Drucker on an Effective Decision Process

Peter Drucker's The Effective Executive

I’m currently finishing up The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. Those of you aware of my love for goal setting, decisions, and productivity won’t be surprised, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the read. Sure the text is a bit outdated, but the underlying principles are still sound and applicable. Drucker’s words have already inspired one post on managing time. This time around, I want to talk about the process he details for making an effective decision.

Drucker lays out five characteristics of an effective decision making process starting with deciding what problems warrant attention and ending with evaluation metrics.

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Three Years at Automattic

Most of Automattic at our company meetup in Whistler, BC in 2016

Previously: Year One. 

Today marks my three year anniversary with Automattic. I didn’t write about my second anniversary, but I’ve sure grown immensely since my first. The past year has been filled with growing as a team lead, learning JavaScript, working on some awesome projects like launching onboarding resources for our customers, and improving the support experience across WordPress.com in general.

One of the aspects about Automattic that I appreciate is the emphasis on growth. We constantly push one another to improve and challenge our own thinking. After year one, I had a list of lessons to share. In no particular order, here are some things I picked up or changed my mind on over last 12 months mostly around leadership, but also on other areas.

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Scott Belsky on Crafting the First Mile of a Product

This is a really great interview with Scott Belsky, cofounder of Behance, over on Design.blog. He hits on the “first mile” of a product—the initial interaction a user might have and why it’s so important:

A failed first mile cripples a new product right out of the gate. Your product may get lots of downloads or signups, but very few customers get on-boarded and primed to the point where they know three things: (1) why they’re there, (2) what they can accomplish, (3) and what to do next (note: users don’t need to know how to use your product at the beginning, they just need to know what to do next!). Once a new user knows these three things, they have reached “The Zone.” Fantastic businesses are built when the majority of users that express interest in a product are able to get on-boarded and into The Zone.

If you’re not following Design.blog just yet, I would recommend doing so. The team behind it at Automattic is creating some really awesome content.

Pairs well with: How to Power User Onboarding with Small Wins

Getting the Right Things Done

I’m in the process of reading The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. One of the main threads in the book is “Know Thy Time.” The point is simple—effective individuals understand where their time is going. More importantly, they understand where their time should be going and work to reconcile the delta between the two.

As I was reading the chapter, I realized I was doing well at the first part; I knew roughly where I was spending my time. I use Todoist to track tasks, a paper notebook for staying on top of appointments, and RescueTime to automatically log how long I spend on various apps/websites on my computer.

How do you take that next step though? How do you actually do anything with that information?

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Tips for Effective 1-1’s

I’ve been really digging the information that Lighthouse has been putting out on their blog and the discussions they’ve started on their Twitter account. Recently, they posted this piece on having effective 1-1 meetings with your manager.

Regular 1-1’s are incredibly important, but far too often, I think they’re scheduled out of necessity (“I guess we have to do it”). Instead, they should be something you look forward to in your week, a discussion about career goals, team dynamics, and big picture items.

Regardless of whether you lead a team, I would recommend giving this a read and implementing the various points. One thing I’ve recently tried to implement—avoiding status updates:

When a manager or team member says they don’t see the value of 1 on 1 meetings, it’s a virtual certainty they spend most of the meeting talking about projects and status updates. That’s a huge waste.

Hungry for more? Here’s how I run 1-1’s.

Building Team Camaraderie in a Remote Environment

A picture of Sparta, the team I work on at Automattic

I’m fortunate to work with a bunch of kickass individuals on a team at Automattic called Sparta. It’s semi-mandatory to own traditional Spartan garb; we pass around “This is Sparta” GIFs constantly; and we play the best game of Two Truths and a Lie you’ve ever heard.

We’ve been together in-person a total of two times since the team formed a year and a half ago in July 2015.

When we get together for a meetup, we get along. We laugh with one another. We have inside jokes. It’s hilariously fun.

When it’s time to work, we get stuff done. We share workloads across the team. We cover for one another. We have serious conversations. We agree. We disagree.

A colleague recently asked me how you build this kind of relationship remotely, one where everyone on the team supports one another and rows in the same direction. I don’t have the answer, but I can share how we’ve tried to go about it on Sparta from the start.

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Highs & Lows of Leading a Team

“I have up and down weeks. This week, I feel like I’m doing pretty shitty.”

I recently had a 1-1 call with another lead from Automattic. We routinely pair up with other leads for several weeks at a time to learn and share with one another. In this particular call, we were talking about the emotional rollercoaster of leading a team.

One week, you’re crushing it. Goals are moving in the right direction, and everyone on your team is rockin’ and rollin’.

A few short days, hours, or even minutes later? You’re failing miserably, and the sky is falling.

I often oscillate somewhere between feeling like I’m crushing life and feeling completely incompetent.

A graph depicting the highs and lows of leadership
The highs and lows of leadership depicted in graphical form!

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Shawn Blanc on Content Strategy

First and foremost: your content strategy should be focused on serving your audience.

Does your content strategy have only the best in mind for your audience?

Consider if your content strategy does the following…?

  1. Does it provide value at all times…?
  2. Is it relevant at the readers’ time of need…?
  3. Does it serve your business goals…?

Shawn Blanc has been making a living from his blog and various products for the past five years. He recently put out a three-part series on content strategy that is worth a read if you’re serious about making a living from your writing (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Shawn draws from real expertise built up over years of doing the work.