009: Communicating, fast and slow

This is what feels like the 78th day of January, and with this edition of the Villager’s Dispatch I am happy to report that we’ve finally made it through the month!

Posted by Christoph Rauscher on Jan 31, 2023

At first I was not able to pin down the feeling I’ve had over the past two weeks, but then several people started pointing it out: This January just feels extreeemely slow. As if the clock’s batteries were drained; as if someone finally decided to take out some of the world’s speed. Not the worst thing, admittedly.

Fei and Christoph at our coworking day in January 2023

After we all came back from our holiday break, we gathered for a little retro- and introspective. We met in person (which does not happen very often) to discuss the current Village One setup, past and upcoming projects, and we talked about what’s good—and where we could improve things. When putting up the following Post-it, I was not sure if I should place it on the “Good” or the “Not so good” column of our workshop board:

Red and green post-it that says

As we’re a fully remote team, we also do most of our communication in an asynchronous way. We have one weekly call, but almost everything else is discussed on our communication platform Basecamp—for everyone to read, catch up and chip in.

This way of exchange has one clear disadvantage though: Written communication can be slow. Very very slow. Some topics are sitting around for weeks before we are able to make a decision, or worse: Some threads just disappear into the digital void. They just sit there, in the back of our heads, and eventually, there is something more important coming in, so we forget about them.
On the other hand though, written communication has some very strong advantages:

  • We have very few meetings! We usually discuss everything in writing, so I can do that whenever it suits me best. For the rare occurrence of urgent topics, we usually add a deadline, or jump on a quick call.
  • No background buzz. We decided against fast-paced chat tools like Slack, because we all had the experience that it often distracted us, people were missing out on decisions, and everything became buried under emojis and gifs, impossible to find later.
  • We aim for well-considered discussions. Async, written communication gives you the chance to really think through a topic before you make a decision or voice your opinion. It also ensures that all voices (also the more quiet ones) are heard (or rather: read).
  • Writing stuff down is more inclusive. Despite the fact we’re all German-speaking at the moment, we usually discuss important topics in English, as eventually, someone who does not speak German might join us. All our considerations and decisions have been documented and are there for every new co-op member to find and read.

We talked about the above post-it for a little while, but eventually, we decided to move on to other topics. It’s just something we need to work with and be aware of; find new decision-making tools when our team grows or when we need to move faster. As for now: Taking out urgency and speed has not been the worst decision for us.

What else is happening at the village? We were absolutely *shooketh* by the amount of applications we received for our product designer role. In total we got 60 emails from people in at least seven countries, roughly 45 of which were honest applications (not copy/pasted). Putting so much time and detail into the actual posting paid off, and we’re very exciting to meet the people who reached out to us. Thanks to everyone who wrote us!

Greetings from the Village, and speak soon
Christoph and the team

Stronger together: Come along for the ride!

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