Every quarter when we sit down to discuss our goals and objectives for the next 3 months, it is easy to align them with our values of collaboration and curiosity. The challenge emerges when we want to be helpful to others. How do we determine where our help is needed? Or whether we know enough to be helpful at all?
One of the easiest ways to go about it is sharing knowledge. As working individuals, we encounter new challenges and learn from them (hopefully). This means there’s always something new to share. The skill lies in choosing what portion of our knowledge will benefit others the most.
In Q4 2022, we chose a topic we believed would resonate with everyone regardless of role or designation; Productivity.
And what makes us qualified to speak about productivity? As a team, Nurture has made it its mission to reimagine and improve the way we work; meaning we strive to learn, unlearn and relearn at a rapid pace. To do this, we have experimented with tools and practices that would help us work more efficiently and effectively. And this knowledge is what we chose to share with a series of training sessions and workshops called The Productivity Series.
With the broader topic chosen, we set out to fill in the gaps. What tools would be most useful to the most number of people? Who is the best person to talk about each tool? What should the cadence of the series be?
Our plan was to deliver a total of three training sessions as a part of this series, because who doesn’t love a great trilogy? (Lord of the Rings, anyone?)
The chosen topics were
It was important to kick off the series with something interesting and collaborative to get everyone’s attention. The obvious answer? Miro. To say Nurturers use Miro more frequently than any other tool would not be an understatement.
With this training, we wanted to focus on how Miro can make work fun and make collaboration easier. Why was this our first priority? When working in an organization with over 900 people, it becomes necessary to learn how to collaborate with people in different roles.
Zainab Hameed kicked off the training with an unrelated icebreaking activity (on Miro, of course) to get everyone engaged. The session focused on how Nurture uses Miro for brainstorming, planning and collaboration for everything from progress tracking to retrospectives. With a lot of questions and queries from the audience, the session was engaging and touched upon practical usage of the tool.
In retrospect, the training proved to be a success as teams reached out for various templates they could implement within their own teams.
The next thing we wanted to focus on was communication. Although Arbisoft provides communication assessments and trainings, our purpose for including effective communication in the productivity series was very focused. We wanted to dive deeper into how the 4 types of communication (written, verbal, kinesic and visual) could be used to improve quality of work and inter-team collaboration.
To make the content easier to understand and digest, Faizan Elahi included screenshots of effective and ineffective pieces of communication. This was extremely well-received as the attendees were easily able to point out where communication broke down. Starting from a granular level with slack messages and working up to emails and in-person meetings, the session addressed the importance of making your purpose known in the first message/interaction, being concise and providing relevant context.
With documentation and visual communication, Faizan stressed upon the importance of consistent formatting and organization that does not overwhelm the recipient. This session has since been incorporated into Nurture’s orientation and design fellowship program.
The third and final volume of the originally planned trilogy combined the lessons of collaboration and effective communication and addressed the importance of time and task management. Although the topic itself is extremely broad, we narrowed it down to 'Tools Based Management' with a focus on Slack and Google Calendar - the most widely used tools within the company.
A tool is only as good as the hands that wield it. We all may use Slack and Google Calendar daily, but was our use optimized? Probably not. The third volume of the series focused on using these tools to not just manage our time but to communicate our availability through them in such a way that made collaboration easier. Starting with Google Calendar, Bakhtawar Bilal spoke about dividing work hours between personal focus time and overlapping collaborative hours to ensure both aspects of work were being catered to. The attendees learnt how to color code their calendars, personalize their settings and indicate availability.
Similarly on Slack, the group discussed the importance of indirect communication such as using Slack statuses to let others know if you’re free, away or simply busy. Discussion on Slack messaging etiquette followed and suggestions were made to include this training to the new joiners orientation sessions.
There were many 1:1 sessions following this training where people discussed individual problems and worked with the team to optimize their use of these tools.
As more and more people found value in the Productivity Series, the team received requests from people interested in using this platform to share their knowledge and experience with the organization. This led to two additional volumes of the series focusing on
The volume on mind mapping was delivered by Mubasher Ikram who wanted to discuss the importance of visualizing information exactly as it exists in our minds and using this method for improved decision making. He used Miro to demonstrate how creating mind maps instead of structured documents was better for brainstorming and collaboration.
Slack workflows proved to be a topic that garnered a lot of attention from the organization. In a session delivered by Yahya Ali, this volume explored how some repetitive and tedious tasks could be made easier with automated Slack workflows. The session included a practical demonstration that people could interact with and a step-by-step guide of how the workflow was made. Attendees showed great enthusiasm and continued to create their own workflows both during and after the session.