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02 March 2008

Reading Between the Lines

The other day I had one of those 'stereotypical male' moments...

I was busy at work when my wife called with some obscure question that I was sure she already knew the answer to.

A bit frustrated, I responded with the romantic and sensitive words, "Did you need something else?"

I know. I know. Give me the Husband of the Year award right now!

Needless to say the conversation ended quickly and it wasn't until later that day when I realized what the call was really about.

She was having a very difficult day at work. People were getting let go, job roles were changing and she was feeling a bit insecure about her future.

So why didn't I read between the lines?

Similarly, why don't we read between the lines when we interact with co-workers and end-users?

In the communications department at granger we get calls all the time from people inside and outside the church. Questions from those inside the church often relate to using our Church Management System (FellowshipOne). And we also receive calls from people outside the church regarding their online account (Also a component of FellowshipOne).

Failing to read between the lines can often lead us down the wrong path. We try to fix the problem and then move on, hoping it doesn't happen again. But if we read between the lines, we hear the true question behind the question:

I don't feel equipped to use this part of the program. Can you give me a non-technical explanation of the answer so I can understand it?
When we finally began reading between the lines and changed our behavior - we were able to come up with more helpful solutions:
  1. Process documents: With each passing year we get better at documenting processes for both staff members and the end-user. Here are two examples of process documents we created: The PDFs for Kiosk Setup and for Online Account Problems.
  2. Structural change: Rather than having one or two 'experts' in the use of FellowshipOne who tell everyone else what to do, we created a team of experts called Super Team. This team shares the wealth of knowledge and are champions for the system [more here].
  3. Trying something new: We recently started playing around with the Jing Project - a free plug-in that captures your desktop as either a graphic or as video. This allows you to create training videos for programs you use and processes that need documenting. Huge win with limitless potential. No examples yet - but very soon.

We still have a long way to go but it's amazing how things have changed since we started reading between the lines...