“The single biggest problem of communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Show
The Body Vision team recently wrapped up their annual company meeting. This is an incredibly important time to reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. As part of this meeting, our leadership team takes a day to align on cross functional priorities, relationships, and goals.
This year, we spent a considerable amount of time identifying ways to improve our communications, which will ultimately improve our organization and product, as our team is located all around the world, with significant time change and geographical differences between us. In order to improve our communication, we’ve worked to identify the most noticeable gaps and problems we are facing today and found creative solutions to overcome each and every one of them.
Cultural and language differences may cause misunderstandings and miscommunication. In order to overcome this gap, our leadership team established a well-defined outline of professional terms we use. This way, when one person says something, we know with certainty that every Body Vision employee who hears this understands exactly what this person meant to say.
We have weekly and bi-weekly dedicated meetings for commercial activities planning, retrospectives to learn from past experiences - successes and mistakes, alignment meetings on company goals and actions to achieve those, and dedicated meetings on specific relevant topics. Each meeting has a meeting summary, including action items, that is sent to all participants and relevant people, in order to ensure everyone is aligned and nothing is missed.
As a technology-based company, we easily integrate many technological tools that make our work much more efficient. We use cloud-based collaborative tools and video conferencing to close the distance with international or remote co-workers, allowing each other the opportunity to see each other’s non-verbal communication (and sometimes, in the more casual conversations, their car, house or customer site!). The ability to see each other, gives us a better chance of catching if something is not being communicated effectively and helps to bridge the geographical gap. We also use smart project management tools to keep track of our tasks and processes progress, instant messaging platforms that gather all the work communication in one place and many more. By using these tools, it becomes much easier to share our work and knowledge, find the necessary information quickly and make it accessible to all the relevant people in the company.
Defining roles and responsibilities
We make sure we define people’s roles and responsibilities thoroughly, so for each question or task there's one person that is the “champion,” or owner of it. This ownership means that while there is always someone in charge of the communication around a specific activity or area,the responsibility for the execution and success are shared by all members of the multidisciplinary team. This fact creates a direct communication, guided by the champion, between only the relevant people, without needing to go through irrelevant channels to receive an answer or get something done.
In order to achieve effective communication on extremely complex tasks, we establish processes. We define each step of the process by deciding who is in charge of it, what are each step’s goals and when this step is considered “done.” These processes establish mutual expectations between the team members, help each of us to understand our role in the process and how we can contribute to its efficiency and success. When the roles and steps are well-defined, the communication regarding the process becomes clear.
Since we know communication is so important to our success, and how easy it is to misunderstand each other, we pay attention to this topic. When transferring a message between co-workers, we do our best to make sure it is clear and all the information is given, in order to prevent misunderstandings and confusion. Part of this can be done via video calls and observing nonverbal communication, and part of this is done by giving clear explanations through the team collaboration tools. Our team is comfortable asking for clarification, something to be repeated, or further explanation and it is never seen in a negative way.
We will continue to focus on our global communication, finding new methods and techniques to improve our communication channels and processes, while learning more and more as time goes by and our teams are growing and managing more activities.
To someone reading this outside of our organization, these activities may sound like “extra” work, but the reward significantly outweighs the effort in improved efficiency and strengthening of professional relationships, which ultimately leads to a stronger product portfolio and trickles down to improved patient care. For us, this effort is worth it and we are happy to put it forth.