I saw this great tweet via Scott Belsky this morning and I had to add a few thoughts (longer than 140 chars):
Regular tools and practices seldom satisfy extraordinary teams. Iterate your method as much as your product.
— Scott Belsky (@scottbelsky) June 13, 2012
I love this because it speaks very closely to my heart about both the tools and technology that I use as well as the methods that I use to execute well with them. And the purpose is not just for personal satisfaction by itself as the greater purpose is a more highly-functioning team.
The tools that I use every single day fall into two very simple categories:
The first are my “core” tools that are absolutely essential to my productivity, such as my notebook (MacBook Air!), Google Apps for email, my writing notebook (Action Method right now), Chrome browser, and WordPress for my writing needs. Everything else really does fall into the next category, “experimental.”
This category is filled with tons of applications that might be used daily but are not mission-critical to productivity. This also means that they are easy to replace (and they often are) with other applications and tools that might be newer or that might function better at a certain level.
I hold the experimental bucket in pretty high regard because it’s where all the vetting happens and where I can serially test drive the suckers until they fall apart or until they no longer prove to be useful.
The methods, on the other hand, are a bit harder to iterate and experiment with since I’m more “locked” into my methods than my actual tools.
What occurs, then, especially from a team perspective with my startups (both 8BIT and Action & Influence), is that my tools and method must work well collaboratively with theirs in concert. Now not all our methods need to be similar but the way in which we think does.
Sometimes this means that we’re using the same tools and technology and other times this means that we may have different personal implementations while adhering to a global philosophy or internal guideline (which may be implicit or explicit).
The challenge is knowing what these philosophies are and how they are communicated, especially if you’re the leader of the organization.
The simple fact is that people will naturally want to synchronize or even parrot what their leader is doing, even if it might be contrary to how they are naturally wired. This can be a negative thing if not managed well.
And especially if you’re a startup – you simply don’t have any time to waste as 99% of your time needs to be spent building product, growing business, and increasing profitability.
Iterate your products. Iterate your method. Steer clear of wasteful experimentation and instead experiment wisely.