In the second week of the Code for America 2012 Fellowship, we had some great guests and speakers. Many of them stressed the importance of good communication fairly explicitly. But we’ve had a lot of implicit indication of what a difference good communication can make.
I don’t think I’ve seen a poor presentation or talk at Code for America, but a couple were exceptionally effective. They consistently had simple slides meant to remind us of a focal point. They reiterated critical points and paced the message, so we had time to reflect and absorb. The speakers also articulated the message well without sounding scripted.
This week also reminded me that lack of communication is a very common form of poor communication. An interesting game theory exercise demonstrated how parties can make wildly different assumptions that never get challenged if those parties don’t talk. Fortunately I haven’t encountered something so extreme yet in the program. But occasionally I talk to someone and find out we have more in common than I realized. Even when I find out that our opinions differ, that’s real information that I can take to the bank. Otherwise, I just have vague assumptions, often implicit.
The Detroit team had our first call with our city contact, Samara Bradley, and I really enjoyed it. We learned interesting facts about Detroit, heard some exciting anecdotes, and shared a little about ourselves. We also set a strong stage for further communication, which will prove critical when we get stumped or hit roadblocks. Thanks to Samara for her part in all of that, and thanks to folks like David Eaves and DJ Patil for showing us how it’s done.