When I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work a few years ago, one of my favorite ideas in the book that I keep coming back to in conversations is the idea of “busyness as a proxy for productivity”. Here’s how he puts it:
In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner
We’ve all worked with violators of this. People that always have fully-booked calendars, can never...
Like most teams, we’ve now been fully remote and distributed since March 13th, almost 5 months exactly after moving a team of 50+ to fully remote, with no upfront plan on how to best organize ourselves.
About 20 of our team was already remote (scattered across the lower 48) before the COVID lockdown started, but several of them were in the office fairly regularly. But that still leaves 30+ that were forced to figure out a remote work setup overnight. Even the previously remote staff had to get used to changes in communications with the rest of the team adjusting...
A list of broad laws that apply to all fields. Thoughtful stuff as always from Morgan Housel:
6. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
In 1955 historian Cyril Parkinson wrote in The Economist:
IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent...
Like many working in product, I’ve been a follower-slash-admirer of how Basecamp works for years.
This model of working in 6-week “cycles” sounds like an attractive option for organizing a team, without falling into the onion-slicing trap of what agile can become — where more time is spent microscoring, tracking, and measuring velocities than on defining what needs to get done and why.
Once a six week cycle is over, we take one or two weeks off of scheduled projects so everyone can roam independently, fix stuff up, pick up some pet projects we’ve wanted to do, and generally...
In the era of every company trying to play in machine learning and AI technology, I thought this was a refreshing perspective on data as a defensible element of a competitive moat. There’s some good stuff here in clarifying the distinction between network effects and scale effects:
But for enterprise startups — which is where we focus — we now wonder if there’s practical evidence of data network effects at all. Moreover, we suspect that even the more straightforward data scale effect has limited...
As pointed out in this piece from Rahul Vohra, founder of Superhuman, most indicators around product-market fit are lagging indicators. With his company he was looking for leading indicators so they could more accurately predict adoption and retention after launch. His approach is simple: polling your early users with a single question — “How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman?”
Too many example methods in the literature on product development orient around asking...
Anyone that works in a successful company with a large distributed staff can attest to remote-first being the future for knowledge work organizations. The more we expand our remote team at our company, the better we all get at realizing all of its benefits. It seems like an inevitability to me that there’ll be a tipping point where all new tech companies begin as remote-centric groups. Naval, the founder of AngelList (which is a key...
Slack grew huge on the idea that it would “replace email” and become the digital hub for your whole company. In some organizations (like ours), it certainly has, or has at least subsumed most all internal-only communication. Email still rules for long form official stuff. It’s booming into a multi-billion dollar valuation on its way to an IPO on this adoption wave.
But over the last couple of years there’s been something of a backlash to “live chat” systems. Of course any new tool can be abused to the point of counter-productivity. As tools like Slack and Intercom...