Be Heard Without Being Loud

May 17, 2017

Here’s about half of our crazy team… the day I got my selfie-stick.



I’ll never forget the first business meeting I ever attended. I sat quietly (me, quiet?) with my new coworkers trying to figure out how to strategically share my thoughts and opinions on client acquisition, without rubbing anyone the wrong way. I mean, what would I know? I was fresh faced, inexperienced and nervous AF. After the meeting was finished, I remember talking with my supervisor and explaining how I thought we should implement some changes to our website, to showcase better our company culture and give our agency’s brand a bit of a face-lift. She thought it was a great idea and the following week, I was working on the project. Not too shabby! But here’s the thing, had I had the courage to bring up my idea in our meeting, it would’ve been a great opportunity to collaborate with the team, get other inputs and possibly come up with an even more effective solution. But I was nervous, felt it wasn’t my place to “dis” the current website and didn’t have the chance to say much of anything during our hour long “round table update." I did get a chance to eat a big ol’ muffin though. And it was delicious.



Now, fast forward a few years later (like, 7 maybe?) to the present. I went to work on Friday, sat down with our team (for our weekly retrospective) and discovered quite quickly that we had a major issue in our office: The noise level was far too high for some people to work effectively. Most of us didn’t even realise that this was the case, until we sat down and actually wrote down on Post-its (cuz we’re cool like that), the positive and negative aspects of the week. Within one hour, we had anonymously created a handful of refined, actionable solutions. We voted on the best ones and chose democratically how to more forward. And the best part? We did it all in complete silence! SILENCE?! Yes. All because we used a process. A specific process that allowed us to, without any needless discussion, focus on producing actionable solutions to a challenge. We sit together, we develop solutions together and we decide on the best solution (you guessed it) TOGETHER. All the while, never speaking to each other*. Even as a person who likes to chat, I’m hooked!


*Disclaimer: At AJ&Smart, we do actually really like each other. Really, we do.


Look at all those Post-its!

Using a process is pretty dynamite

I’ve never been much of a process gal myself and despite being a very social person, I’ve always dreaded team work. In my experience, it always had to involve a lot of back and forth, endless open-discussion, and of course, the genuine feeling you wanted to end it all. Without those strong feelings of animosity, it wasn’t collaboration was it? Until I joined AJ&Smart. After the initial shock to the system (it can take some getting used to), I am convinced this is the ONLY way to work.



Fun Fact! The simple solution that was immediately actionable: Buy everyone noise cancelling headphones. DONE. The following week, the level of focus was HUGE and the level of noise was virtually nonexistent. FANTASTIC.



So then, what is a Design Sprint and why should you use it?

The Design Sprint is a process developed by Jake Knapp (while at Google Ventures) that was inspired solely by his desire to waste less time at work so that he could spend more time at home. A great goal indeed! The Design Sprint is a 5 day process for creating user-tested solutions to complex problems. It’s basically a week-long experiment that involves a lot of action in an extremely short amount of time, with almost zero discussion.


It’s brilliant for a lot of reasons, but for me, its true value lies in the fact that everyone, no matter how loud or persistent, has their say. Everyone’s voice is heard and all the solutions are proposed anonymously. It takes all the headache out of team work and allows for true, genuine collaboration. It’s freaking beautiful.


I used to come to work, thinking strategically about when I would be able to get in there and have my say. The way I work now ensures that everyone has a voice, no matter how loud your “voice” actually is.


On Fridays, we read :)  




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