Extreme Communicating & Book Launch Information

<p>In getting ready for our upcoming book launch, we’ve been re-developing our website. The process has been quite different from the last time we refreshed our site, several years ago. This time we are using a technique called Extreme Programming (XP). </p>

XP is a type of software development that features very frequent "releases" with short cycles, usually a week or less. XP can dramatically improve productivity, sustainability, flexibility and customer satisfaction. However, to make it work, it is essential that the customer and programmer have clear, comfortable, candid, and very frequent communications: Extreme Communicating.

Here are five Extreme Communicating practices to serve you well:

  1. 1. Be transparent

    Sam was at a talk recently given by Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar, a diversified global manufacturer of highly engineered products. EY recently named her Entrepreneur of the Year, Ontario. Sales have quadrupled and their global employee base has grown to over 18,000 since she took the helm in 2002.

    When asked about Linamar's success and her success as a leader, Linda spoke passionately about honest, transparent communication as a deep value. She recounted how she personally visited shareholders after the 2008 financial crash and how the company publicized the actual at-risk accounts receivables, two things that very few companies did at the time.

    Nobody wants their partner to keep things from them.

  2. 2. Be action oriented

    People today are busy. Most say that they are busier than 5 or 10 years ago. Exacerbating this is information overload: the average person gets bombarded with 5,000 advertising messages per day, which is 10 times what would have happened just a few decades ago. We cope with this by tuning out messages. Or by reading just the first bit. Or by skimming.

    We can easily miss important requests or tasks. Make sure your communications are action oriented, and that you put action items front and center.

  3. 3. Be prepared

    For example, here is a good way to prepare for one-on-one meetings in your followership, mentee or grad student role. It can easily be adapted for client meetings, committee work, etc. Focus on the mini-milestones in your work life:

    • In the last two weeks, where did I spend my time, what did I accomplish, and what has changed?
    • In the forthcoming two weeks, where do I expect to spend my time, what will I accomplish, and what do I expect might change? This is an opportunity to confirm priorities.
    • In the forthcoming two weeks, what do I need my boss to do: for example, approve something, make a decision, or give feedback on a report?
  4. 4. Be brief

  5. 5. Summarize

    Here is an excerpt from an interview we did with a very successful senior executive:

    Marc & Sam: Tell us one way you communicate really effectively as a leader.

    Senior executive: One thing I do is call the CEO right when he's about to receive the quarterly financial package. I tell him what three things I think he's going to want to focus on in the report (pointing to a stack of paper two inches high). Then I share my rationale for why I've singled out those three things as being the most important for him to be aware of and to get comfortable with. We talk about them in depth. I answer all his questions. I make sure he feels confident talking about these things with the board and with the analysts.

Interestingly, the top-of-mind communication activity this senior executive mentioned when asked about successful leadership communication was in his followership role. He instinctively knew that keeping his manager well informed was one of his key responsibilities, and key to his future success. Note that since this interview he has been promoted and is next in line for the top job. Not a surprise!