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Working without Words: Nonverbal Communication in Software - it’s a majority of how we work.

The 7 C’s of communication are fundamental to the transfer of knowledge effectively. It turns out this is at Tasq's core.

In day-to-day interaction, it was found that a majority (read more here) of communication was nonverbal. Some studies suggest even as high as 93%! This is a surprisingly high portion but I think it makes sense. How many times has a text message caused some issues because there was no "tone" or body language. The challenge of software becomes how does it become that nonverbal component of work communication? I’m not talking here about another zoom call, slack or text message, but the software bridging that gap of explicit vs. non-explicit communication. Communication and information transfer only works when it has context for a person - I would argue that it should be one of the C’s (read more below). An email sent at 1:30am is an action item on the to-do list the next day (assuming you didn’t read it and forget to check it as unread). However, that same message sent within the context of the problem in a software system, with the necessary tools specific for the issue, is a problem solved. Read more to see how we built this into Tasq at its foundation.

At Tasq we understand words matter but nonverbal communication is everything. Nonverbal communication in this setting is time, place, context, and priority. For oil and gas, this means time of day, role (operator/foreman/engineer), location of the asset, symptoms of the issue. Software should facilitate bringing all these together and combined with the workflow should produce seamless communication. A tasq of this kind, from this person, on this asset...means what? Tools to execute on this include input and display screens, design, colors, fonts, placement, algorithms and data displayed.

Let’s dive in. Fundamentally, managing work efficiently involves bringing all the necessary decision making tools together at the right time, place, and in the right order. Ultimately the system needs to surface these and provide pathways for resolution whether that be reassigning the work to the correct person or giving you information that you didn't know to move the work forward yourself. But all of this is about humans making decisions. True success and present in Tasq's core, is for the system to have enough knowledge to eliminate some of these steps automatically and deliver the right work to the right person while communicating what is being done to stakeholders. At Tasq, we go a level deeper by using our machine learning to prioritize and use unique scheduling tools to make sure the order of the work completed has the highest ROI.  

At the foundation of communication are the 7 C’s. Learn more about them here.

  • Completeness
  • Conciseness
  • Consideration
  • Concreteness
  • Courtesy
  • Clearness
  • Correctness

The 7 C’s of communication are fundamental to the transfer of knowledge effectively. It turns out that software, if done right, can be very good at all of these. Clearness, Conciseness and Correctness can be related to input and display screens. Collect the information you need and route it to the person who can take action.  Display what is needed to get the job done.  It’s simple on paper but the hard part becomes - what if we don’t know what will be helpful or needed. Read more here about why Tasq is great at this...short answer: we’ve been the ones having to solve the problems with the current tools.

The timing piece of communication, addressed as Courtesy in the 7c list, addresses the issue of “throwing a slack message over the fence” for someone else to take up at 11pm on a Friday night. “Dropping this here…” [insert message] - type actions toe the line between what is Courtesy and considerate. We also aim to remove phrases from work communication like - “did you see xyz”, and the always awkward “bump ^” on a message that hasn’t been responded to.

Completeness and Concreteness are how work gets done. In work management, this is the knowledge share and issue resolution. What is the issue, should we solve it, how do we solve it, did we solve it. This information needs to be apparent and seamless in a system. The devil is in the details and holds true to be the biggest source of waste. Ever pull out a rod string and run back in without checking the rod guides - "well I guess we can do it next time...." is not something you want to hear back in the office.

Practically we take this foundation and use it to help build a better product. Take a look at the visual heart of the Tasq platform - the tasq list - this shows all the work in the system and is categorized and prioritized. Notice the 3 panels to display information, each serving a very important function. We use color throughout to help guide the user and critically think about placement and how to get the users the information they want quickly and in full context.

Recognizing that we don't all work the same is critical. Much like the 7 languages of Love or Workplace communication, each of us responds strongest to one of the types. Unless you are an office of one, that most likely means the person next to you has a different "language". So we offer a kanban style board view to show tasqs for each assignee along their progress. We also give the user the ability to drag and drop and with a click on the each card, see specific well details and history.

Communication is nonverbal. Using Tasq it feels as if you are in perfect synced communication even when your field is hundreds of miles away.

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