REMOTE DISCOVERIES

A BJSS approach

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David Gore
Head of Industries

During this uncertain time, many of our clients have approached us to ask us the question – how can we continue to deliver our projects in a remote setting?

For many organisations, remote working has become the new normal. But that doesn’t mean that your project delivery should suffer as a result.

In keeping with our belief of sharing our learnings, we’ve developed a series of priorities to help you adapt and get your project deliveries back on track in this new remote world. We’ve been following these priorities ourselves to great success.

Here’s a summary of our priorities. You can also download our complete guide here.

 

Priority 1. Set (and keep) clear rules for communication

Communication is at the centre of everything we do. A rule of thumb we have here is to never worry about over-communicating. All that talking is what keeps us aligned.

Here’s the framework we’ve put together to help us communicate:

  • Video chats are essential and should happen frequently
  • For presentations, we set aside an hour each week to review that week’s work face-to-face (or close as we can on video)
  • Always have two messaging channels for each project
  • The specific feedback goes directly into a shared tool
  • We use messaging tools to post a follow-up to our weekly meeting with links directly to the output

 

Priority 2. Use apps to recreate the magical whiteboard huddle

Now we’re fully working remotely, one of the things we miss most is that feeling of getting the discovery team around a whiteboard.

There’s a certain energy and magic when the team huddle together around a whiteboard, brainstorming options and exploring the possibilities of the project in real-time.

Thanks to virtual apps, that magic can now happen remotely.

These workshops are just as effective as an in-person ideation session at generating quick ideas, establishing goals, and setting a general direction for the design, with the added bonus that we can go back and edit them later.

The good news? No low-resolution phone picture required!

 

Priority 3. Establish clear phases throughout the process

We stick to three distinct phases in a discovery project:

  • Plan
    • Where we identify goals, audience, and the assumptions of the project
  • Do
    • Once we’ve defined the direction of the project, we’re able to start the discovery process
  • Review
    • The phases that most clients seem to associate with “deliverables”, this is where we start bringing everything together for them

 

Priority 4. Values to uphold

Ultimately, as the facilitators of the project, our goals are to be inclusive, honour the scope and come to a conclusion.

  • Inclusivity
  • Valuing the scope
  • Finding a conclusion

 

Priority 5. Make reviews interactive and ongoing

It can be tough to read the room on a video call. If we were to limit feedback to formal meetings, there would be too many opportunities for miscommunication.

Instead, we ask for ongoing feedback throughout each phase of the project and do our best to make the feedback process interactive.

In addition to holding formal review meetings, we invite team members to comment on works in progress and to share ideas on in our shared messaging channel. There are several tools we use, which makes this easy—we can simply share a link and gather feedback from everyone.

 

Priority 6. Engage, engage, engage

Once we’ve created a structure or a place during our project where everyone feels like they can contribute, people will be engaged. People are disengaged when there are conversations where they feel like no one is listening to them, or they have nothing to say on the topic.

Here are our non-negotiable engagement 101s:

  • Always build a sense of team
  • We stay connected
  • Build-in time to think alone, then come together
  • Embrace ambiguity!

 

Priority 7. Stick to the delivery discipline and embrace the basics

There are things we know that ensure good project delivery. Delivery. Collaboration. Engagement. Curiosity. Transparency. Adaptability.

These all feature heavily in an ideal world. A key ingredient for these great behaviours is often the fact that we’re co-located. It does mean that building a sense of purpose and ensuring that delivery is effective can be challenging.

It’s important not to skip the basics because they seem hard. Instead, it is best to find the most appropriate way to run them in the new normal. For example;

  • Sprint planning
    • We encourage team members to sketch out tasks for all stories and tasks that come into the sprint.
  • Daily Stand-ups
    • Keep stand-ups engaging through the use of tools such as timers to make sure everyone is paying attention.
  • Show & tells
    • Have a host and don’t be afraid to rotate
    • Set some clear expectations and timings beforehand
    • Try and pre-record technical demos
    • Practice! Have a run-through. As the host, you should know who’s handing over to who and how you’ll know when to move slides
    • Record the session so that others can view
  • Retrospectives
    • There are some great online collaboration tools to help you simulate a post-it note/whiteboard scenario. Techniques such as bringing in remote voices first, or round the virtual room can help ensure no one is feeling ignored or intimidated.

There are some great online collaboration tools to help you simulate a post-it note/whiteboard scenario. Techniques such as bringing in remote voices first, or round the virtual room can help ensure no one is feeling ignored or intimidated.

 

Remote work makes the process better!

With built-in phases and feedback loops to keep things moving seamlessly, our process runs so well because it’s remote. Distance facilitates clear, ongoing communication between our consultants and you, which builds trust over time.

Most importantly, it gives everyone on our team the opportunity to work in their own way, which means we aren’t just doing work. We’re doing our best work. And so can you.

 

How can your organisation
continue to conduct discoveries in a
remote setting?