Enabling flow — is it possible?

1 Nov. 2018 | Jessica Dagala

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To be in a yoga flow it requires the transformative trance-like state of the mind as the body moves and focuses from one activity to another.

I find this an appropriate analogy for the likes of agile, where flow is the attempt to gain a state of mindful zen as a team focus from task to task, understanding and solving a challenge or completing an item.

The reality for many agencies and organisations is that flow is a mere ideological concept that so few are able to achieve.

At 24 Digital, we bring in rituals like stand-ups and check-ins but we are guilty of interrupting flow by regular Slack drop-ins and email pop-ups.

I think this is partly due to the strive towards collaboration. Look at the plethora of tools available to aid efficiency, transparency, communication and reporting. Thanks to Trello, Asana, Slack and Microsoft, team collaboration is at an all-time high, but are they too effective at the trade-off of flow?

To enable flow, tools are just one half of the equation.

There needs to be an organisational shift and active encouragement to support flow. Rules and guidelines are required to set an expectation across a business around interactions and interruptions. This may seem robotic, but when you operate in a billable hours business, time is precious and my main remit is to enable the team to be able to do their best work. Flow is key.

So how does an organisation support this concept? What structure can be put in place to balance the need for communication (to unblock your fellow teammate, to solve challenges collaboratively) while also allowing individuals to breathe, focus and engage with their task at hand?

Here at 24 Digital, we’re passionate about creating good UX for our users, and we expect the same from the tools we use.

We’ve experimented with a lot of different platforms over the years across wildly different projects and teams, and we’ve settled on a short list of tools that enable our team to work efficiently and communicate effectively, without any friction that will break their flow.

Slack Team culture | Project team

Used by everyone in the team at 24 Digital, Slack is the core of our collaboration as we all use it daily. It’s the tool I open first on a morning, before accessing my emails. It’s quick, actionable and I can speak with the team in real-time, not waiting for an email response. /giphy

Trello Task management |Client facing

This is our primary tool used for BAU task management. It’s effective because it’s action-based, customisable for each project’s requirements and administration is easy (plus who doesn’t enjoy selecting the board’s background).

Confluence Development documentation and reporting | Internal

Mainly used by our development team, Confluence houses all of our project information from a technical perspective — allowing developers to collaborate on technical approach, review previous solutions and document decisions along the way. We also use Jira for large projects, which isn’t a favourite of mine due to its unnecessary complexity (but perhaps this is user error on my behalf).

Google Drive Project Management documentation and reporting | Internal

Used primarily for document collaboration. As Production Manager I use the Google Suite all day, writing documents, making timelines, pulling reports. Google Sheets is a favourite of mine, especially with the introduction of Google Sheets Query which has made a number of Excel functions redundant.

We were curious how other teams collaborate and communicate effectively. Tonight, in partnership with Mayte, 24 Digital are hosting an event at MYOB to discuss how businesses — from corporates, to start-ups, to agencies — alleviate self-managed teams and encourage effective communication.

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