Your startup is on the rise. You’ve added four great developers, six customers have signed on, and you’ve reached a revenue milestone of $2.4 million ARR. But just as things are getting peachy, you notice the company isn’t shipping as much code as before.
What makes productivity problems so hard to deal with is that they’re hard to detect. They’re often so entrenched in culture and old systems that they seem invisible. At $2.4 million ARR, you are now far removed from the day-to-day routine of team members, making it difficult to spot inefficiencies on the ground.
We built I Done This 2.0 to help teams bring lurking productivity killers to light. We want to help our customers spot the most common production killers out there. I Done This empowers you to find out what’s going wrong with productivity and address the problem at its source. Here’s how your startup can track down invisible productivity killers and solve them with I Done This 2.0.
Problem #1: Team engagement begins to decline
There are numerous psychological theories that explain the correlation between high motivation and high productivity. But according to Gallup, only 29% of Americans are “engaged” at work. The majority of Americans aren’t committed to their jobs and making positive contributions. If 70% of a 10-person startup isn’t motivated, it’s like working with a team of 3.
People typically use money to motivate employees. But studies have shown monetary reward is not the most effective way to engage your team. In her book The Progress Principle, Harvard Business professor Teresa Amabile explains that people are most inspired and creative at work when they reflect on personal growth and see themselves improving. After studying 12,000 diary entries from 238 volunteers, she found work-progress to be the biggest fuel for motivation.
Use “dones” to show improvement
I Done This can help you track individual progress. I Done This is essentially the opposite of a to-do list. Instead of checking off tasks, team members record what they’ve accomplished every day as “Dones” on their donelist. If people record the tiny wins they make every day, at the end of a month they’ll have a whole journey to reflect on.
Mapping progress with Dones leverages the progress principle to your advantage. After 30 days, flip through the I Done This Calendar with your team members to reflect on how much they’ve grown.
Problem #2: Information silos form
In her book The Silo Effect, Gillian Tett describes how splintered factions within Sony crippled its production in 2005. Because the PlayStation team didn’t want anything to do with Sony’s television or music departments, the company produced hundreds of gadgets that didn’t work together.
When people hoard information in isolated teams, your startup experiences some major productivity killers, one known as the silo mentality.
Combatting silos is simple: bring different kinds of people together. Getting people of different levels and functions to connect requires you to keep information flowing freely across teams. Outside information can get a team to step back from their silo and consider the bigger picture. Teams that are on the same page knowledge-wise are more likely to collaborate and unify under a common goal.
Let teams share their done lists.
You can spread information across teams with I Done This 2.0’s Team and Organization features. Users are grouped into Teams, and Teams can be grouped into Organizations. Admins can allow any Team within an Organization to see another Team’s done list.
Sharing team done lists is effective at distributing information because of asynchronous communication. People whose paths normally would’t cross can access reports about each other’s work at any time. There’s no need for forced meetings when team done lists are available at leisure.
This also prevents remote silos too, giving remote teammates a platform to show their value and stay in the loop. For better productivity, fight information silos by keeping teams aware of each other’s doings to encourage communication, and collaboration.
Problem #3: Schlep Blindness hides the problem
As time goes on, business processes become outdated. They need to be fine-tuned to stay relevant. But a broken business process can go a long time without getting noticed. We often don’t see the inefficiency of old processes right under our noses because of “schlep blindness,” a subconscious inclination to ignore tedious tasks. It’s much easier to pour more effort into the status quo than step back and reflect on what’s going wrong.
To maintain productive processes, a team needs to fight schlep blindness and consistently analyze how their systems could be better. Companies change constantly, so a process that worked 6 months ago might become an obstacle for productivity today. Improving processes involves isolating areas for improvement, and it’s not uncommon for companies to hire outside process consultants to audit what needs attention.
Instead of hiring auditors, ask your team how they feel about processes. Getting daily feedback from team members not only helps you stay aware of process problems, it can help you isolate exactly what needs to change.
Use dones, goals, and blockers for process feedback
I Done This allows users to give 3 types of responses: Dones, Goals, and Blockers. Dones and Goals show you how team members are currently engaging with a process. Blockers, however, are useful prompts for analyzing which parts of your process people struggle with. You’ll be able to step back and get some perspective on what needs improvement.
Done lists don’t just illuminate what somebody has accomplished, but also how they accomplished it and whether it was hard. For example, if your team can’t get documents notarized because your only notary is on vacation, this might mean you need a better work delegation process before people go on break.
Collecting daily feedback fights schlep blindness by keeping process issues at the forefront of your attention. It’s also an easy way to get first-hand input on which parts of your process are weak.
Keep Perspective to Stay Productive
If your productivity has hit a wall, the worst thing you can do is expect improvement by forging ahead in the status quo. Working harder under an unproductive system doesn’t fix the system.
The productivity killers we’ve outlined can all be solved by being more self-reflective. Reflection is what makes invisible problems visible. The purpose of I Done This 2.0 is to help you build moments of reflection into your day-to-day routine to stay on top of problems as they emerge.
We’ve offered a few tricks to help you jumpstart your productivity. But in the end, only you know the ins and outs of your business. Take a step back, gather self-knowledge, and you can come up with your own unique solutions to find and defeat productivity problems.P.S. If you liked this article, you should subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll email you a daily blog post with actionable and unconventional advice on how to work better.