other feedback from time to time. Not to criticize each other's work, but to make sure that they understand or we all understand what we expect of one another that's why I wanted to share these thoughts with you as well.
And I hope they help you make some sense of your day and potentially also set the right expectations with your peers going forward. Enjoy your weekend and have a great day, while I go blow off some steam on my peloton bike, before I get back to working on my client report.