Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Communication. The secret weapon of one-person companies

It amazes me how many businesses are just totally and utterly hamstrung by poor communication. Games companies, Payment companies, Stores, and outside of games, Telecoms companies, Governments, Car companies, Any large organisation. Communication fails and the business is in tatters.

I would go so far as to suggest that having easy, clear and effective communication between people in an organisation is pretty much the most important factor in the success of a company. More important than technological advantage, more important than branding, more important than the ad budget or the intellectual property… its vital.

Poor communication means you completely fail to convey both good AND bad news. With bad news, that news will never filter upwards to the people in a position to do something about it. Is your website totally and utterly BORKED right now? unless customers have a way to communicate that to you, how are you going to know?

And if a customer even does manage to tell someone in customer services about this, are they able to easily, effectively communicate with the person in charge of the website? Is any information going to be missed during that transferrence? is the web dev going to take what the customer services rep says seriously? Do they even HAVE a way to communicate in that direction?

When you are a one-man company, communication operates at an extremely fast rate. According to this site:

“Neurons, by comparison, fire at a rate of around 100 times per second or so”

So, the marketing department at Positech Games (me) can communicate with the Tech Support department (me) at about 100 times a second. Not bad. The communication speed between whoever mans the twitter account at Electronic Arts and the Lead programmer on Battlefield V is likely slower. Maybe a lot slower. Maybe weeks. Maybe never.

Laser mimics biological neurons using light – Physics World
strategy meeting at positech games

The failure to communicate critical failures is one thing, but this also causes failure when it comes to communicating good ideas, or new ideas, or excellent money-saving ideas. Not only do people like to be listened to, and have their concerns taken seriously by management, sometimes those ideas are fantasically profitable or awesome. When you have mechanisms that filter out feedback to the people in charge, your risk of losing out on those ideas.

I constantly encounter stuff thats broken. For example, I’m using chrome (latest version) on windows (latest version) and wordpress (latest version), and yet for no reason at all, the spellcheck does not work. I could report this… but where? how? and why? We all know nobody would fix it, so why bother? We have all learned that big companies do not really want feedback, and they dont read it, and NEVER act on it.

Twitters phone app (an abomination of evil) constantly suggests I can ‘see less often’ some absolutely unwanted crap, but it never acts on this. It lets me change my timeline settings, but never keeps them that way, because the huge megacorp doesnt actually care what I think, or have any interest in making the app better. Does Jack Dorsey even know this?

I’ve fixed bugs many times in Democracy 4 the same day they were reported. I’ve actually fixed bugs the same hour they were reported. The turnaround time is thus shorter, the customer experience better, the profits higher. Its easy.

The beauty of 2020 is that we predominantly use asynchronous communication. Your customer service people can be in direct high-bandwidth contact with everyone else in the company WITHOUT phoning or physically disturbing them. Slack is not real-time, email is not real-time, skype chat is not real-time. You can have everyone propagate important information through your company asynchronously but directly, ensuring communication is rapid and both good and bad news gets to where it needs to be.

Sure, some people need training on what is, and is not important enough to share, and people need to learn discipline on how to stay focused, but those are relatively simple challenges. Far worse to take the standard approach where nobody talks to anybody outside their own department.

Its easy for me. My company communicates 100 times a second with everyone. If you work in a company >1 people, you really need to focus on this as a core skill.


2 thoughts on Communication. The secret weapon of one-person companies

  1. Great post.

    > Slack is not real-time

    I always find this claim a bit absurd. I remember when slack came about, it grandiose claim was to ‘get people out of their inbox’. Sure, it did that. Do you know what also happened?

    – People expect you to answer slack messages at all hours. If you don’t response, you get the passive aggresive ‘?’.
    – People lose the ability to write well on slack. Rather than sending one eloquent, well written message, they send a bunch of messages, as they just spam out their thoughts in real time, in short sentences. Or worse, they said ‘hi’ and then wait for your responsive before they carry on typing.

    In short, slack is truly evil. Sure, technically it is asynchronous, but in reality it isn’t treated as such and is much more of a distraction than a useful productivity tool.

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