In late 2014, ReadyTalk set out to do something that it had never done before – take a Lean approach to some homebrewed intrapreneurship. The project was UbiMeet, and we wanted to help make users more productive and make their meetings better. We focused on pre-meeting preparation and post-meeting deliverables, with particular attention on agendas and action items. The first iteration of UbiMeet went live in March 2015, just a few months after the idea was born. While we had some early interest, we found that meetings could only be improved if folks committed to putting in the work – something we were not making easy enough. UbiMeet temporarily shut its doors in June, only to be reimagined as a personal productivity tool that could be used by individuals in September 2015. Even though we had 1200 sign ups, and learned a lot in the process, we made the decision to shut down UbiMeet last month to focus on some different innovation initiatives.
UbiMeet was an incredibly valuable experience because it exposed us to a bevy of tools and techniques for launching a product under a different brand. More importantly, it was a critical step in shaping how we think about building products at ReadyTalk moving forward. Now we are going back to the drawing board to figure out what’s next. Because of UbiMeet’s focus on agendas and action items, it felt like a natural transition to learn more about how people manage their work, so that’s where we started. Staying true to Lean principles, we decided to set up a series of customer interviews with members of ReadyTalk’s Summit Club.
We wanted to learn how people were leaning on task management apps to keep track of their work and the work they have delegated out. The choice to focus on task management apps was biased by my personal reliance on them, Todoist in particular. I have stated in the past that I am a shameless Todoist evangelist and I use it both in my professional and my personal life. Todoist is my to-do list at work, my chore list at home, my grocery store list, and my weekly dinner menu. I even have my fiancee, the worst #millennial alive, using Todoist. Needless to say, I would be lost without it.
We focused on three main questions during our interviews:
- How are people managing their work today?
- How do they track work that they delegate out?
- How do they communicate decisions made and responsibilities to others?
As is typically the case when you try to get out of the building, we were able to glean some fascinating insights from our conversations. One thing we heard over and over again was that folks are still relying on email and in-person meetings to keep track of work they have delegated out to their direct reports. One of our interviewees indicated she had at least five meetings a week with her team, either as a group or individually, yet she is still struggling to keep track of work.
Another trend we noticed was that there was rarely ‘One System to Rule Them All,’ and most people were using a combination of different apps and analog solutions. Our interviewees listed CRMs, calendar apps, project management apps, Google Docs, email, in-person meetings, and notebooks as different tools in their productivity methodologies. We even had an interviewee who was using a tool to automate emailing out agendas and action items – a notion that felt very familiar! The same interviewee summed up this trend: “We use a lot of different systems and try to hack them together and communicate around them.”
These interviews were only the first part in our continued exploration of the problems that plague meetings and productivity. Ultimately, it feels like we are trying to solve a centuries’ old problem – how do you get people to do their best work, most efficiently? While we certainly do not have the answer yet, it feels nice to get back onto the horse of experimenting and ideating. As we ramp up our new innovation programs, be sure to keep an eye out for what comes next from ReadyTalk!
We would love to hear from you about how you are managing your work today as we continue this journey! Drop us a line at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we will set up a time to chat.