The Management Technique Essential To Google’s Growth

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In it’s early years, as the company was experiencing astronomical growth, then-Google executive Marissa Mayer started executing a technique she picked up while teaching computer science at Stanford.

At 4 p.m., for 90 minutes each day, Mayer held office hours.

Employees could put their name on a board posted outside her office to reserve a chunk of this time.

“Many of our most technologically interesting products have shown up during office hours,” Mayer, now President and CEO of Yahoo, said in 2006.

The idea for Google News, for example, was first discussed in one of these sessions. Mayer was reportedly able to fit in 15 meetings per day averaging seven minutes per person.

Many other successful managers and entrepreneurs have celebrated the benefits of holding open office hour sessions, a concept that has roots in academia.

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Google Didn’t Get It Wrong: The Open-Office Trend Just Isn’t Right For Your Workplace

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First we had hunting, then farms, then factories.

Then there were offices, with their doors and thick walls. Then cubicles, thinner and shorter walls and no doors.

Today, no more walls. No more doors. Want a picture of your kid on your desk? Better set it as your computer background. Because that chair is up for grabs tomorrow morning, pal. We all belong everywhere and nowhere in the cafeteria of modern work. We live in a strange new world. Your digital desktop is more permanent than your actual desktop.

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Evernote Founder Phil Libin’s Secret To Looking Interested During Meetings

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“I haven’t actually told this to anyone before.”

Anytime you hear those words, pay attention to what the person says next.

Anytime you hear those words from someone who’s co-founded three multimillion-dollar companies, drop everything and start taking notes.

In this case, those words came from Phil Libin, who co-founded and until very recently served as CEO of Evernote. He helped grow Evernote from a simple note-taking application to the billion-dollar productivity suite it is today.

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A scientific guide to creative juices [what they are and how to summon them]

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Does this happen to you?

It’s Friday and you’re sitting in an all-hands-on-deck staff meeting. The boss needs creative ideas for next quarter. “Concentrate!” You’re told. “Be creative!”

You concentrate with all your might, but you’ve got nothing.

The next day you’re outside cutting the grass. There’s the steady hum of the lawnmower engine, the rhythmic predictability of the mowing pattern. Your mind slows down, wanders. Drifts off. But suddenly.

Lightbulb.

Some creative idea nearly knocks you over. It’s brilliant. Where was that kind of thinking when you needed it in yesterday’s meeting?

The answer has to do with our creative juices. And the science behind them. And although “creative juices” isn’t exactly a scientific term, there’s plenty of science behind what we understand to be creative juices.

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How Talko uses iDoneThis + Slack + Talko for great daily standup meetings

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Building the future of communication requires a whole lot of — you guessed it — communication.

Especially when the team is spread out across three cities and two time zones.

Talko is a tool for holding one-on-one and team calls wherever you are. It’s designed to work great while mobile, including in and across highly variable mobile networks. The calls can be recorded, tagged and interjected with photos during the call. The whole call and supporting data is then stored and can be easily searched or shared. The company was founded by former Microsoft Chief Architect Ray Ozzie along with Matt Pope, who heads up product, and Eric Patey, who heads up engineering.

When the team at Talko gets together for their daily standup meeting, they turn to three tools to get the job done: Talko, iDoneThis and Slack.

Or as the Talko team wrote in a recent blog post on Medium:

“We use iDoneThis to log what each team member has done and will do. We’ve used and loved it for years now. By the time we do standup, we know that everyone has seen ‘just the facts’ regarding dones and to-dos. So we focus our standup time exclusively on issues, blockers or questions. It’s efficient.”

Talko is made up of 11 people, with about half in Boston and the rest divided between San Fransisco and Seattle.

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13 Business Cliches That Are Making You Terrible At Your Job

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At some point — long, long ago — someone would say “bull in a china shop” and you would actually picture the scene. Here’s this bull, all big and mad and energetic. But he’s in a dainty little shop filled with dedicate plates and teacups. You can picture it, you might even chuckle a little. And you would definitely remember that conversation.

But hear that same phrase today? You’d get the point, but the message doesn’t stick nearly as well. There’s no imagery to make the point extra clear. You register the phrase and what it means, but the benefits of the metaphor are washed out. You might as well be saying nothing. You basically are.

This is what a cliche is. And they’re insanely common in business. And they’re making you terrible at your job. Terrible? Yes. Talking in empty cliches makes you — and the things you say — forgettable.

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Why Remote Companies Are Doing Employee Perks Better Than Google

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Employee perks. The idea rushed into our vocabulary sometime around the year 2000. The world feared Y2K, it got foosball and laundry service. Since then perks at tech companies have covered all positions on the field, from the practical (catered lunch) to the silly (birthday parties).

Some perks — casual dress, equity — are so common in Silicon Valley that they don’t even seem like perks anymore. We take them for granted.

In your parents’ or grandparents’ day, insurance and sick days were the only perks needed. Even weekends and holidays started out as a wacky and progressive idea. Those days are gone. Today’s employees expect ping pong, pizza Fridays and bring your dog to work policies. Or at least that’s what we’re told.

In reality, many companies are evolving their understanding of what a good employee perk really is. We’ve gone from the early perks of the dot-com bubble (ping pong tables to seem cool and attract press attention) to the perks designed to help keep you sitting on your squishy exercise ball writing code all night. Now, a new kind of perk is emerging, and remote companies are leading the way.

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15 Beautiful Tools For Managing Time Zone Differences

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If you work on a remote team, there’s a good chance you’ve struggled with managing time zones.

With coworkers spread all over the world, it can be hard to keep track of what time it is where your colleagues are. Even if you’re not working remote, it’s easier than ever to end up doing business with someone in a different time zone.

As our world becomes more connected, our differences in time zones become even more important to manage and understand. Here at iDoneThis, we’re a small team and lucky enough to have all our U.S.-based workers in Eastern Standard Time. But our European colleagues are six hours ahead of us. It’s why asynchronous communication is so important. Because their work day is finishing up just as ours is getting started. That means there’s a short window of time for us to talk synchronously if we need to. And sometimes, you need to talk in person.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite tools for managing time zone differences.

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The 5 Daily Habits of a Terrible Boss

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About half of workers at some point have left a job to get away from their manager.

Not the work, not the clients or coworkers. The manager.

We’ve written before about how 95 percent of managers are wrong about what best motivates employees at work. Now we know that many managers are so bad they’re making half their employees leave the job. According to another survey, 19.2 hours are wasted every week — 13 during the workweek and 6.2 over the weekend — worrying about what a boss says or does.

It’s not easy being the boss. But terrible habits make it hard to be a good boss. Don’t be a terrible boss. Avoid these common habits of bad managers and maybe your employees will stick around a while.

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How Travis CI Is Fixing Company Culture By Taking On ‘Culture’

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Here’s a loaded phrase in the startup world: culture fit.

It’s a term with humble early intentions that has grown weeds and sprouted out of its container. It started as a simple way of talking about whether a new hire and current team would work well together. It’s grown into a loaded gun of baggage and misappropriation. It’s used to hire unqualified people and fire great ones.

Mathias Meyer, CEO at Travis CI, started to notice a problem with “culture fit” and the way it was implemented at many companies. It seemed to him like “culture fit” was doing the opposite, and holding company cultures back. Companies, if not careful, would create a monoculture, with everyone acting and thinking the same way. This is terrible for creativity and growth.

Or as Meyer put it in an excellent blog post:

“There’s one fundamental mistake in both using and looking for culture fit as a means for hiring: You’re assuming that your current culture is healthy and doesn’t need to be changed.”

I chatted with Meyer about his thoughts on culture fit, growing Travis CI and what they’re doing to create an authentic company culture.

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