Pull and Push Communication

A friend recently told me that she was challenged by information management in the design process. "I'm looking for anything to facilitate faster communication…[it's hard to] remember all the people I have to contact to update about something. Sometimes I'll send out an email and forget the developer, or forget the QA person - and this happens vice-versa…not intentional for anyone. It's just hard to remember everyone in a fast moving environment. "

Communication is tricky. I have to say that face-to-face has advantages over other methods because you can tailor the communication, but it is time consuming. When face-to-face won't do, consider these questions:

  • What are the most essential elements you’re trying to communicate and to whom?
  • What are your objectives for the communication?
  • What are the most effective methods to achieve that?

I’ve been hearing a lot about “visibility” at the Agile '08 conference. Development teams keep card walls that describe the work they are doing. Anyone can mosey up and see what’s happening. Designers can do a similar thing, by posting a timeline, and work product related to each step. Project wiki’s are also good for the running stream of work done. This is all “pull” communication that people can check in on when they are curious, or need reassurance about what your team is doing.

In my experience, “push” communication should be used sparingly, and should contain summaries and action items. People are busy and don’t have time to process a lot of email. Make your moments with them count.

What do you think? What works for you?