One of my business stakeholders would fax me marked up versions of the designs. That was the feedback loop. I would update the prototype, we'd have a talk about it, she would print out pages from that prototype and mark them up with pen, then I would review that and ask relevant questions. Then this cycle would repeat. It worked out really, really well.
You worked asynchronously! We are reading a lot about it right now. People see asynchronous work as the future of work: you can loop communication over hours, through time zones. But, you did it like 20 years ago!
Yeah, it was cool then. It's cool now.
I actually haven't thought about that. We used the tools that were available to us and they worked and couldn't have been more efficient. Maybe because one of the things that she was forced to do was to really think about her feedback. She wasn't like reacting to it in a moment like on a Zoom call or WebEx. She was able to sit down and think about what she wanted to convey to me.
I don't know if that's necessarily a problem that I see a lot today, but I think there's something to be said for slowing down. There's something to being more thoughtful in collaborating, because too often conversations are really like going back and forth. It's very quick and very reactionary. But I think when you can slow down and get into this, you can get in the flow and think about what you want to contribute to the discourse. Great things can happen.
I totally agree with you. This is a really cool story about async work. But, talking about teammates you had. Were you on the same team all the time? What about communication between you and managers, team leaders? So how do you communicate with your team? How often do you have to do that?
I don't remember any positives or negatives about team interaction, we're talking about so many years ago. Interaction became more fluid when we got more collaboration tools. But a lot of collaboration was done on the phone. We didn't have daily stand ups per se, because Agile was not a thing. We didn't circle around Jira, because Jira wasn't a thing.
We had weekly check ins. So it wasn't very frequent. I loathed meetings. I think meetings get in the way of a lot of progress. I don't remember having a ton of meetings back then. I had a long career in my first job and I did manage people as well. I remember as a manager being very purposeful about not having meetings. When I did have meetings, I railed against having them become rote: I changed the format, kept things light, asked people about themselves and focused on not taking ourselves too seriously. I think the danger is in when you take the humanity out of the interaction.
What's your basic minimum, your tool kit for remote work? What do you use right now?
The tools are going to vary based on where you work and what they use. Right now I use WebEx. I use Skype for Business, which is essentially just instant messaging. But, WebEx does a lot of work for me.
We had a management void between a prior manager and my current manager, and I stepped up in the middle of that and started having a "cameras on" policy without saying it was a policy. I started sharing my video one day, and of course nobody else joined in. We have people from all over the world in our daily meeting. One day a colleague from Russia turned on his camera: I had never seen him before. It was magical, because I didn't force it. I didn't put out there like, "Hey, we must do this."Within a couple of weeks, most people were sharing their video. And now, it's something we do routinely. Most people have their cameras on for our daily meeting, and we're able to see who got their hair cut, who's smiling, who's not smiling. It's good stuff.
So those are two main tools we use. And maybe, I'll keep my fingers crossed, we'll get access to Slack.
Hope so! And what about maybe your personal tools? Something you use for self-management? Do you do that?
Professionally, we're using Jira. We communicate a lot on there. Again, consistently submitting data to the cloud is like a key enabler of async work. Without that everything is stuck in email, in private conversations. I have personal task lists in Wunderlist, and I use Apple notes to get things out of my head.