Q&A: Jackson Hull, GoCompare

We speak to GoCompare's CTO about collaboration and its role in successful business...

How would you define collaboration in one sentence?

Everyone pulling together in the pursuit of a common set of goals.

How important is effective communication to modern business success?

Communication is vital, but it suffers from being a highly overused and misused concept a lack of communication is always the go-to scapegoat when things aren't going to plan, and communication improvements are always held up as the silver-bullet to all problems. If only it were this simple!

Communication isn't a channel or a buzzword, it's something that you have to work hard at to engrain into people and processes.

Effective communication isn't about introducing yet another meeting, issuing more emails or setting up a Slack channel it's about creating a culture that values input, feedback and scrutiny from everyone. It's only through regular, quick and productive communication that we can all keep focused on our objectives.  We need people to proactively seek assistance and openly raise issues.

Communication isn't a channel or a buzzword, it's something that you have to work hard at to engrain into people and processes.

What are the key benefits of having the right collaboration and communication strategy in place and acting upon it?

Simply put when collaboration and communication is done right, it injects pace and contributes to the bottom line. A lack of speed when it comes to decision making and delivery is a very real cost for a business. It might not be obvious at the time, but delays can have real financial knock-on effects.

An effective collaboration and communication strategy also helps people to tap into their latent potential, get creative and upskill by stretching their capabilities and knowledge. This is a win-win all-round as people's skills grow and the company improves operationally and financially.

Conversely, what are the downsides of not getting this right?

Dejected people, finger-pointing, high rates of staff turnover, getting left behind by competitors and disruptive new entrants, and ultimately a slow down or reversal of revenue growth.

Collaboration and communication isn't something you can ship in and let run, you have to work at it constantly it's such an important thing to get right because it's department and skill neutral, so everyone benefits from an effective, well-implemented and maintained strategy.

What are companies currently doing well when it comes to collaboration and communication? How is your company a good example here?

Inevitably, the leading lights of tech-business do this very well. The likes of Skyscanner and Spotify being obvious examples. Start-ups, too, often benefit from a flatter structure and more accountability, but it can be hard to extend this through growth stages.

GoCompare has been around for just shy of 11 years now, and is a well-known company with a strong brand. Competition is fierce, and our reaction speeds are going to be important for us as we seek to grow our business and help more people save more money.

Our tech infrastructure is sound, so we can avoid unnecessary expenditure on new systems; and by introducing agile ways of working, remodelling the office for collaboration, communication and quick decision making in mind, we have already seen our deployments and projects speed up considerably. We're always working on this, making strategic tweaks and supporting our people to make sure we continue to stay one step ahead.

Being a team of 190 based in one location, in Newport, south Wales, also presents a significant advantage for us.

Is there anything you would change about your collaboration strategy if you did it all again? What words of advice would you give to others embarking on their collaboration journey?

Make a plan that all the people who will be responsible for delivering the strategy have a chance to feed into, and then just get started. The changes are only made real once the people actually doing the work start to feel the benefits.  Also, don't over-focus on the organisational design outcomes, rather set the goals and let people organise.  What we are really doing is conditioning the organisation for more change.

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