Google Snippets

Google snippets is an internal tool at Google where every week, you write down what you did last week and what you plan to do in the upcoming week.

It turns out that top Silicon Valley companies all use a similar system to drive transparency and productivity. Companies like Twitter, Uber, Reddit, Shopify and Heroku use iDoneThis for its Google snippets.

Google Snippets

Title image for The Definitive Guide to Google Snippets

The Definitive Guide to Google Snippets

I knew nothing about Google Snippets before I moved to Silicon Valley. But when I was out there, I kept hearing that successful company after company — like Google, Facebook, Foursquare, Buzzfeed and more — used the snippets system to power a flat and decentralized management structure, enabling autonomy, transparency, and happiness in the company.

This guide tells everything you need to know about Google snippets, from its inception at Google to how it’s used at top tech companies today. You’ll learn why snippets is so useful and how to get snippets going in your own company.

If you’re interested in using iDoneThis for snippets, just go to idonethis.com. We’d love to hear what you think about snippets and our guide at @idonethis.

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The One Thing Virtusize Does Every Day to Provide the Perfect Fit

Anyone who’s ever had to return ill-fitting clothes bought online knows how disappointing and annoying the whole process is. The two-year-old Swedish startup, Virtusize, solves that problem with a sizing application placed on product pages of online stores such as the British retailer ASOS.

Virtusize logo

Inspired by seeing how top sellers on eBay provided detailed specifications, the founders of Virtusize realized they could help shoppers buy clothes on the web with the right size and fit by comparing measurements to garments they already own. This simple yet handy service, currently used by customers in over 100 countries, is reducing fit-related returns by up to as much as fifty percent.

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Why Foursquare, BuzzFeed, and Shopify Use Google Snippets

There’s one internal communication tool, little known outside of tech circles, that’s been the management engine behind many of tech’s biggest successes. Known as Google Snippets (having started as an internal tool at Google), this single tool has grown to become one that many of the best technology companies use to keep their teams aligned and working in sync while giving them the freedom to work creatively and autonomously.

The reason the system at Google caught on is that it’s not only powerful but incredibly simple to use.

Snippets sends everyone a weekly email on Monday asking you what you did last week and what you planned to get done the next week. When you reply to the email, your response goes onto an internally accessible webpage, and the next day, you’ll get an email that shows you what everyone else in the company is working on.

What began as a modest tool for keeping everyone in the loop became a powerful tool for company-wide transparency, as Google grew from hundreds to tens of thousands of people. With snippets, every employee had access to important knowledge regarding what was happening in the company — a stark contrast from the old days when managers hoarded information and kept it from their reports.

As Googlers eventually spread their wings and left the company for other tech pastures, they brought snippets with them, which is how similar systems became critical management tools at companies like Foursquare.

Here’s why three of the fastest-rising tech companies today use snippets and how it fuels their success:

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Connect Your Services to iDoneThis Effortlessly with Zapier

One of the biggest pain points we’ve heard from our customers is that the vital information on what’s getting done in the company is fragmented across different systems.  Changes to the code happen in Github, meetings happen in Google Calendar, and tasks are marked as done in Trello.  There’s no one place to see, talk about, and get excited about everything that’s happening in the company.

iDoneThis is meant to be that place, but we’ve heard that one of the biggest pain points is that you have to enter dones again into iDoneThis, what you might’ve already entered into another system.  And that means that iDoneThis is just more work to do.

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That’s why we teamed up with Zapier, an awesome tool that automates tasks between two apps with “zaps”, to make it even easier to record and share what you’re getting done in all the tools you use — without any change to your current behavior, to empower you to use the tools you love. We’re excited to share some of the most popular app integrations with iDoneThis using Zapier.

Zapier’s zapping magic takes small but accumulating tasks that you do every day off your plate. By automating the recording of dones, now you don’t have to enter duplicate information into iDoneThis and you can spend more time on the things that matter.

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Tim Cigelske, on How to Keep Track of Interns and Think Bigger

As the director of social media at Marquette University, beer expert, running coach, writer, husband and father, Tim Cigelske inhabits many roles, and he’s accordingly found multiple uses for iDoneThis in his personal and professional lives. While he recently started using iDoneThis with his summer interns, Tim has been a member for over a year, with a personal account for his freelance work and a team account with his wife, Jess.

Tim Cigelske

Along with Google Calendar, the couple uses iDoneThis to keep track of their household, their three-year-old daughter and her dance classes, and what’s going on in their lives. “There’s a lot going on outside of work so this helps keep tabs,” Tim says. And for his freelancing, he uses iDoneThis as a handy reminder system, recording published links, and using his iDoneThis emails to prompt him the next day or next week to promote his work on social media.

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Buzzfeed’s Kismet Engine that Drives Deliberate Focus

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People often hold this ideal about how great work gets done through serendipity, as if brains to stumble upon each other like characters in a romantic comedy. More often, the spark happens when we create the conditions for it to do so. If you really want lightning to strike, you don’t just mosey along empty-handed, you go out there with a lightning rod.

Jon Steinberg, president and COO of Buzzfeed found his lightning rod system, what he calls his “kismet engine.” That fateful engine is Snippets, a surprisingly simple productivity system that originated at Google.

How Snippets works at Buzzfeed is this: employees send Jon a weekly email by the end of the workday on Friday identifying what they’ve been working on and what they need help with. Everyone can also subscribe to each others’ snippets. As for Jon, he reads his compiled snippets over the weekend and then responds with feedback and questions.

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How ScribbleLive Powers the Moment with Liveblogging

ScribbleLive is bringing media companies and brands up to speed with software that allows them to publish, curate, and syndicate content in real-time.

ScribbleLive logo

Recently, ScribbleLive powered Boston.com’s liveblog coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and even served as their homepage when the traffic surge caused Boston.com to go down. By providing tools for journalists and media companies to adapt to this era of always-on social media, ScribbleLive helps fill in context and provide reliable reporting of breaking news.

We talked with Matt McCausland, software development manager at Scribblelive, about how the Toronto-based company manages and communicates with each other.

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Nowadays, You’re Hiring People to Think

In many companies, your manager will know the team’s and company’s objectives, but you won’t.  He may keep crucial information from you so that he can consolidate decision-making power.

transparency at Qualtrics

Not so at Qualtrics, the extraordinary Provo, Utah-based company that did $50M in revenue, raised $70M from elite venture capital firms Sequoia and Accel, turned down a $500M acquisition offer, and grew its headcount to nearly 300 employees in 2012.  At Qualtrics, transparency is perhaps the company’s most important value for one simple and obvious reason—”Nowadays, you’re hiring individuals to think.”

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How Wistia Builds Its Competitive Advantage

Wistia provides super easy, distinctive video hosting, management, and marketing for businesses. We wanted to find out from co-founder and CEO, Chris Savage, how Wistia uses iDoneThis and why they love it.

In the past year, Wistia has gone through a growth spurt, doubling to a total of fifteen people. Chris wrote a great blog post about the challenges of staying productive during such rapid growth, pointing out how Wistia’s “internal communication mechanisms have had to evolve so that they are less disruptive, more relevant, and more helpful.”

Wistia logo

Allotted ample ownership and authority, people at Wistia have a great deal of freedom over what they do. As a result, as Chris explains, “it’s hard to know what everyone else is doing, which I think is really important.” So, the Wistia team uses iDoneThis to “facilitate what would often be those random connections that would happen if you were sitting next to somebody, if you were walking by somebody working on something.”

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