Communication. This one single word touches every part of our lives, business or pleasure. With interpersonal relationships, it is essential that communication be above par. Communication is a make or break in any business. Most people take those simple, yet profound ideas for granted. And it costs them. BIG.
Communication does not have to be complex to be effective. In fact, the simpler it is and the more transparent it becomes, the more effective and long-lasting the results are. Indeed, in this day and age of technology, we think we know about communication. But do we? Or have we only scratched the surface?
Here at Gould Design, Inc. we effectively communicate by using a peer mentoring system so that any team member can ask for a solution at any time. Maybe it is a common problem. Maybe it’s not. Either way, the issue can be resolved efficiently and in a timely manner. After all, none of our customers send us anything easy, why should our problems be any different! We threw away the “cookie cutters” long ago. With the method we employ, every person has access to every solution to every problem ever encountered. The benefits here are incredible for fostering growth through experience.
How it works
Initially, each team member is assigned a mentor. The mentor guides the mentee along the path of success. Sometimes that path has bumps or roadblocks and there are questions that need additional assistance to be answered properly. The answer from the question at hand could be from that designer’s own mentor that was assigned or it could be an open query so any of the available colleagues can help. Not everyone has seen everything that may come up, so it is important that our team of remote designers have access to all team members that work in different locations than they do. GDI uses Skype to accomplish this.
What we do here at GDI is use group windows for certain talking points. There is a main group window where all team members can converse about any subject (and where we encourage the most activity). Then there are separate windows associated to each account where questions are posted for individuals that relate specifically to that particular account. For those questions that are account-specific, they are posted there.
By attacking the problem this way, every person has access to every solution to every problem EVER encountered.
Additionally, if the problem is encountered again down the road, that person can search for the words and locate it quickly without involving anyone else again or taking up their time. Talk about efficiency! I dare you to try it.
This is a very enriching system. Why? Because designers not involved in that particular problem can proactively learn and be aware of ways to deal with these types of issues even before they face them. Our team, many of which have never met each other, communicate better in most cases than people sitting next to each other all day. This simple discipline has caused our team to grow their own skill set faster and more economically than I can put into words.
By utilizing this type of communication, each and every person on the team has the answers to each and every problem that arises. Some they already know about, some they have never seen before. Some say that failure is the best teacher. Others say that it is experience. GDI says: Why must failure be a part of the equation?
What failure means
How else does a “junior” designer learn other than training, experience or failure?
Well, for GDI, failure is not an option, so we enhance the training experience!
This day and age, we have so many abundant resources available to us. More so than at any other time in history! So why not use them? Why would a company specifically train each and every person on the same thing over and over again if they could do it one time, for one cost, and have the training available at any time the trainee needs to access it down the road? It just doesn’t make sense. What makes even less sense is that there is no training at all and the repercussions that come from dissatisfied customers. I won’t even go into detail about the lost revenue…
Applying communication in real life
Have you ever considered your company’s contingency plan for production in the event of a disaster?
Consider this: The Florida market didn’t concern itself with updating the Building Codes until after the 2004 Hurricane Season. The devastation in the wake of successive hurricanes was incredible. If you lived somewhere else in 2004, you were lucky! Well, I did not. I lived in South Florida at the time.
After all was said and done, it was apparent that the Florida Building Code (FBC) needed some more attention. There was so much destruction and failed building structures, it was simply heartbreaking. Today, the FBC is the most stringent in the United States. Did you know that Florida is the ONLY state that has its own building code?
Here’s what happened in 2004 for those that may have forgotten:
Charley hit Aug. 13, 2004 on Florida’s west coast. Click here for a video of news footage.
Frances hit Sept. 5, 2004 on Florida’s east coast. Click here for a video.
Jeanne hit Sept. 26, 2004, with only an 11 mile difference from exact location of each storms center where Francis made land fall. Click here for a video of news footage.
These storms hit the coast of Florida within 3 weeks of each other, with such ferocity that power outages lasted for weeks and some areas up to months.
Is this what you want for your business? One disaster after another? This is what poor communication is doing to your company.
In the truss business, design and shop production came to screeching halt. Completely! Resources become scarce. Hundreds of thousands of people were competing for the same needs. How valuable do alternative solutions start to become. Some companies had to travel out of state for any viable type of resource from basic needs of food and water, to specialty items such as generators to power their homes.
If this happened to your company, how would you survive? Would your company be able to “weather” the storm? Sure, you say, that’s what the insurance companies are for. But what about those unfortunate folks that did not have any insurance?
That’s what GDI is here for. We’re the type of insurance you pay when you need us, not just because you must have it for some reason or another. But if you don’t get your “policy” in order and in place before you need it, it will not be available when you need it, right?
Why consider using GDI to help?
Are your company’s salesmen holding back on for any of the following reasons?
- Design department overwhelmed with work Load?
- Timelines are beyond comfort level.
- Experienced designers hard to find and could come at the expense of a recruiter.
- Bottle neck of completed design to overwhelm production facility.
- Lack of qualified design employees to handle the type of jobs that the salesman could bring in.
- Builders in too much of a hurry to fast-track jobs, with project documents that lack information.
Perhaps communication can help. All great endeavors have a back-up plan. Consider having an additional resource to handle the spikes in your workflow should be an agenda item at your company’s next planning meeting. After all, would you like to communicate to other drivers or to your lender that you do not have any insurance? What do you think their response would be?
I am not sure that any insurance company will pay out a claim on a policy that was never implemented or on an overdue premium. Isn’t it worth communicating the importance of having a little insurance for your company?
Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series when we dig a bit deeper and put things in a different perspective.