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Liam has been a remote work advocate for a long time, as a successful serial entrepreneur and innovator in this space. We dig into how being remote and asynchronous freed […]
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Luke Szyrmer April 26, 2022 413
Jim Kalbach on designing remote collaboration Luke Szyrmer
Jim Kalbach is a noted author, speaker, and instructor in user experience design, information architecture, and strategy. He is currently Head of Customer Experience at MURAL, the leading online whiteboard. Jim has worked with large companies, such as eBay, Audi, SONY, Elsevier Science, Lexis Nexis, and Citrix.
Jim is also the author of three books: Designing Web Navigation (O’Reilly, 2007), Mapping Experiences (O’Reilly, 2016), and most recently The Jobs To Be Done Playbook (Rosenfeld, 2020). He is also the Co-founder and Principal at the JTBD Toolkit, an online resource with learning, trainings, and content. Jim blogs at experiencinginformation.com and tweets under @jimkalbach.
[00:00:02] the combination of visualization and guided methods and structure to your meetings, it gets rid of zoom fatigue. When I first heard that term, I was like, what? What’s that? Because I didn’t experience it myself. And the other thing that I thought was what you need to be a little bit more intentional about how you’re getting through your day of.
[00:00:20] Yeah. And so that’s my biggest piece of advice is to structure and design. Essentially collaboration design, right? Design your collaborations.
[00:01:01] Welcome, welcome. Welcome to the managing road teams podcast. We are here with Jim Callbox today. Jim wrote two wonderful books, the jobs to be done playbook and experience mapping. Jim is also chief evangelists for mural. And Jim knows the in and out of whiteboards, which I think are an absolutely critical tool for. Remote work or possibly even hybrid work. But I guess we’ll get into that in a bit.
[00:01:29] So Jim, could you say a few words about what it is that kind of got you. Into white boarding. And how you lend to at mural in the first place, your varied product background?
[00:01:43] Sure. So I spent a lot of my career in design and innovation teams, a couple of different companies, both internally in large organizations, but also externally as a consultant looking at things like human centered design and design thinking and innovation broad.
[00:02:03] And in 2015, I got contacted by Mariano’s Suarez, Bhutan, the CEO of mural. They were very small company back then. And I joined the team because I had been steeped in design and design thinking, which is an important target for me. Very creative types and creative type of work, which I was very familiar with.
[00:02:26] But in my previous role, I worked for Citrix, the makers of go to meeting and go to webinars. So I was in the remote collaboration space as well too. And I always felt that one of the biggest challenges of remote collaboration was creative work. How do you get a team of designers or, an innovation brainstorming session?
[00:02:47] How do you do that with. Folks. So when I came to mural, it was really a combination of those two interests, my interest in remote collaboration in general, but also in creative work and design thinking type work.
[00:03:02] So why are whiteboards so helpful in. And remote collaboration and remote work.
[00:03:08] Yeah. I have this concept of what I call the digitally defined workplace. Which if you think about it in terms of jobs to be done that a team collaborating. Four or five core jobs that they need to get done. They need to communicate in real time. They need to communicate asynchronously.
[00:03:28] They need to have a shared space where they gather documents and things like that. And if you walk around any office building, you’ll also see evidence of a need for the job of collaborating. And a lot of people say I’m not a creative or I’m not a designer. I don’t collaborate visually. And I’ve had people tell me that.
[00:03:48] And then I will go over to their workplace and it’s full of sticky notes and there’s a whiteboard behind them. And there’s flip charts all over the place. All of that type of work is visual work, it’s not happening in an Excel sheet. And what happens is that tends to happen outside of the computer actually.
[00:04:04] Particularly before the pandemic and when we took the office away from folks during the pandemic, for instance, there was this need, right? So I think from when I think about white boarding it’s actually a need that you have when you collaborate to express yourself in a visual way to draw a square and a circle and connect them with a line and say, we need to get from point a to point B as a team.
[00:04:27] There’s an aligning effect that, that has right by expressing yourself visually you’re able to elevate the conversation and express yourself in a different way. Then you can, if you’re just talking or if you’re just typing.
[00:04:39] Visual collaboration is complimentary to other modes of collaboration that we had that we already had, whether we knew it or not. We already had it with sticky notes and flip charts and whiteboards in our office. And the digital version of that gets that job done for us.
[00:04:53] When we’re collaborating in a team, we need a way to express ourselves visually, even if you’re in finance or HR. Again, this isn’t just for creatives. This is work in general. Has this need to to be expressed and represented visually.
[00:05:06] How are you defining collaboration here? Exactly.
[00:05:09] Yeah, that that’s a great question. And we’re working on a more precise definition, but it’s when two or more people come together and they have a specific challenge or problem that they’re trying to solve with a common mission, that there’s a common purpose for this group of people to collaborate.
[00:05:27] Typically, when we talk about collaboration here at mural, we’re thinking about workplace collaboration. But we also serve educational institutions. So there might be a student project team, government organizations. And I think that definition still holds true group of people coming together, bending for a common cause.
[00:05:45] And trying to problem solve for a common cause that could be very temporary. It could be a single session and a group of people come together dynamically. It could be a permanent team of people that come together. it can be ongoing collaboration, between people and teams as well, too.
[00:06:01] So I think about all of that as collaboration, essentially individuals, human being. People coming together and trying to solve a problem together. And they do that through interactions. There are certain interactions that that they have. And again, just going back to my previous response, there’s a certain type of visual interaction that collaborating teams have always needed.
[00:06:23] That the idea of a virtual whiteboard, isn’t just, oh, it’s another tool that does the same thing as my other tools. It actually does something fundamentally different for that collaborative.
[00:06:33] So fundamentally different because it’s digital or
[00:06:37] because there’s visual because it’s visual that I can, right now we have audio and video here, you and I can also type in the chat if we were also expressing parts of our conversation, visual.
[00:06:49] It will take the conversation to a different place and to a different level in terms of understanding, we can actually model what we’re talking about and we can see it. I can see what you’re thinking and you can see what I’m thinking in terms of shapes and sticky notes and arrows and all kinds of things.
[00:07:04] But it also allows for a different level of participation as well, too, because when you’re talking or typing, it tends to be the tr the traffic is regulated one by one only one person can talk at a time when you’re thinking visually, actually multiple people can be expressing themselves at the same time.
[00:07:21] So it actually gets it gets more inclusion and you potentially get a more diverse type of perspective that can be represented as well, too. So it’s all of that. When I talk about visual collaboration, it’s all of that.
[00:07:33] In the post pandemic, modern world, if we’re not talking about doing that digitally, and if we’re not talking about doing that in the cloud, where it’s we can’t go back to is taking pictures of whiteboards and transcribing and sticky notes. We’re going back to the office, but we can’t go back to that. We have to pretend like we’re in the 21st century work is now digital, including the visual. It would be, imagine a memo coming around your office.
[00:07:57] Remember we used to do memos and used to have a name and you check it off. Like I saw this memo. And then the memo to imagine. Yeah, it sounds funny now, but that’s essentially what did very visual collaboration was before the pandemic was essentially like communicating like a memo. We send an email, we send a slack.
[00:08:14] Why isn’t our visual collaboration, digital, Nan. I think that’s the wake-up call that people got during the pandemic. And this category of whiteboard is now more and more commonplace. I can’t tell you how many times Luke I’ll pull up mural and people will be like, oh yeah, we’ve used this before.
[00:08:29] I didn’t get that before the pandemic before, what is this thing? So I think we’ve gotten sensitized to this metaphor of a virtual digital. But for me it still goes back to that fundamental job that it gets done when we’re talking and having a conversation, particularly if it’s a complex problem solving that problem visually.
[00:08:48] It literally offloads cognitive space. So we can think better together. We literally think better together when we’re collaborating visually. And it’s really that that I’m most interested in the technology. Yeah. Technology is important, but it’s really the effect and the impact that visual collaboration can have on a team.
[00:09:07] Yeah. Yeah. I think in my experience, it’s. Everything that you mentioned, but it’s also visual interplaying with the conversation and back. So it’s, it feeds on each other. Yeah, exactly. You build meaning in a different way. Like you can have a really interesting conversation with somebody and get to a new point.
[00:09:24] I’m not saying that’s not that I can even have really meaningful slack conversations. But very often there’s a type of conversation and problem solving when you really have to get together and get along. And you have to be able to include a lot of voices. So diversity of perspective, and the problem is complex, right?
[00:09:43] It’s those types of conversations and interactions that, that, where visual collaboration. It’s not just, it’s not just another way to think. It’s a different way to think as a group of people, it actually elevates your collaboration in a new.
[00:09:59] It’s interesting. You also mentioned schools and education working in a software context that quite often the problem with software team faces is that they have a complex problem. And if they’re all remote, then a whiteboard is actually a great way to do that because it’s it’s like learning is the biggest bottleneck in this type of work.
[00:10:19] Yeah. What are your thoughts on the application of in the context of problem solving specifically Mike and whiteboards. What are things that, that you’ve seen people do that, that work well with with whiteboards?
[00:10:32] One of the, one of the effects, one of the phenomena that we see, we call it a blank canvas paralysis.
[00:10:40] That if you just pull up a blank canvas and you have a group of people with a complex problem that they’re trying to solve and say, okay, go there’s this lack of knowing where to start, particularly if there’s a group of people who’s going to go first, what are we doing? But I think there’s a fairly simple and prevalent solution to that, which is to use what we call guided math.
[00:11:03] So from design thinking, for instance, there’s a whole class of methods out there where you can actually break down the challenge that you have into smaller chunks. And instead of just improvising the collaboration. So a lot of people think about whiteboard as being white blank. That is, and then you fill it in with scribbles, but you can actually pre structure the conversation.
[00:11:26] Using the tool like mural with guided methods so that I can get a group of people and have the playbook, so to speak the rules of engagement. We’re not just improvising the conversation on a blank whiteboard, and then it’s it just grows organically or not. You can actually say, let’s do an exercise like rose gardens.
[00:11:43] Rose thorn. Bud is a great exercise to analyze a problem from different angles. The roses are the positive things that Thrones that a negative things in the buds are there potential things. If everybody just takes two minutes and puts rose storm buds, and then you cluster. So it’s okay. Heads down for two minutes then cluster.
[00:12:00] Okay. Now let’s prioritize the clusters and you can vote on those. Okay. Now let’s put those on a two by two matrix to see what we’re going to do next quarter. You can actually get from point a to point B. Let’s say you’re planning a sprint or you’re planning the roadmap for next quarter. You can get from point a to point B, not by staring at a blank canvas together and scratching your head, but actually structuring the conversation and structuring it.
[00:12:25] So I can give you the instructions and you can print them out on a PDF, but I can also just show you, Hey, we’re going to do rose thorn, bud clustering, prioritization matrix, and then go into the roadmapping so that your collaboration is not improvised. You actually have a score.
[00:12:39] I’m a musician, right? So I think. Sheet music, I can have the sheet music, so we’re all reading from the same score, that’s something that, that we think is funding will fundamentally change collaboration is if it’s a lot more deliberate and a lot more.
[00:12:56] Yeah, I can definitely see how for somebody new to it, that would make it a lot easier. It’s an interesting interesting problem. Similar to when you’re writing and you have a blank page.
[00:13:06] Yes, exactly. And I like to think when I structure a meeting or workshop, I do it spatially. So I started in the upper left of a canvas.
[00:13:14] I like to go right and left. Some people like to go top and bottom, but I’ll put a big number one. We’re going to do this together right now. I have instructions there and then I put a line and then you move over and then I do number two. So my, my meeting agenda is represented visually. We’re going to go from left to, it also lets everybody know that I’m working with what we’re going to do. They can see the beginning and the end before we even get started and I just moved the team across. So it’s almost as if the visualization and the canvas is facili facilitating my meeting for me, I’ll even put breaks in there oh, we’re going to take a break at this point.
[00:13:47] We’re going to do this for an hour. Take a break, come back through this. So the meeting agenda is spatially represented on the canvas as well too. And then we fill that. Through the guided methods, we fill that in with stuffs that, and that gets us to, to our answer at the end. Again, it’s being about being deliberate about collaboration and about designing that collaboration experience.
[00:14:07] And I think the canvas adds a whole new dimension for that.
[00:14:10] You briefly mentioned in passing the effect on alignment that working this way has, why do you think that is?
[00:14:18] I think because there is a when you’re thinking about, let’s just say a digital whiteboard, it allows people to express what they’re thinking in a different way or even.
[00:14:29] Cause sometimes, you might go into, let’s just say a sprint planning meeting and there’s a set of requirements and somebody will read them off or discuss them. And then there’s a group of people sitting around, what’s in their mind, what are they thinking? Do they understand those in exactly the same way?
[00:14:44] If we could get them to express what they’re thinking as well too. So this idea of participation is really important. You can then see if you’re all aligned or not. Literally see it. Do we all have the same. Of what we’re headed towards.
[00:14:58] Jeff Patton, he wrote a book called user story mapping. He has a great great little cartoon in. Where there’s three people. And at the beginning they have like thought bubbles and one has an orange, a triangle, and the other’s thinking of a square and the other thinking of a circle. And I’ve been on a lot of projects where everybody nods and says, yeah, we’re all together. But then if you looked in their minds, they actually have three different opinions or mental models of the thing that they’re trying to solve for. And then the next frame of his cartoon is they put it out on a black. They actually put their circle and they said, oh, we’re not aligned.
[00:15:31] So this idea of expressing yourself visually helps you then negotiate your different mental models so that you can get closer to a harmonized view of the world.
[00:15:43] One of the things that are really Useful in terms of alignment across departments, is this whole idea of customer experience mapping? You’ve written about it., quite a lot of depth and nuance if somebody was thinking about doing kind of a customer experience map for the first time, how would you suggest doing that kind of thing to help align with.
[00:16:04] Sure. And I think, for me, just get, just to relate that back to your previous question to a customer journey map for me is essentially a collaboration tool. It’s a way for some people to go out and observe the customer experience, right? Cause not everybody in an organization has contact with customers.
[00:16:22] But the people creating the map maker would have the luxury of being able to. Talk to people and investigate data around the customer experience. And they could take that data and write a 50 page report on it and say, here’s all the things that we found and send around a 50 page report.
[00:16:39] But we know what happens with 50 page reports when they get sent around, people don’t read them or they don’t connect. What’s on page three with what’s on page 17.
[00:16:48] Alternatively I could take that information, that insight that I gathered and represented visually in a single.
[00:16:54] And that’s what a customer journey map is. It’s a compression of observations that you’ve made about the outside world human experiences in some way. And I compress it into something that gives an overview. And by visualizing that overview, I get this massive compression of information. 50 pages of, written texts would be a single overview where I can actually see cause and effect in the same overview.
[00:17:19] So I can say, oh here at this step, if we mess this up, that’s going to cause this effect downstream. And it’s also something that’s compelling and engaging. So the idea of creating a journey map is creating these compelling, engaging artifacts that represent a lot of information.
[00:17:36] And the key point there is an alignment from the inside to the outside. We want our perspective as an organization to align to the. Perspective. That’s essentially what being customer centric is. But then that diagram, that artifact becomes a collaboration tool inside and I call that insight.
[00:17:54] Alignment. So there’s two types of alignment you’re looking for. I want to get the outside in perspective, but then I got to get the teams that are trying to deliver that experience that you want aligned as well too. And the visualization helps with that as well too, because the marketing team can see itself in a journey map.
[00:18:11] The product team can see itself in the journey map. Everybody in the organization can see how they fit into the bigger picture in a single overview. And it becomes a collaboration tool at that point. Let’s discuss, what are we going to prioritize next quarter? I’m just using that as an example, and you can have a conversation.
[00:18:28] So for me, the visualization of a map, a journey map is really it’s to create an artifact that you can have a conversation around and you can use it as a diagnostic tool with a team to collaborate and come up with the solutions and the answers to the problems that you find together. So knowing that I think has impacted.
[00:18:46] You’re trying to do two things, align the outside world to the inside. And you’re also trying to foster a conversation as well, too. So the map maker, before you get started, you have to keep that in mind. And there’s lots of different techniques that you can use. And methods out there.
[00:19:00] There’s customer journey maps and service blueprints and mental model diagrams. And that’s what I talk about in my book that you mentioned all these different types of maps, but they’re essentially trying to do the same thing, which is trying to do these two different types of alignment.
[00:19:12] And the simplest place to start is with the chronology. Typically we think of an experiences things that happen to individuals over time. So it’s a chronology and then there are different layers of information and the chronology is usually represented as columns and the layers of information are usually represented as rows.
[00:19:32] And I start journey mapping with actions, thoughts. And what are the actions, thoughts, and feelings of the people that I’m studying over time. So if you have a timeline and then put actions, thoughts, and feelings, that’s a great place to get started, I think.
[00:19:45] Just to make it a little more concrete? Yeah. How would you describe a company that’s aligned with the customer, but not aligned horizontally as you were saying? What does it, what does that look like? Yeah that’s actually common. I think, cause particularly in the past five and 10 years, I think.
[00:20:00] Data about the customer experience is not lacking in organizations. We have everything from surveys and NPS and live usage, data of digital products research teams that go out and do qualitative research. Usability testing is common. We don’t necessarily lack information about our customers and what they’re experiencing, but is it actionable?
[00:20:23] And I think that’s really the purpose of journey mapping as a verb. It’s not about the map, but it’s not about the now. And it’s about the mapping. There’s a process of creating the map and there’s a process of having a conversation around the map. It’s really trying to make sense of the data that you’re getting about the experiences that you create, right? So they does not add, we’re not lacking data. What we’re lacking is a way to actually interpret that data and to make sense of it. And again, that’s a collaborative exercise. So a journey map helps you do both of those things make sense of it because what you can do is overlay activities.
[00:20:57] I was talking about guided methods, right? I think my next book on journey mapping is going to be a series. Guided methods. Once you create the map what are you going to do with it? There’s all kinds of prioritization techniques. What’s the most important point for us. What’s the most important point for the customer?
[00:21:13] Do those align? Where’s the biggest pain point where you, our competitors Excel and we don’t, and you can use that model of the world, the map itself as a springboard into analysis, and conversation. On top.
[00:21:26] You mentioned the outside in view and I guess you’re referring to the jobs to be done angle. Mental models and job maps, I think we’re closest to the customer. How are these tools and approaches useful for let’s say strategy for.
[00:21:43] From a jobs to be done perspective, there’s an artifact called. Which is really not looking at it. Doesn’t look at your relationship with a customer as a paying customer. It’s looking at what they’re trying to get done independent of your solution. So it’s similar to a customer journey map. A job map is similar to a customer journey map, but it has a different perspective because it’s not about your solution.
[00:22:07] In fact, in jobs to be done, we go a great line. To expunge, any reference to technology solutions or methods in the language, and we’re not looking at how do people become aware of my solution? How do people decide to buy my solution? Why do they stay loyal to. Those are the three points of a customer journey map, by the way.
[00:22:26] We’re really looking at what are they trying to get done independent of my product or my solution. And that gives you an independent view of the job to be done. When you’re talking about jobs to be done, you your unit of analysis is the job.
[00:22:39] And a job map represents that individual. So you can actually then say, okay, where is the biggest point of intervention? If I understand what the individual, the people that we’re trying to solve, if I’m understanding what they’re trying to get done independent of my solution, just what their objective is.
[00:22:56] What we can then do is say, where are the biggest levers? Are there points of intervention where strategically we would make the most difference or strategically where the market and competitors haven’t So you can actually find new playing ground at a strategic level from something like a job map.
[00:23:13] And guess what a job map is also visual, and it has that same effect. It’s something you can put up and use as a conversation piece and do another layer of conversation and analysis through guided methods and visualization to come to, an agreement within your team.
[00:23:30] Just to , jump topics again, digging further into the question around collaboration what are the most. Common are the most important jobs around working together remotely in general? How do you think about that?
[00:23:45] I think about it in, in two layers actually. And this is a model that I’m hopefully going to be writing about a little bit more in the near future.
[00:23:55] when a group of people come together, I think there are two fundamental jobs. That they have in front of them at the highest level is they come together and this is why they come together is to solve a problem or a challenge. There are methods and then there’s a workflow to get that done. And we can look at models of innovation or design thinking process. Agile has its process to help teams solve problems.
[00:24:18] I think there’s another layer though, that became very evident during the pandemic, which is teams have to connect. At an interpersonal level. W one thing that we learned during the pandemic is work is social.
[00:24:31] And I don’t mean you have to like your colleagues and things like that, but there are two or more human beings coming together, collaborate. Guess what? They bring their human beingness, their human humanity with them. And there’s this very social component to work as well, too.
[00:24:45] And what we’ve found is one of the big challenges coming out of the pandemic is discussing. Now that people are, did feel disconnected. And there’s studies that show this as well, too, that okay. I’m working at home now, during the pandemic and I can be productive personally, but team productivity and team connectedness is suffered. So that what we’re seeing is projects get going. And again, even everybody might be individually productive, but the project has to start over. Because the teams weren’t aligned because they’re not connected, or people are very dissatisfied with their work condition because they’re not connected to their colleagues anymore at a human level.
[00:25:24] When we’re thinking about designing a collaboration experience, I think you need to think about how are the teams going to solve their problems together? How are they going to get from point a to point B, but how are they also going to connect. And we have to make that deliberate in the past, it was basically well went to the office together and that the connection magically happened, the water cooler moments, the happy hours, the cat, the Cantina, meeting our colleagues, the coffee breaks and things like that. Without those things. Or you can, those things still exist, right? Because you still go to the offices and meet in person, but we can’t assume that’s always going to happen with that within every team that I think we also have to make that other layer, we have to make both problem solving and connecting as human beings, we have to make that.
[00:26:07] And there are ways to do that, that if we’re collaborating remotely, there are exercises and activities that we can do to help get to know each other a little bit better. And I’m not talking about, team building activities. Those are good. But those happen, like what, like once a year, once a quarter or something like that, I’m talking about every time you connect, what, where are those little moments where you’re connecting and reflecting?
[00:26:29] As a team about yourself and about the group of people. it’s not about making friends, I’m not talking about, Hey, you have to be, you gotta be, you gotta be a social person. Now it’s just about connecting, as a team, there has to be a cohesiveness there at a human level as well, too.
[00:26:45] So solving problems and connecting, I think are the two big jobs that a team has to do to collaborate.
[00:26:50] As you were mentioning that, I think a really. Difficult point, is the first moment a team comes together? What are your thoughts on that? About how to structure that possibly with the use of some somehow, using a whiteboard
[00:27:05] that’s that’s what we do at mural.
[00:27:07] We even have templates and things for like team kickoff, and Again, just thinking about those two facets are those two jobs to be done. We need to solve a problem together, but we need to connect. So if I were structuring a team kickoff, I would want to have everybody introduce themselves and disclose something that they’re comfortable disclosing.
[00:27:25] I’m not saying again, it’s not about making friends, but there is a relationship. There’s a work relationship that you have to build with your colleagues. And I would also want to get aligned on what’s the problem we’re trying to solve. And I would have activities that would be interleaved. Right again, it’s not about saying, oh, we’re going to take a day off and do team building.
[00:27:43] It’s about every time you interact, even at the beginning of a project, how are you going to get to know each other as people? What’s the modus operandi of each of these people? What are their perspectives that they’re bringing to the table from their jobs and their role? What are their motivations, right?
[00:27:56] How are these people as individuals? What type of person are they? Those types of activities and conversations. As well as what’s the problem we’re trying to solve right together. Google ventures did this study on high performing teams. And one of the most important factors that is a leading indicator of a high-performing team are things like psychological safety.
[00:28:17] Do you feel safe speaking up in front of that group of individuals that you’re collaborating with? Dependability. Can you rely on them to get done with they’re done, right? You don’t build psychological safety and dependability. If you’re only focused on the problem solving side of things, you also have to be deliberate about building up those relationships in those ties.
[00:28:37] So I do feel psychologically safe and I do feel like I can depend on my colleagues. So it’s again, it’s at the beginning and it’s to your question. It’s really important to establish, that playing field that we’re going to talk about psychological safety and dependency, maybe not directly, but it’s going to be something that we’re going to be actively and deliberately trying to build.
[00:28:58] Yeah. Project Aristotle was quite amazing at Google.
[00:29:02] You you’ve got the two books you also have have the toolkit and the other things you do around jobs to be done. Could you say a few words about.
[00:29:10] Sure. So know, I’ve been looking at jobs to be done almost for two decades now, and using it in my own work.
[00:29:18] But about six or seven years ago, I started to teach a course on jobs to be done so that I could learn what are the questions that people have and figure out what the best way. To answer those questions or what’s the language that I need to use to explain jobs to be done. And that was prior to writing the book.
[00:29:35] So when I wrote the book, I felt fairly confident that I understood just to be done, but I also understood how to explain it and really break it down, but I’m not done. I think, and the field’s not done. It’s not like jobs to be done is static. after the book came out, we me and my business partner created a.
[00:29:54] An online resource called the jobs to be done toolkit JTBD toolkit.com and there’s some online learning there where you can do some video courses. We also have live training that we do, but there’s also some resources there some articles and things, and we do monthly. We do a, what we call a community.
[00:30:11] Where there’s a group of two or three dozen people who are interested in jobs to be done, I interview one of them and then we have a big open conversation and really that, all of that, what I just mentioned was really to keep the conversation going. Around jobs to be done after my book to, to make it alive.
[00:30:26] Cause you write a book. It’s static. It’s ink on page on paper, but I wanted to continue the conversation because for me, the book is just a point in time. I did a lot of work before the book and the jobs to be done toolkit is what I’m doing after the book.
[00:30:42] What would be your key advice for people now? The pandemic started over two years ago now. They’ve seen whiteboards, they’ve seen mural. They’ve seen, they’ve tried. Out a bit. I think initially there was a lot of stressing around, general technology and it’s going to be overwhelming and spend half the meeting, just getting the thing, working.
[00:31:03] What would you say are the, let’s say key tips for people nowadays in terms of getting the most out of using whiteboards?
[00:31:09] Yeah, I think I think some of the initial trepidation is gone, but I still think. We need brave people to step up and lead conversations and design collaboration experiences.
[00:31:22] One thing the pandemic taught us was that a lot of meetings and a lot of collaboration and interactions with our colleagues was improvised. And I think when you’re in person, you can get away with improvising a little bit more than you can when you’re remote.
[00:31:35] And part of zoom fatigue for me, by the way, is that we basically just took our calendars and replicated it in zoom meetings, but then we didn’t ask ourselves, did we need to meet at all? We also didn’t ask ourselves, what are the rules of engagement? How are we going to get from point a to point B in this conversation?
[00:31:52] Because if you’re just improvising on zoom, it’s a lot more obvious that there’s no real deliberateness or intentionality behind the interactions. So I think we need brave people to say, okay, we have this new set of technologies and this new work environment, which is sometimes remote sometimes in person sometimes.
[00:32:11] And to step up and be brave to be brave enough to use your imagination, to invent new ways to collaborate. The thing that I would orient to towards is using things like guided methods and there’s thousands out there that you can find, right. For icebreakers, how to start a meeting, how to decide together, how to, brainstorm.
[00:32:32] To use deliberate methods to structure the interaction, to be a lot more deliberate about how you’re going to collaborate. So you’re not just improvising because again, improvising on zoom is what leads to some fatigue. Here’s what I find. If you have a mural canvas open and you have an activity that’s structured and you have a timer, okay.
[00:32:48] Everybody has five minutes to put their best idea down. Okay. We have 10 minutes to, to prioritize this. Time goes by so quickly. I get that a lot in my workshops loop that people go, how did you feel? Four hours so much? And I wasn’t distracted people. Aren’t distracted and they’re not fatigued from it as well too.
[00:33:04] It’s the structure that I put to it. I don’t mean structure in terms of rigid. It’s just that there’s a game plan there. I have a game plan and I have the materials and using neural, I visualize. So everybody can see it and everybody can interact with it.
[00:33:17] So the combination of visualization and guided methods and structure to your meetings, it gets rid of zoom fatigue. When I first heard that term, I was like, what? What’s that? Because I didn’t experience it myself. And the other thing that I thought was what you need to be a little bit more intentional about how you’re getting through your day of.
[00:33:35] Yeah. And so that’s my biggest piece of advice is to structure and design. Essentially collaboration design, right? Design your collaborations.
[00:33:43] That’s fascinating. And actually one thing you mentioned hybrid have you seen any kind of interesting ways teams or companies are using using neural and in a hybrid context?
[00:33:56] Yeah, sure, absolutely. And I think that’s key that, that digitally defined workplace that I talked about, I think that’s what is going to make hybrid a lot more. W I have seen teams doing the opposite. And by that, trying to let the people who are in person continue to work with sticky notes and whiteboards, then letting them, continue to sit at a desk without their own laptop or device.
[00:34:19] I don’t think that’s going to lead to a good hybrid experience. I think the better hybrid experience is to say whether we’re in person. Altogether in person, whether we’re hybrid and it’s mixed. And whether remote, we have to be thinking about how are we going to do this digitally,
[00:34:34] and mural, just to focus on the digital whiteboard component, we do have apps for large touchscreens. We have apps for mobile devices. So if you are in person and you’re entering a hybrid collaboration session with colleagues who are remote show up and have a device that you can interact with, because guess what? There’s audio and video. There’s. How do you chat with the people who are remote? And then if you have a virtual whiteboard, you’re going to want to do that virtually as well too.
[00:34:59] I was just talking to somebody who said, yeah, we got together altogether. We were in person, they deliberately met in person and then they wrote things down on sticky notes and flip charts and they said, oh, what are we going to do tomorrow?
[00:35:13] Like they had no game plan. Once you put something out on a sticky note, they were like, oh, somebody’s got to do it. And then you do the old fashioned. Let’s take photos of it. Let’s transcribe it. But as soon as you put something on a piece of paper, it’s static. And I think what we have to be thinking about is fluidity, right?
[00:35:29] Because your day and day to day, you’re going to move in and out of all of these different modes, you’re going to have a call at nine in the morning, everybody’s remote, then you might go to the office and half of the people are remote. And half of the people. And then later in the day, you have a meeting with your colleagues who are all in the office and the next day it’s going to be a completely different combination on a daily basis.
[00:35:51] Each of us are going to be moving in and out of these different modalities of working remote hybrid, in-person hybrid, in-person remote. You’re going to be going back and forth between these and your project is going to be going back and forth between these on Monday. We’re all remote on Wednesday.
[00:36:06] We all go to the office together in between where all. So your project materials need to be fluid as well too. And move in and out the way to do that is to be thinking digital from the beginning. And we call that a digital first mindset, right? No that’s great. That’s great. .
[00:36:22] So the books are experience mapping and the jobs to be done. Playbook. There’s the jobs to be done, toolkit, a website and is there any other place where people can look you up to find out more?
[00:36:37] Sure. I hang out a little bit on LinkedIn and if you want to reach out on LinkedIn and say hi and connect to me, I’d love to connect with folks who are like-minded.
[00:36:46] And then also. So it’s at Jim callback on Twitter. I’m a little more active on LinkedIn, but I also I’m a little bit active on Twitter and things. I’ll see it right away and retweet or comment or something like that. So LinkedIn and Twitter are another good place to find me. Great. Great.
[00:37:02] Thanks very much, Jim.
[00:37:03] Great. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Tagged as: collaboration.
Liam has been a remote work advocate for a long time, as a successful serial entrepreneur and innovator in this space. We dig into how being remote and asynchronous freed […]
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