Don't Stress out your Team: How Slack ruined work

The Growth Report - #5

Today's topics include

📈 Growth Marketing:
Sprints for Marketers - A Reliable and Reusable Framework

🧠 Personal Growth:
Polymaths: Why some people are impossibly talented

🔮 Technology Trend:
Don't Stress out your Team: How Slack ruined work

⛑️One lesson from the trenches:
Our remote work setup

📈 Growth Marketing

Sprints for Marketers: A Reliable and Reusable Framework

Over the years, disciplines like product management and software development have adopted solid frameworks of how to work effectively and in a structured way (SCRUM, Design Sprints etc.) However, when it comes to marketing teams, it often sounds more like: "Lets throw some stuff at the wall and see what sticks".

While there is no widely accepted framework for marketers that I know of, I like Alexa Hubley's simple adaptation of Google Venture's Design Sprint methodology.

The Five Phases of a Marketing Sprint

Alexa outlines the process in five distinct phases that you go through for every marketing project or marketing campaign in sequential order.

  1. Map - Do proper research, gather feedback and set informed goals.

  2. Sketch - Within your team, ideate and pitch ideas to reach your goals.

  3. Decide - Vote and decide on content, channels and tactics.

  4. Prototype - Build a prototype that conveys your ideas just enough, so that you can test it with real users.

  5. Test - Test your prototype with real users from your target group, gather feedback and make the appropriate changes.

In her article, she goes into much more detail for each of those phases and provides helpful additional resources on how you can run your own marketing sprints.

One Caveat

I have tried a similar approach myself in the past and found it incredibly difficult for marketing projects or campaigns to adhere to the frameworks' original one-week format. What we did at the time, is to extend the sprints and make them 2-6 weeks long, while staying true to the rest of the design sprint methodology.

It definitely takes some getting used to, especially if you are accustomed to just "work away" on your projects. But over time, you and your team will make up for it with an increased sense of productivity, accomplishment and confidence in your results.

Read the full article

🧠 Personal Growth

Why some people are impossibly talented and what you can learn from them.

There have always been those seemingly impossibly talented people who accomplish a staggering amount of feats during their lifetimes in several unrelated fields at once. Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie and more recently Elon Musk are just some of them.

We call them Polymaths.

In his recent article, David Robson from BBC, explores what makes a polymath and what we can learn from the history's greats to live a more polymathic life ourselves.

Definition of a Polymath

The term has its origins in Greek and loosely translates into "a person with many learnings". However, the exact definition of how advanced those learnings in a certain field need to be or how many disciplines are required, is a topic of much debate.

In his book "The Polymaths", Waqas Ahmed eludes:

When examining the lives of historical polymaths, you may only consider those who had made significant contributions to at least three fields, such as Leonardo da Vinci (the artist, inventor and anatomist), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (the great writer who also studied botany, physics and mineralogy) and Florence Nightingale (who, besides founding modern nursing, was also an accomplished statistician and theologian).

Traits of a polymath

While researching the greatest of history's polymaths, Waqas found a few traits that were pretty common among the bunch:

  • Higher-than-average intelligence (facilitates and catalyses learning)

  • Open-mindedness

  • Curiousity

  • Self-reliance and individualism

  • Driven by a great desire for personal fulfilment

  • Metacognition (thinking and evaluating ones thinking)

Angela Cotellessa interviewed hundreds of modern polymaths about their experiences and found an interesting thread:

Many children are fascinated by many different areas – but our schools, universities and then employment tend to push us towards ever greater specialisation. So many more people may have the capacity to be polymaths, if only they are encouraged in the right way.

So she found that indeed, there is one more trait that is crucial in todays world:

High emotional resilience.

Angela argues that those with lower "self-awareness" and more importantly "self-posession", lack the means to fight the norms that are forced upon us by society and hence are more likely to specialize.

Specialization vs. Cross-Pollination

As David Robson rightly points out: "There are, of course, some good reasons why we might be hesitant to pursue multiple interests. One is the fear that we might spread ourselves too thinly if we devote ourselves to more than one avocation. With a divided attention, we would fail to achieve success in any domain – the idea that the “Jack of all trades is the master of none”.

But he also argues that there is a magical thing call "cross-pollination" happening once we start exploring new fields outside of our main expertise. Meaning, ideas of one field "pollinate" and serve to inspire innovations in the other.

He goes on:

The benefits of cross-pollination becomes evident in the talents of someone like Leonardo da Vinci – whose knowledge of anatomy, mathematics and geometry improved the precision of his paintings, and whose visual imagination fuelled his creativity in mechanical engineering. “These things fed off one another.”

Polymathy is the optimal path to creativity because, by its very nature, it requires you to be diverse in your experience and your learning. And this applies to once-in-a-lifetime geniuses, as well as the average Joe like you and me.

The benefits of living a more polymathic life

Most of us may never reach the heights of the juggernauts highlighted in this article. So why would we even want to become more polymathic?

According to David Robson, new research shows, that pursuing and reaching a certain expertise in multiple fields is strongly correlated with:

  • Increased life satisfaction

  • Increased work productivity

  • Increased overall creativity and problem solving skills

And there is another benefit to switching between different subjects:

Studies of students in many different disciplines – from academia to sport and music – have shown that, after a certain amount of practice or study, we stop learning so efficiently. We can therefore make better use of our time if we regularly switch between skills or subjects. The same goes for studies of problem solving – you will find more solutions to a task if you return to it after looking at something completely different, rather than simply spending ever more time on the same question.

So how can you nurture your inner polymath?

  • Don't be afraid to read about new topics that interest you. You might just find concepts and ideas that you can use in your current field of specialization.

  • Take free online university courses on topics that interest you. MIT, Stanford, ETH and many more of the worlds best universities offer classes on Thermodynamics, Economic theory of trade, Roman history, and Stoic philosophy.

  • Pick up that hobby you wanted to start a long time ago. Whether that's a new sport, an instrument or an art form like painting, dancing or acting.

Read the full article

🔮 One Technology Trend

How Slack ruined work

"Slack was heralded as the product that would kill internal email chains. Instead, it's changed how we behave while in the office" by Sean Hargrave, WIRED

Group Chat: The Best Way to Totally Stress out you and your Team

"If you have a suspicious feeling that Slack is slowly taking over your time at work, you are not alone", Sean Hargrave continues.

Slack has a loyal following and has been growing like crazy, replacing and slashing internal email conversations at businesses across the globe. But the critics grow louder with every month that passes by, as psychologists, neuro scientists and productivity experts weigh in.

For example, Lucas Miller, Professor at the University of Berkeley warns:

"With email you know you probably have time to read through a bunch of messages and have a day to respond, Slack is instant and we get a rewarding hit of dopamine every time we respond to someone or someone reaches out to us to let us know a member of our 'work tribe' needs us. It makes us feel valued and informed, but it also makes us fearful every time an alert comes in that we’ll be out of the loop or ill-informed if we don’t check a message, even though very few truly need our instant attention."

So this results in workers ending up checking their messages about work instead of doing actual work. Its not so much that Slack is doing anything wrong, but the nature of how people are using instant messaging. It might just simply not be the best solution for a work environment.

Researcher Gloria Mark from the University of California says that they didn't find a huge difference in the amount of distraction and loss of productivity compared to email, but the significant added stress of being available all the time and being up to date with what's going on. The issue is, Slack does not distinguish between urgent and non-urgent and between relevant and non-relevant.

So what can you do?

There are a couple of things we suggest:

  • Announcements aren’t chats → Use Emails for that.

  • Treat chat like a sauna — stay a while but then get out. Best set 2-3 standard time that you check Slack per day and close it completely the rest of the day.

  • Treat group chats like conference calls — don’t get everyone on the line. The fewer employees are in it the better.

  • Tell people to “write it up” instead. Slack is great for brain farts, but not for structured thought. Respect the time of your colleagues and think through your feedback, notes, ideas or whatever else you want to regurgitate and convey to them.

  • Set expectations that it’s OK to be unavailable.

Read the full article

⛑️ One Lesson from the trenches

In this section, I share lessons learned this week from building our company GrowthBay.

Our Remote Work Setup

Since GrowthBay is a remote-only company, I thought it might be helpful in these times of need, to share our set of tools that we use to organize ourselves and collaborate within the team and our clients.

Note: We try to work with asynchronous information whenever possible. We don't use Slack or any other instant messaging tool. Kevin is especially apt at this. He writes up any research, project briefs or information he has gathered for later consumption and reference. This saves time and the team can focus on doing actual work.

That's it for this week.

May Purell be with you. 👏🏼

See you next week,