The Loop is a framework for healthy and effective communication across teams. We use it at Atlassian, and it can be applied to any organization, whichever tools they use.
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Why we saw a need for the Loop
For all the effort that has gone into creating Agile rituals for intra-team comms, and design thinking rituals for customer comms, it’s shocking how little thought has gone into designing a better system of communication across teams–until now.
Team-to-team communication is not taught, not valued, and often gets a bad rap as “status reporting.” Does any of this sound familiar?
We don't need another redundant meeting on our calendars. And we certainly don't need yet another color-coded, cluster of a spreadsheet to update that no one reads. What we need is a system of communication designed specifically for the world of modern work we all find ourselves in right now. So, we created one.
A framework for healthy & effective communication across teams
We named it the Loop because after adopting it ourselves, our own teams felt more “in the loop” with work happening across the company without feeling overwhelmed, enabling us all to feel more connected and move work forward more effectively.
The Loop's four beliefs
The Loop is based on four core beliefs about what makes for healthy and effective teamwork. It’s these beliefs that underpin Atlas and how it works:
Belief #1: Common vocabulary over common tooling
A couple of years ago, we looked at the status of projects across Atlassian and saw dozens of projects had marked themselves as green–on track.
Then we dug a little deeper and realized that each of the project’s interpretations of “on track” was completely different. One project didn’t have a committed team yet, another was waiting for legal approval, and one was actually complete.
That’s no longer one of our biggest issues at Atlassian (trust me we still have plenty), because every team, every department, every intern, and every exec has a common vocabulary to share the status of their projects.
Belief #2: Open up your work in progress
The only way cross-functional collaboration works is if you open up work that’s not yet done. As a former management consultant, I've been scared in the past to share imperfect drafts. Today though I'm a perfectionist in full recovery.
When you open up your work in progress you can reap the benefits of getting feedback early and often if set expectations with stakeholders about the stage your teams’ work is in.
Belief #3: Curate, don't automate
Effective cross-functional communication needs curation, more than it needs automation. We're all constantly drowning in a never-ending stream of chat messages, e-mails, and an abyss of unread notifications. And no matter how much smarter our apps get, there’s still just too much content to consume.
At Atlassian, teams have started holding themselves accountable for limiting what they communicate, just like crafting that perfect Tweet, we force ourselves to be more deliberate about what we share, with who, and when. Curation is making us much better communicators than automation ever will.
Belief #4: Show that you're paying attention
There is no loop if communication is one-sided. We believe that showing that you are paying attention is critical to keeping communication flowing among teams.
It’s the worst feeling in the world to belabour over writing a status report, only to have no one acknowledge it. So, part of the Loop is creating rituals that keep stakeholders engaged and teams motivated.