Working in teams can be very challenging for employees as well as for the manager(s). Most common reason for teams to fail to deliver quality is either inadequate management or team members simply don’t know how each other ticks. In stressed situations where different people have to address different scopes of the ongoing issue it is imperative to have proper roles applied throughout the team. Assuming management isn’t an issue here, employees should get corresponding piece of the puzzle and exercise handoff between team members creating a chain or responsibility. If one link in this chain fails to deliver proper handoff, entire process is at stake.
What we tend to do occasionally is help people learn about each other while playing a game. We separate people in groups of two (pairs) where one person will verbally address the second player in this pair. What vocallist will be describing can be any 2D or 3D model or drawing. While first person describes the model second person needs to draw it as precise as possible. Idea is to improve the communication skills and communication in general between team members. When taking about large projects this method can be life saving if there is at least one link in the chain squeaking.
You can literally invent rules as you go but, what we used as time related postulate is that people have limitless time window to complete the drawing. Then, describing-wise, person who is drawing has the right to ask only one question during the game. This question may take place in any moment of the game and should be, naturally, asked wisely.
People are sitting back to back so they don’t see the other participant’s tools and means.
Concluding the game
In the end of the game we are comparing original object or drawing with the one second permission made. What is expected is to have not so close to original drawings because, regardless of how long these people were working together, communication skills is something that needs to be exercised. We are talking about how we say something to another person and how this person will understand what we said. From verbal to non-verbal gestures through variety of scenarios where we need to be as effective as possible.
First drawing is something to tell you where you stand with communication dynamics with certain someone. This is starting ground upon which the game builds the communication skills. What needs to be measured in a way is:
- Details accuracy
- Orientation accuracy (how drawing compares with original in terms of position in space)
- Dymensions accuracy (how drawing compares with original in terms of dymensions of the objects on the drawing)
- Abstraction approach (how abstract drawing is comparing to original)
Measuring details accuracy helps improving technical aspect of communication between people. This is the tool that sharpens engineering communication because it forces people to be as detailed as possible and be technically oriented when handing off information.
This aspect of the game helps improving deeper understanding of moving parts that are not clearly displayed. In day to day operations we are facing with surface information needed for certain tasks to start moving and projects to start rolling out. All the details under the hood that are the core technology or corner-stone of the business or product are not easy to be seen or understood on all levels of chain of responsibility. These details spotting capability can be sharpen by improving orientation accuracy in the game.
Understanding where which moving part comes into play within the big picture is important for management role regardless of management level. To help sharpen this skill we can rely on improving dimensions accuracy as this part of the game will focus on putting things in perspective.
Abstracting parts of drawing comparing to original displays ability to bypass written rules in order tor reach the goal. We can use this tool to understand how people are reacting to scopes of the product they don’t have access to. Also, how they handle going around to solve the problem. The more abstract approach is the better people will go around to fix the problem. But, we need to be careful here as it might show too much abstraction. Thi is telling us people are even more relying on going around than on actual experience and knowledge.