Author Topic: COMMUNICATION: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology  (Read 9172 times)

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BalletPSM

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #15 on: Aug 21, 2007, 12:20 pm »
Alright, this is getting blown kind of out of proportion...let me fill out the situation...

It was my first show as an SM at this particular theater, I was very young, and I wanted to please!  Good combo for getting walked over...but it worked, because I've been hired back every year...

You're right, now I know better, and probably would do things differently, but at the time, that's the only situation I could come up with. Plus she was LITERALLY on the way home from the theatre to my house...

Maybe its a holdover from the college days, when you're all in the same place and on your way from one class to another you can stop by the scene shop and make sure the TD got your notes from the night before...

Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

KMC

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #16 on: Aug 21, 2007, 12:36 pm »
One thing I found that worked exceptionally well was having the entire callboard online.  You then create a communication structure that's completely different than most of us currently use with email.  I bring this up because I've seen a couple posts here about people getting too much or too little information.  Putting the information online creates a situation where all the information is available to anyone who is given access, and people can choose how much they wish to digest.  People need to be held accountable for getting the information themselves, and this is done by making this the only way they can get the information.  In my situation I had numerous people ask me to still email them the reports individually; my response was that the information is available online and I've give you access to it, it's your responsibility to go get it.  There was some hmm-ing and general grumblings in the early stages (which there will be anytime there is change), but by the time we were into the 2nd or 3rd week for rehearsal people loved it; it was that much less email that they received every morning.  This was in an academic environment so everyone had easy and reliable access to computers.  I haven't been in a professional situation where I was able to give this a shot, but look forward to when I can!
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

megf

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #17 on: Aug 21, 2007, 03:18 pm »
Kevin -

I've worked in a few environments where the online callboard/production binder system was in place. While I absolutely love the flexibility this offers Stage Management, and I appreciate the responsibility it places on each member of the team as far as retrieving info, I wonder about security. As we can see from BalletPSM's posts, not everyone in this line of business is totally e-savvy; what happens, then, if Joe Designer's Assistant logs in from a public computer and leaves the account open? In the unlikely event that someone else looks at the info, it could become a serious legal issue.... How have you dealt with this eventuality in the past?

I realize this scenario is a bit heavy-handed - but once had to remind a number of cast members that they had to log out of the show site, since failure to do so would have given anyone in the computer lab access to the full contact sheet and original design ideas.

BalletPSM

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #18 on: Aug 21, 2007, 04:07 pm »
Also information coming TO somebody directly is much different from them having to go and seek it out -- we dealt with this issue at our company this past season.

For nutcracker, I sent out weekly emails on monday with the schedule for the week, notes, reminders, etc.

Later on in the season for the showcase (the scheduling of which I am not involved in other than the tech and performance itself) the school administrator just posted the schedule on the website every week.

Parents were fine with both, but the main issue was that with Nutcracker, the info was coming to them, directly, they didn't have to go looking.  It does make a huge difference.

Granted, that's parents, we're talking about professionals on this forum, but it's similar -- I suppose I feel more comfortable knowing that the information somebody needs is going directly to them and that because they're getting it, it means that it is relevant to them in some way. 

Of course, I've never tried the "online callboard," so I can't really say how well it does or doesn't work for me.  Maybe on my next show I'll try to integrate this aspect and see how it goes over.

Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

Sarah

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #19 on: Aug 22, 2007, 07:59 pm »
Mac said:

Quote
It is more the ethical issues of the appropriateness of instant/near instant communication that I worry about.

Mac's comment hints towards the core of this topic, and I think it would be great to begin an examination in that direction. BalletPSM's story about the designer who needed notes delivered to her house is a fascinating piece of the puzzle, too. Face-to-face communication time is necessary to the vitality of the production process, IMHO, and though some of us may have scratched our heads with wonder, as did I, at the method of delivery, the right information got to the right person.

Online callboards are also fantastic tools for disseminating a lot of varied information to a lot of people, and aside from any issue with security, the responsibility of retrieving information is evenly displaced among those needing to be "in-the-know." Who needs to be in-the-know is a topic that could generate many different threads.

The question then becomes, really, "How fast does X need to know Y?" When multi-billion dollar budgets are on the line, well, I'd imagine the speed of Y approaches warp 10. But in most of our theatres, I'm guessing, we can amble along and occasionally smell the flowers on the way to the P.O. What does the SMNetwork think?


deletedoldnotanymore

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #20 on: Aug 24, 2007, 10:40 pm »
Of course, I've never tried the "online callboard," so I can't really say how well it does or doesn't work for me.  Maybe on my next show I'll try to integrate this aspect and see how it goes over.

I used a sort of online callboard for my most recent show.  I hosted a site for the show, just a simple one page thing, that would have the most up to date rehearsal schedule.  I would also hand them a physical printout in rehearsal.  This way they had access to it when they didn't have the sheet around, but they also received it personally, and I know they did, so they are accountable.

centaura

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #21 on: Aug 25, 2007, 10:13 am »
Its a hard line to distinguish, as the technology is racing forward, and is leaving some folks behind.  I personally love email, and do most of my business that way.  It was a brilliant way to communicate while on tour, since I was often my working hours were outside everyone else's daily business hours.  I could send an email at 2am, ask my question, and not have to worry over the fact that no one would be at their desk when I called.  I'd get a reply when I was had time to sit at my computer and deal with it.

I have taken that habit of communicating via email to my new job, and it really annoys my boss.  He thinks communication should be handled via phone calls, and often tells me to call a person if I say I haven't heard back from them via email.  Its a complicated balancing act - what works best for you personally, as well as what works best in your overall environment.

-Centaura

Sarah

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #22 on: Sep 02, 2007, 11:46 pm »
Okay, I’m not ready to let this thread die yet, and, for some reason, I seem to be obsessed with something at the center of our ideas; that something is still too vague to be determined.  Also, we seemed to have veered off topic a bit. Alas, I did also begin rehearsals for two shows this past week so I’ve been a bit busy and have not been able to keep an eye on the thread.

If you will permit me the analogy, last week, while watching Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (the movie), I was struck by a thought.  It is the scene when Aragorn (Mmmmm…Viggo Mortensen) sees the pyre of Rohan burning and makes haste to Theoden screaming “The beacons of Minas Tirith! Gondor calls for aid.”

The beacons have been lit; these flaming signals of hope or entreaty carry the only message that gets through…it’s a lovely wide, sweeping shot…over snow covered mountains and into green valleys, into darkness and finally into the light of day in Rohan, but Aragorn still sees the flame. This flame is essentially a death knell for the inhabitants of Middle Earth, yet they rally and go to war. This was the most efficient method of communication.

Here are a few questions that bubbled up from my oddly programmed subconscious that I humbly submit to the venerable SM Network:

How do we, as stage mangers, achieve this sort of purity in our communications while making the determination of when X needs to know Y?

Aside from reading the rehearsal report to an uninterested designer, how do we make sure X knows Y? This seems to bite many folks in the booty at inopportune times.

On average, how long does it take you to create the average rehearsal/performance report? How much time do you spend in thought, if any, on how you word your notes? This question is in part derived from Mac’s comment that:

Quote
…I think we spend too much time on the medium we use to deliver information, rather than looking at the information we are delivering.


What do you think?

Mac Calder

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #23 on: Sep 03, 2007, 03:07 am »
I have always loved that scene in LoTR. Both the symbolism of the flames, and the effectiveness.

Purity in communication - maybe we as stage managers are too interested in reports? Maybe instead of giving people a report and expecting them to deal with the issues within, we should just write a post-it note and stick it on their desk/front door/other surface/hand it to them/email them. Then just make rehearsal reports available by request. Maybe the answer would be more face to face meetings? Individual one-on-ones every week? Maybe we should just whack people arround the head until they get into the habbit of reading reports and acting on them? Or maybe we should get people to email/call us/whatever with an "Okay, read it, I will get X, Y and Z done by Tuesday" message.

To add another layer to the conversation:

I was called in to aide a friend in a small theatre the other day, as an impartial party, and also to consult on fixing their comunication issues (This company was having major issues, including the lack of a stage manager or equivilent), and my friend came out with one of the truest statements I have heard - and I think it applies to this thread:

Quote
I can tell you everything you need to know, but I cannot make you listen.

I can send rehearsal reports via email, fax, phone, in person, through the mail, through carrier pigeon, I can highlight sections, write post-it notes, write emails, or official "Please responds" etc, but I cannot make you listen and do what I ask you to do. If we provide the information in an efficient manner, is it our fault if the designer/whoever does not listen? What can we do to get arround these issues? Other?

ps. I love this thread too - so completely accademic, but also involving such pivotal topics.

Sarah

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #24 on: Sep 26, 2007, 11:48 pm »
Not...letting...this...topic..die...too...much...to...do...at...the...top...of...the...season...more following opening night. Here's some fun stuff to chew on until then...

Quote
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Obviously, there are major problems with this thesis, but it intrigues me nonetheless. During our chat session on Monday night, I was struck by a thought that reminded me of this study. When I flesh that thought out, then I'll post more on the idea. I think it has something to do with the above nonsense and Mac's friend's comment that:

Quote
I can tell you everything you need to know, but I cannot make you listen.

Like the above jumbled sentence, you need to work a little to get at understanding. This is not a new idea to humankind.

deletedoldnotanymore

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #25 on: Sep 27, 2007, 06:57 pm »
Alright, now I have started working with a new director who doesn't check the website or her email.  The only way to get a hold of her is call her phone before school starts or after rehearsal ends, and hope she's awake.  Needless to say, I give everything to her in writing.  There are still communication issues though.

Wandering Ninja

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #26 on: Oct 01, 2007, 09:26 pm »
I am at a tech school where computers are everywhere.

      I am trying something new for our upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. I have created a basic website with several sources of information: an RSS feed, a embedded Google calendar they can access, a list of contact information, and a page where they can download useful info. All the actors will still get reminder e-mails on the days of rehearsal. They also get a paper schedule at the beginning and I am thinking of making  business card with my info and important dates (thank you to this site for the idea).
    So everyone gets the basic information, and access to useful information no matter where they are. The people who like to check things a lot and get tons of information they can do that. Those who don't want a lot get just that. We will see how it works and if I get sick of maintaining it soon.
"Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete" Waite Phillips

BalletPSM

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Re: Effective communication as it relates to today's technology
« Reply #27 on: Oct 02, 2007, 08:15 am »
Per a suggestion on this site, I made a yahoo group for a show last season -- it fizzled out before rehearsals even started.  I was so gung-ho about it, and had it all together and was really excited about it, and then I just....never updated it.  I keep thinking I should try something similar again but I never do.  Email and paper seem to work for me...information coming TO somebody is different than them having to seek it out (or me having to update it!).

Good luck with your new system!  you'll have to let us all know how it works.

Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

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