The omission of “why?”
A few years back, I worked at a company which made a very simple mistake in how they delivered product, which unduly limited the amount internal innovation: the omission of why.
The company was in the advertising space which is a morass of opaque terms like “piggyback pixels”, “real-time boom lists” and “demand-side platforms”. Contrast that with something like a music player. Most people understand how music players should work, why you might want one and, if pressed, come up with some potentially innovative new features. Advertising, on the other hand, isn’t as clear. What features does an advertiser look for in their ad buying platform?
The way we dealt with this complexity was by pushing the burden of knowledge onto a few experts within the company. These folks distilled customer desires into features and wrote up a implementation plans. When they vetted this with the others on the business-side, they gave what amounted to a very specific todo list to engineering.
This is harmful because, as a business, you’re trying to hire the best and brightest folks across your organization. By not allowing your employees to operate on the same data across the organization, you breed a culture of assembly-line workers: folks who don’t ask questions, just do what they’re told. This is not what you want the best and brightest to be doing!
The key behind solving this issue is sharing the whys behind decision. By coloring in some of the context around why a feature is necessary, you allow lateral thinking among your employees. If I, as an engineer, can accomplish the same “why” for a given story but with dramatically less work than the proposed implementation plan, that’s better for everyone involved.
At Sprint.ly, we address this by including the “why” as a central part of any user story. By answering why, you educate everyone else in the business of customer needs and reinforce the notion of consistently delivering value.
Empowering people in your organization is important for increasing throughput and minimizing the need for active management. Sharing knowledge and the expression of intent (e.g the whys of something) is paramount. Without it, you’re hamstringing the development of your employees and the success of your business overall.
25 MUST HAVE GETTING THINGS DONE (GTD) APPS
You shouldn’t wonder why you aren’t more successful if you haven’t mastered the art of getting things done and that’s not easy. Being productive is one of the biggest struggles for all of us.
From not knowing what to do to not knowing when to do it, it is all too easy to let the most important things not get done in a day.
And that is crippling. Because days turn into months and months turn into decades. If you’re not careful you can live a lifetime and not do more than just survive.
So what can you do?
Being productive starts with knowing what you want and then taking steps each day to get you there. You don’t have to do everything all at one time. Frankly, that isn’t possible. Even if it were, it’s clearly not practical.
By equipping yourself with tools that keep you focused, you increase your chances of getting the most value from the time that you have. Remember, getting things done is not about how many hours you work but about the amount of focus and effort you apply in the hours that you do work.
Here are a few tools that can help you take back control of your busy schedule. From web apps to mobile apps, you should be able to take your priorities with you wherever you happen to be.
- Asana (www.asana.com) — The best free team project management platform on the web right now. Mobile apps and synchronization to your calendar are a few of the many powerful features available.
- Astrid (www.astrid.com) — Best task tracking app ever for Android. Newly added iPhone and web platforms make it easy to use anywhere. Looks great.
- SpringPad (www.springpadit.com) — More than just a task tracking application. It’s the smartest platform ever for keeping track of everything that you want to remember. Take notes. The platform will create reminders automatically for you.
- Remember the Milk (www.rememberthemilk.com) — The de facto standard for task lists. You can use natural language to add tags and deadlines. It’s a great platform to use especially if you don’t know what you want.
- Action Method (www.actionmethod.com) – A series of web, mobile, and pen-and-paper tools provide focus on what you need to do. It’s easy to use and beautiful. Great for designers.
- Evernote (www.evernote.com) — Folders, tags, location tracking, and almost endless storage make it easy to keep track of every part of life. Take notes. Create tasks. Upload documents. Incredible easy.
- Coolendar (www.coolendar.com) — The most unique calendar and todo tracking app in the list. Use every day language and hash tags to make use of the most powerful reminder tool you’ve ever used.
- Do (www.do.com) — This is Salesforce’s completely free team project management platform. Easy to use with basic features. A great way to take notes and then create tasks from what you need to do.
- Do It Tomorrow (www.tomorrow.do) — A quick way to keep track of what you want to do tomorrow. It’s one of the easiest tools on this list. There are only two options — do it now or do it tomorrow. Looks cool too.
- DoIt.im (www.doit.im) — Focused on the GTD methodology, there are a zillion mobile tools to use. A key feature is your ability to search by voice and add locations for where tasks need to be done.
- Flow (www.getflow.com) — The best set of tools for managing repeating events of any project management platform ever. Their newly added concierge service provides you your own virtual assistant for free. Very cool.
- GetItDone (www.getitdoneapp.com) — Basic features and functions for tracking tasks. What makes it special is how it integrates with Evernotes and imports your notes so you can turn ideas into finished tasks
- Google Tasks (www.gmail.com/tasks) — One of the least capable task tracking applications on the web, but it does integrate nicely with their online calendar. And it’s from Google.
- HiTask (www.hitask.com) — Simple and easy to use platform that has plugins for just about any browser and mobile apps. Not overly sexy, but extremely useful.
- Nirvana (www.nirvanahq.com) — A good looking web application that allows you to track projects and assign tasks to key team members. Allows you to add contexts and tags to each project. Very cool.
- Nozbe (www.nozbe.com) — These dudes take execution seriously. A nice looking set of tools at a great price, all geared around helping you manage complex tasks.
- Orchestra (www.orchestra.com) — The coolest looking task app ever. Part instant messaging. Part to-do list. It replaces your email as the key way of communicating with the people you need to work with.
- Producteev (www.producteev.com) — Desktop apps, web apps, and mobile apps — they’ve got them. And they look good. This tool is the only one that automatically syncs with Google Tasks too. And you can use it for free to get started.
- ReQall (www.reqall.com) — Great mobile apps that allow you to speak to your phone and add notes, tasks, and reminders. When you happen to be in the general location where you recorded a reminder earlier, your phone sends you a reminder to get that task done.
- TeuxDeux (www.teuxdeux.com) — There isn’t another platform like this one. Simple and super-sexy. It is mind-blowingly powerful. You just drag-and-drop tasks in between days of the week. Incredible.
- ToDo (www.appigo.com/todoonline) — A useful set of tools to manage basic projects. Not extra good-looking and lacking the best features of other platforms. But all around useful.
- Todo.txt (www.todotxt.com) — Minimalist is an understatement. Basically just a text editor. But the simplicity and focus forces you to stay on point and get things done.
- Todoist (www.todoist.com) — Very easy to use, but powerful. Their Chrome plugin allows you to create tasks from Gmail or any other page on the web. Lacking mobile apps, but the best of the free platforms.
- Toodledo (www.toodledo.com) — Their latest platform redesign makes this platform a leading choice. Useful mobile apps and their ”hotlist” filters allows you to focus on what is important right now.
- Wunderkit (www.wunderkit.com) — Brand new. And incredibly powerful. Sleek mobile apps, tags, and team collaboration make this one of the best ways ever to get things done in style.
Getting things done doesn’t need to be based on how you feel that day.
Being accountable is key to long-term success.
You execute most consistently when you have tools that remind you of what is most important.
So try a few of these. Use the ones that help you get things done. And keep looking for tools that work the way you like to work.
Don’t sacrifice results because you let the details fall through the cracks.
Getting things done is what you want to do. Make it a priority again.
You’ll be glad tomorrow.
Let’s Talk About Fonts (Video)
What is HTML5?
Browser Awareness Day: Encouraging Users to Upgrade Their Browsers
If you are a web developer, chances are that the most annoying part of your work is related to performing cross-browser compatibility checks. Plus, even if you are not into web development and are an average user of the internet, having an updated web browser is essential, don’t you think?
In fact, many users are often unaware of the advantages of having an up-to-date web browser. Maybe they do not care, or simply do not know the benefits — in either case, an outdated web browser not only hinders the end users’ internet browsing experience but can also becomes a nightmare for most web developers (recall: IE 6).
What, then, is the solution for this problem? The folks at Team Geek have come up with one such idea: Browser Awareness Day – a social campaign to alert users that they need to upgrade their browsers.
Basically, the idea is to urge users to upgrade their web browsers, thereby helping them browse better and also lessening the developers’ burden.
Sounds interesting? You can generate snippets that you include in the
<body> of your site that will inform your visitors if their browser is out of date. Furthermore, you can download banners and even upload your brand’s logo and details to show support for the Browser Awareness Day.
“Together, we can make the Internet better.”
The answer is simple. Don’t let social media define who you are.
Twitter Makes You Think You’re Wise,
Instagram Makes You Think You’are a Photographer,
Facebook Makes You Think You Have Friends.
The Wake Up Will Be Tough.