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How To Crush The Language Barrier Between Departments In Your Organization

How To Crush The Language Barrier Between Departments In Your Organization

Tue Aug 30 2016
By: Mike P

Every industry develops its own set of words and phrases. Whether you’re a lawyer, production manager, executive, accountant, or engineer, you’ll encounter catchphrases and trade names on a daily—if not hourly—basis. Frequently used as a method to help us communicate complex or multifaceted items quickly and efficiently, industry slang is a great device for the sake of simplicity in the workplace. The thing about industry-specific terms and phrases is that they carry an enormous amount weight for people familiar with the trade. The only downside is: they’re not universally understood.

How many times have you found yourself in a meeting and heard one of these phrases and felt slightly embarrassed for of asking what that stood for? It’s not necessarily words that trip us up, but the thought process and industry specificity of them that ultimately trips us up. In cases like these, a lack of base-level communication creates anxiety among professionals and can even lead to frustration at times. Imagine how much more productive you would be if you could bridge this communication gap. Well, some companies are setting out to do just that.

We recently caught up with Henry Jacobson, Product Manager of Pulsafeeder, to inquire about the difficulties he faces when aligning the sales, marketing, and engineering departments that work as a collective. Pulsafeeder is one of the few manufacturers that specialize in highly engineered chemical injection pumps—think chemical processing plants or wastewater treatment centers. Part of Henry’s responsibilities as a Product Manager is to strategize a roadmap for Pulsafeeder’s products, defining their purpose and position in the marketplace; this requires a constant need for simultaneous collaboration between members of every department in their organization. When speaking to us in regards to his duties as a Product Manager, Henry also made note of the distinct language barrier that can be found between different departments of a company.

“Officially, I manage a number of processes at once—mostly action items and data tracking—and most recently I was tasked with opening up creative space for our departments to come together. We regularly host meetings with our department heads and they go well, but sometimes there’s a notable lack of understanding between departments. That’s something that happens at every level of business, but still something that can always be improved upon, so that’s what we’ve set out to accomplish.”

The company recently found itself in a unique position as it headed-up a redesign for its office and production facilities located in Rochester, New York. With the remodel of the office space in particular, Pulsafeeder was looking to “reinvigorate excitement and creativity by creating an open space that facilitates collaboration and creativity.” In turn, the company relied on Magnatag’s own expertise in helping shape professional workspaces from the ground-up with modern dry erase technology.

As part of the overall redesign of the Pulsafeeder headquarters, Jacobson and his crew sought to address two components of the design process:
  1. To create a large work area that felt both purposeful and resourceful
  2. To ensure conference rooms were large enough to support groups of all sizes to conduct presentations that were commanding.
The renovations began by taking a look at what other major businesses have done to their interior spaces in recent years. The results indicated that a large number of modern corporations have begun shifting towards a modular floor plan, in an effort to accommodate the rapidly changing demands of a modern organizational structure.

The Pulsafeeder team was mindful of the fact that conference rooms were of particular importance to their employees—given the regularity in which they are used. In addition to the cross-departmental meetings conducted amongst local team-leaders, the company frequently convenes with their group of global engineers that work remotely, adding to the demand for a robust workspace.

“When you work with a collective group of guys that are scattered all throughout the globe, it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone gathered in one centralized location—let alone focused on one topic. But when you do, I think it’s easily one of the more productive ways to spend a morning or afternoon. Updating software programs can be convenient, but it’s not always as efficient as face-to-face communication. ”

With conference rooms serving as a starting point for the renovation process, selecting the best tool for visual communication was of the upmost importance to Jacobs. After weeks of research and preparation, the Pulsafeeder team ultimately came to the decision that Magnatag’s WhiteWall dry erase panels would be the best fit for their conference rooms.

“Whether it’s a group of engineers planning out the design details of a new project, or a joint effort between cross-functional groups, you want to have something available that encourages real-time collaboration. Efficient communication starts with having people in a centralized location. From there, it’s all about creating an open environment; something that Magnatag’s WhiteWalls are perfect for. We wanted to create an environment that was inviting for everyone. The last thing I wanted was to have a group of people staring at a presentation aimlessly, afraid to speak up and bring a new idea to the table. The passive nature of a dry erase wall creates an environment that encourages collaboration without feeling overly intrusive. ”

In the months since the renovation has been completed, Jacobs says that the redesigned conference setting has been an instrumental asset to the engineering, marketing, and sales departments as they develop a strategy for the company’s future.

“We’ve used dry erase systems for years in our manufacturing facilities, and it just seemed like a no-brainer to carry that form of visual thinking over to our conference rooms. Having that ability to draw a simple diagram on the wall and take the place of—what could be—thousands of words. It’s great; they’ve [WhiteWalls] given our team the ability to collaborate and challenge ideas that can translate into great materials for all of our departments.”

Jacobs and his team entered the renovation process seeking to create a workspace that was both resourceful and spacious. However, what the end product was able to achieve was a complete transformation of a typical conference room into a central hub built for communication, something that was able to unify Pulsafeeder’s many departments with the use of visual communication.