Merlin Mann on Time and Attention (Getting Things Done)

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 03.04.2008

>> WALL: Hello everyone, my name is Deck Wall. And thanks for coming out. I know particularly
with the crowd here that you must be fairly busy. So, it's my great pleasure to welcome
back Merlin Mann again. I--oh, we had him out here for a Techtalk last summer on Inbox
Zero which was very well received. At that time, I compared Merlin with Spiderman which
is I think an analogy that still works. Spiderman is a superhero that deals with the kid of
day-to-day accidentals and stuff like that. And if anybody wants a kind of concrete example
of that, something to make you feel like maybe you're not quite such a complete disaster
in life then you can check out the Perfect Apostrophe I think it was. Which was one of
the--one of the best written essays I've--I've read in a long time and a--and a very humble
piece as well. So without any further ado, I'm going to welcome back Merlin Mann. And
he's going to be talking about somebody moving his brain I think.
>> MANN: Hi. Can you hear me again? Is this on? You hear me all right? Hi, everybody.
Yeah, no. You--actually--in specifically, I think he mentioned that I clean my own underwear
which was in the--in the talk, which is a good way to be introduced. You come out here
kind of humbled. Yeah, it's really good to be back. That was back in July of last year.
And it was--it was a really--it was a good talk. It was very [INDISTINCT] for me because
talking to you guys, you challenged my very obvious insights. So, I'm grateful for that.
It's good to be here. I'm going to talk about your brain and I'm going to talk about your
life. But I want to start by talking about Mike Montero which is a friend of mine. Mike
is a guy who lives in San Francisco and he's the co-owner and the creative director at
Mule Design which you may now--not just from their excellent desire work but also for making
these t-shirts that you might have seen. You might have seen this one in the New York Times
recently, worn by none other than Oliver Sacks. And that's a very creative guy. He went to
Art school and he likes making stuff. He is, like most of us today, a knowledge worker
which is a fancy way of saying he has value to information. But Mule's a very, very small
kind of boutique-y design firm. And one of the values that Mike and his team really enjoy
is that it's--you know small, easy go along, get along work place. But Mike started to
feel a few weeks ago like his life was sort of disappearing into a series of endless meetings.
Where every time he turned around, the meeting is being called, the meeting is being moved.
Not these kind of like, you know, a little 30-second check-ins that you enjoy on a team
that kind to keep the ball in motion. But this kind of like last minute things where
everybody gets called in a room and there's no agenda and then suddenly, it's two hours
later and you head hurts, those kind of meetings. I don't know if you guys get those here. But
Mike--Mike was really kind of reaching the end of his rope with this. Because it wasn't
kind of place that he wanted to work and it was his own damn company. So, it was--it was
vexing to him. If you got to follow Mike on--on the Flickr, his name is dork master on Flickr.
He's--he's a world class smartass. And anytime you see Mike becoming a smartass about something,
you tend to first see it on Flickr, which is where I first saw his idea for what he
was calling meeting tokens. And meeting tokens is his design for something that he wants
to have manufactured to use within his team. And the idea is that he--he wants to create
these little kind of poker chips that represent 15 person minutes of time inside the company,
okay? So, if you--the key is at the beginning of every week, you get a little bag full of
time to use however you want, right? If you want to have a little kind of, you know, 15-minute
check-in with somebody, it's going to cost you one token. If you want to have a half-hour
meeting with two people, four tokens. If you want to have one of those old school 1998
sit around the table, call everybody in and hang out and talk, you can't do it. There's
not enough tokens. He deliberately not put enough bags--tokens into your bags which you
can do that by design. The idea is though that he's--he realized that if he increases
even the smallest bit of scarcity into this otherwise completely open resource, it gets
people thinking a little bit more carefully about how they use it. Now, is this a terrible
idea, is this maybe the worst idea of all time? Would people eventually start hitting
Mike over the head with his own bag of time? Almost certainly, it's a very constraining
ridiculous thing. But you know Mike's a colorful guy. But something about this idea and seeing
this as yet, it's still a prototype. He hasn't actually made these yet, should tell you something.
But seeing that idea really, it's kind of set something loose in my own head because
I realized a thread that was running through a lot of the stuff that was catching my attention
in terms of how--how knowledge workers are struggling. And if you follow any of the stuff
that I do with, you'll see I talk a lot about things like procrastination
and dealing with a large volume of email and things like meetings. And I saw in this one
ridiculous gesture something that had really been congealing. And that's the fact that
had become way too much of a bargain. Getting my time and my attention had become much too
easy. And it wasn't something that I could just blame on others because I realized that
a lot of the problem was how much I was making myself accessible to other people. And in
this instance, what Mike was doing was saying, "You know what, I don't want this to be free
anymore. I don't want it to be that easy to take my time and my attention away." So, I
think what you discover is if you live in a world where your time and your attention
have no value or very little value. You are gong to see a lot of waste and abuse. And
you see waste because if you don't internally have a really good barometric idea of what
your time is worth, you're going to fetter it away on really stupid stuff. You're going
to--you're going to find yourself doing things that are not getting you to the places that
you really want to be. But also maybe more importantly, you guys seemed very organized
and together. So that's probably not your problem. But a lot of us suffer from the abuse
part of this which is allowing so much access to ourselves that it becomes really easy to
take us in a million different directions. And so, it's my feeling that in order to become
a good person and a useful knowledge worker, we need to get a better sense of where our
time and attention go and make sure it's going toward the things that are really valuable
to us because if you don't, you're going to end up going into a world of pain. You do
not want to enter a world of pain because entering the world of pain as a knowledge
worker means that all of the things that you want to get accomplished are going to be thrown
away. You're going to find yourself like me, say last night just hypothetically, watching
on the desk for the 15th time and reading [INDISTINCT] of Wikipedia entry for half an
hour. And--and I use that phrase to find yourself because I think that's the feeling of it.
It's not of felling of "Oh, you know I meant and now go and like download a whole bunch
of stuff off BitTorrent so I can listen to the requiem in three different ways. You find
yourself there, you kind of like how well awake with the start and go, "How did I end
up here? What happened? Where--what rabbit's hole did I ran down that brought me to this
place?" I think everybody is suffering from this. Everybody I talked to and of course,
you guys--like I said, you guys are, you know, extremely successful. You have a monorail
in your parking lot which is new. Is that new in the monorail? This food, in my old
fashion, was a little bit dry in--in my drink but the shiatsu massage was really nice. So
you guys probably don't have this problem. But a lot of people do have this problem.
And those people are knowledge workers who are getting the time and attention train where
it needs to be. And I think that you'll find when you start spending some time with this
stuff that time and attention end up being some of the most precious resources that you
have as a knowledge worker. Knowledge worker is a--knowledge work is a term that Peter
Drecker, in this horribly pixilated picture, first started using in the 1960s to talk about
a kind of emerging creative class of people who weren't--you know. At that time, it was
unusual to not be a person who was--you know making nuts and bolts for a living or what
have you. He's talking about people who are essentially adding value to information. You
can be a part of the team but you're doing some thing whether that's drawing, developing,
you know, working on Android, whatever. You're doing something that's taking all of this
education and judgment that you've got in you mind and then applying it to something.
And--well, the quickest way that I found to identify knowledge workers--I was telling
Dick about this earlier. If you look for people with really girly smooth hands that get to
go to lunch whenever they want, that's usually a knowledge worker. And I think--I think that
if we don't take care to keep this stuff together and realize what a precious resource it is,
we wake up one day and find that our time and attention is gone. I don't know if you
guys remember that feeling though. You've--a lot of you are younger than me but it's that
feeling when you're in college and everybody at some point is really, really poor in college,
you know. And there's that sense of like I could do laundry or I could eat or get a beverage
that you're having to make these really like completely economic decisions that God-willing
you're not having to make quite as acutely today. But do you remember that sense of for
example like, you know, that sense of having a laundry versus food decision, and having
such a sense of what like $100 meant. How $100 could change your life and how not having
that $100 met a really substantial drop in your quality of life? You know people say
time is money but the fact is time is a lot more precious than money because you can always
get more money, right? But you can't really make any more time and you can't make any
more attention. I think we all get this to an extent but if you think about the kind
of work most of us are doing today, it's what I started to call a Black Box Career, which
is just this idea that there's kind of their stuff out there in the world that's introduced
into your world. Stop the third unimproved data that has to have something done to it.
That stuff all gets squeezed in to this kind of notional black box. And inside the black
box, all of your intelligence and all of your insight and all of your creativity is applied
to solving a certain kind of problem. And then out the other end comes perfect results
on time and on budget. And as long as everything inside the box goes exquisitely, nobody is
going to have a problem with you because ultimately, nobody cares what happens inside the black
box, right? All they want to do is eat the hotdog. They don't care how it got made. I
think everybody experiences this on--this on some level right now. But I think what's
making this super complicated today is that very few of us are working on a single job
for a single person. Like, you know, you don't have to raise your hand but think--I--is there
anybody in this room now that has exactly one job that reports to exactly one person?
Like no, that's like something from the '30s, you know. Everybody I know, you know, has
this kind of dotted lines running all over the campus wherever they work and all these
different people and all these different people who have different expectations of them. And
they're the one inside of that black box that has to manage all of those relationships at
the same time. So if one person that you are committed to suddenly decides to escalate
the importance of a project, whose job is it to go communicate that to all of the other
people that you have to deal with? Well, it's you. Unless you've got an information nanny
which--is that something Google--did they give you nannies or something? Not yet? No.
>> Yet. >> MANN: But they'll come in on the monorail
when they do. >> [INDISTINCT] we have the...
>> MANN: Put that on the list. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> MANN: I heard they got them in Switzerland. I don't know if that's true but nice campus.
I think it's so you get--get a sense, a really concrete sense of how valuable your time and
attention is. You can't really utilize it in a--in a much useful of ways. As I talk
about this sense of hundred dollarness. If you're walking down the hall way and somebody
came up to you and say "Give me a hundred bucks." You know, you have questions. You'd
said, "Well, why precisely do I need give you a $100?" And he say, "Just give me a hundred
bucks." And you say, "No, forget it. Why? I lost a bet to you or something? Why am I
going to give you a hundred bucks?" But at the same time, would you have that same pressing
need to understand the situation as if they asked you to come have a meeting with them.
Would you have that same sense of what I--like what Monty Hall calls Opportunity Cost where
the sense that when I go and do this one thing, there's now other things that I can't do as
a result of that. And I feel like for myself until I got to a place where I understood
what that kind of exclusion meant, I wasn't really firing on all cylinders. This is an
example about use of time and again because I think it's terrific. It's-- I first saw
Joel Spolsky, who's a developer that does the Joel on Software site. It uses a few years
ago to talk about software development. And this is if you're thinking about the kind
of features that you want to put in to what you're building, you know you could think
about this kind of fixed asset of how much time you have to build this stuff as a--as
a box. And I'm saying--think about a week of your life, or a day of your life, or a
month of your life as a box, right? We can all agree that it has a fixed, you know, number
of kind of cubic inches to it. You can't have a, you know, $700 a week. Not in this Euclidian
world that we live in. Ultimately, we have to be the people who are deciding what kind
of blocks are going to go in the box. And it's critically important that as much as
possible you try to make sure whatever goes in the box is going to be something that pays
dividends in the long run for you. And so really, I think the--the thrust of what I
want to talk about today is trying to make sure that the blocks that never go into your
box are really stupid. That way, you never have to take them out. How do you make sure
they never got there in the first place? And I think one of the things to do is to really
start owning this stuff and to start understating that even the stuff that you just [INDISTINCT]
accept as now being your responsibility, maybe it'd be something that you're very heavily
engaged with. And if not, you're going--that's what--to me, that's what lead to procrastination
and that's what leads to feelings of being overwhelmed is that if you have this entire
horizon of stuff that you have care about. That's where your world starts getting stupid.
And so getting a lot more careful about what you even just agree to fall into your life
is critically important. So, I--you know I understand that this all stuff that you guys
know, right? And I understand that this is stuff that you get. And you probably also
get that you need safe for retirement and you also get that you need to call your mom
and you get that you need to go change the tires on your car, Merlin. And you know all
of these things. But the trick in the kind of life hack way of approaching this is, "How
do I make a synaptic leap so that all of the stuff that I know I need to be doing is actually
reflected in the actions in my life?" And in my experience, there's a big gulf between
those two things. And it ultimately took to make the kinds of changes, even kind of modest
changes about how you approach your work, to get those dividends you've--you've need
me to make slight adjustments to your approach. Do you feel that --take that for being a good
idea into being something that becomes just a natural way you treat your work. When I
was in high school in the late '40s, I was taught something called defensive driving,
which I guess they're probably still teaching today. But in Drivers Ed, you have to have
this idea of defensive driving, which is--this somewhat revolutionary idea that when I drive
my car, yes, I should drive--I should conduct myself in such a way that I minimize the harm
that I do to myself and others. But ultimately, that I should avoid making decisions that
rely too heavily on guessing what other people are going to do. Or more importantly, I must
stop assuming that other people are always going to do the right thing. And that really
the best thing that I can do--I know this sounds a little bit [INDISTINCT] which I apologize
for. That as--like if you're going to be out there on the road, how do you drive in such
a way that we all, kind of, are taking care of our own little half acre? Before we figure
out how to make everybody else drive better, what do I do to start improving my performance
on the road? Now, the fact is you can never get every drunk driver off the road. That
is--there's nothing I can do to stand up here today and tell that is going to make problems
go away. But to me, that's even more reason to get better about this stuff because if
there are going to be people out there and, you know, apparently, I'm told there are occasionally
toxic people and bad managers and things happen. And you've got to react to that in a way that's
very agile. And I think having a set of skills in your mind about how you're going to cope
with that stuff without relying on them to do the right thing is going to help you keep
your sanity and help you keep focus on the stuff that's really valuable to you. And so,
I want to talk about this in two tracks. By the way, today I--well--we're deliberately
going to keep this pretty short because I really like to have lots of time for questions.
But I wanted for the rest of the time hammering away up here. I want to talk on two tracks.
On a personal level or on person level, I want to talk about renegotiation. And then
a slightly broader level, I want to talk a little bit about team culture. And team culture--I
mean the whole idea of team culture is something I have really been thinking about since I
visited here in July. Because so many questions that people asked when I was here was went
straight to this idea of all this stuff is really well and good but what happens when
we start mixing people with different styles and different preferences? What kind of stuff
can we do to make that work better? But let's start with our own half acre. And I think
just with all deference to David Allen, the guy who wrote Getting Things Done, renegotiation
is one of my favorite pieces of getting--Getting Things Done is a terrific book. It's not really
a time-management book. It's kind of a way to start thinking about your work a little
bit differently, a little bit more in action-oriented way. He talks about renegotiating as one of
the three options that you face when you're overwhelmed with too much stuff. You can either
do stuff, you can cancel it, or you renegotiate it. And I've come to think that renegotiation
is maybe the ultimate ninja skill because it's your ability to go in and say "You know
what, this kind of what I want to be doing. But if I turn this just 45 degrees, this turns
into a project I really want to be working on." Because -by doing fairly modest thing
to renegotiate you relationship to the projects that you're working on, it can have vast positive
changes in a way that you approach it. But again, alright, this is a little [INDISTINCT]
and I do apologize. But I really believe that with the great power and autonomy of the--having
this first world career comes in responsibility of also owning the stuff that comes along
with that. And that's where renegotiation becomes critical. It's my feeling that you
can tell so much about a person--ultimately, maybe this would be a good way for you to
learn a little about you. Think about who in you life could have access to you right
now. Who's allowed to have your time right now? How long did they get your time? And
with what kind of sort of pre-existing notice do they need to let you know that they your
time? I think we would all sit here and go. "Oh, well, you know, my--my boss, you know.
Sure, boss because she can jump in at anytime and grab me." Or like, "You know, my dad.
My dad is sick. He can call me anytime and I'll jump in." I think most people feel like
they got this pretty locked down, right? You go, "Oh, you know I'm really smart. I got
spam assassin and like the port color is down man. I am not." But then he sees things like
this. And if you're a MailBot app user like me, I don't know how many times--you could
see up here that there--you see this ding. And that--that means mail just came in. So,
better go check the mail. I don't know I can [INDISTINCT] looking at that, who that mail's
from. I'm not really sure. I can't tell either because it's just a ding, right? If you have
your mail open, and it's making a ding noise at you, unless you're some kind of squirrely,
you know, one of these [INDISTINCT] you need to get growl running and you got notifications
popping up all over the place. By and large, anybody who emails, most of the people in
this room get their attention the second that email comes in. So you're going to stop whatever
it is that you're working on in most cases and jump over to email and go see what that
was about. So, this is a pattern in my mind. This is a pattern. This is not just about
email. And this is just not just about ding. It's about reexamining based on where your
attention goes throughout the week, where these leaks are that it's getting away. And
so yes, this is one specific instance I think--I think actually going in and telling your email
program that you would like it to notify you about email a little bit less is probably
a really healthy pattern. But I think the larger pattern to this is to start thinking
seriously about who gets that access. And again, toward that team idea, you know how
much inside of a team do we want to agree that we're 100% available to each other all
the time, including weekends. Like what are the times when I'm not available? Where are
times that I can depend on having a fire wall time when I let stuff stack out for a little
while and I just focus on the thing that's really important to me? This is not to say
that communicating with your colleagues is not important. But it is a way of saying that
it's a good idea for you to be the one who decides when that access is handed up to other
people. Think about getting your business card to somebody in like the '50s. Like you
give somebody this business card, it would have your phone number on it and, you know,
they call you during the business day. The information you give people on your card now
in some cases gives them extraordinary--they're strangers. Now have this extraordinary access
to you anytime, right? And if you're super wired, you know, you're going to get an SMS
message, if this kind of notification happens. And we're basically just opening ourselves
at a BlackBerry, fantastic tool. But think about the ways in which that gives the entire
world access to you any time. And then, think about what you get in return out of that.
And has this ever happened to do? You're shooting down the hallway. Henderson runs up and has
a quick question to ask you and you say, "Okay, we'll I'm kind of busy right now." And then
Henderson is like, "Oh no, no. It's only about 30 seconds." You know like, "I can't do this
right now, I'm totally busy. Let's go make an appointment." And so you hop over to iCal
or you hop over to Google Calendar and you go and you create a new meeting for your 30-second
question. Is anybody here--don't raise your hands, but just find me afterward if you work
on Google Calendar. What happens when you--I want to do go create a 30-second appointment,
it makes an hour long appointment. It does in Google Calendar too. If you click, it makes
an hour long appointment. So basically, your calendar is telling you that you can do about
six things a day. That might--that works for a lot of people, the larger patterns start
thinking about the defaults in your life, start thinking about some of the stuff that
is handed to you in a certain way. Think about this. I mean, so you guys--whatever, you guys
went to like good state schools and you've had a good breakfast, so you have the sense
to change that to being a 30-second long appointment or whatever. But think about what happens
to a world in which every email program creates a one-hour appointment for a new thing. We
all start think that a meeting needs to be an hour long. I really think it's valuable
to look at defaults. You guys probably know this. You guys are sitting there writing your
own batch profiles and stuff like that. The first thing you do is open up the preferences.
But I'm just saying. Think about some of the defaults in your life. And look at some of
the way that you can renegotiate your commitment to these kinds of things in a way that ends
up supporting sort of patterns that are valuable to you. My life changed when I started qualifying
yes which is my way of saying, I stopped automatically just saying "yes" every time somebody asked
for it. There's a time in the mid '90s when I was one of the few people outside the Supercomputer
Center that knew how to make web pages in Northern Florida. A lot more people know now.
But back then, it was a lot of prestige, you know. So, I was constantly--I was forever
saying, "Yes, yes, yes, of course, I'll make you a band website," or "Of course, I'll make
your, you know, whatever kittens for the Seminole's website or whatever." And I really ended up
regretting it because I was always getting way, way, way over committed because I wasn't
saying "maybe" or "kind of" or "sort of." I was always just taking whatever they gave
me and putting it the way that they wanted it. I think, it's really another hugely useful
move is to learn how to reshape projects. If you are having the black box career, in
other words, if you're the person who lives inside that black box and is having to negotiate
relationships with multiple people that really in the aggregate could take up 120% of your
time, you're going to have to make these kinds of renegotiating decisions. It's not a question
of whether you're going to. It's a question of when you start doing it and when you start
getting better at it. And if you're--like a lot of folks--let's be honest, a lot of
folks in tech aren't here because, you know, they enjoy confrontation. It's hard. It's
hard to do this. It's hard to get these conversation started. But I think, it's really valuable
to say things like, "Yeah, you know that's really a fantastic idea. I don't have the
cycles for that right now. Can we revisit this in six weeks? Or what could you do with
ten hours of my time over the next month if I were to work on this? Just find ways to
kind of reshape this stuff. The bottom line is I think it's important to just doing your
stuff. And I think--I think there's a--it's easy to just start feeling like a victim after
a while when you're so overwhelmed by stuff that you feel like you just kind of like treading
water in quicksand. I think, just really getting in front of it and saying that, you know,
"I'm going to make some [INDISTINCT] different decisions about this that make it into something
that I'm really excited about instead of something that I dread." This is the one I got to tell
you. I'm really happy to talk to you guys about--I'm going to talk about some very general
patterns that I hope afterward we can spin out into some more specific stuff. But I want
to start talking about culture. I am--have been for like four years now. I've been very
interested in this idea of personal productivity and what it means to people. And I am satisfied
that there are fairly modest changes that people can make. Stuff that you can do, to
go back to your desk today where you'd start handling your work in a way that made you
feel better and was a little more responsible, that stuff's not actually all that hard because
you're the only person who has to agree that it's a good idea, right? If you decide, "You
know what? I'm going to shut off email. I'm going to turn off the IRC for a little while,"
or for that matter, "I'm going to go and just plow through all of this email that's been
making me feel really crummy and I'm going to be down with it. That stuff--that's not
really new ones because it's just you. The challenge that I am seeing now is trying to
figure out to tell these different people with these different personalities, different
schedules, different priorities, how do we start working with people in a way that it's
saying? And I think, sometimes people do this in this kind of backwards way where they think
we should start at the top and make a lot of policies and make a lot of rules and declare
things like no email Fridays, you know, which for most people turns into tons of email Saturdays,
you know. But what if, you know--what kind of stuff can we do to really start at the
most kind of atomic level of like the people on your little team, you know. And I got to
tell you, I'm sometimes surprised at to learn that people aren't having more conversations.
Where it's just slightly meta-conversations about how they could be using the tools a
little bit differently or about what their preferences are for communication. I want
to hear--I'll just plant that seed for you guys to start thinking about that because
I really want to hear how you handle this stuff. But I want to talk in some very general
hand-wavy ways about stuff that I think can be really useful. I think above everything
else, it's kind of like, you know, the Hippocratic Oath, "First do know harm." I think, it's
a good idea to just get the conversation started. And sometimes that means trying to tackle
a problem that would have kind of outsized results based on fairly small changes. And,
you know, that could be stuff as simple as, "You know what, we agree as a team that we're
not going to put time-sensitive information into team emails anymore because that's not
how we want to use email. We agree, for example--" I'm not saying this is what you need to do.
I'm just giving you examples. We agree from now on, if you really need something like
this afternoon or this morning, like either come in my cube or let's do it over IM. But
have the conversation--when somebody new joins your team, right, have the conversation. Take
them to one of these sexy little micro kitchens and have a little talk. What--how is it that
our team does this? Because the best thing that you can give to people when they come
here, especially new folks, is to show the culture of how your team works. That's incredibly--that
not making them guess at that or whack at a piñata is going to save you tons of cycles
later on. And they might have new things to share with you that would be useful as well.
But start small, like don't start with like, you know, why does Jody smell like enchiladas?
Don't do anything like emotional. Start with something really simple and then you can--once
you have a conversation going, it's going be easier to get into stuff that's a little
more profound. You guys are probably way ahead on the curve on this but I think working out
internal--I don't want to call them rules and I'm even reluctant to call them standards
but every team, every really good team that I see has worked out kind of sawed off the
edges, sanded off the edges in how they like to operate, right? Like if you're on a team,
like what's the typical team size? If you have a team of like 10 people here, and like
everybody is like bottom coding like old-school UNIX style except one person, one person still
insist on top coding. Like you're going to go and have a blanket party on that guy. You're
just going to go and beat the crap out of him because it's screwing everything up. Simple
stuff like that. I mean, one that I think is huge personally and I will actually say
I think this is a good idea, how you use subject lines. If you're not using subject lines well
in your emails, I'd bet most of you probably are because you seem like a pretty smart bunch.
But if you're not, then you're wasting a lot of time. You're wasting a lot of everybody's
time. What if a team were to go to the little micro kitchen and hang out for 20 minutes
and talk about--that's just how we use subject lines, are the things that we can do to just
start using like EOM for super short messages, are the things that we need to have some kind
of a code at the beginning. Do we want to let people know if something is not time-sensitive?
Maybe you're already doing this. But to find the patterns where there are things like this
that could help everybody shave hours off their day, that's going to be a good change.
When I spoke here in July, one thing that people are just always mentioning to me now,
like a bunch of people saw that Inbox Zero video. And I can't tell you how many people
were like--I feel bad because you guys run, you know, the Internet. But they're like,
"Man, 600 emails a day and they're just sending stuff to listen," like. They're like--so my
sense is that there must be people who are still suffering a little bit with how all
the stuff is going to work, you know. And I just feel like starting at this kind of
squad-level is a great place to start. Everybody has got an opinion on the email stuff but
I think getting some of that ironed out can make life a lot easier. I talked with Dick
about something at lunch that I think is a really neat idea. I think it's interesting--I
personally just--this is just all anecdotal. I have no data on this but my anecdotal impression
is that people get hung up about people using tools differently or in their own words, using
tools incorrectly. Like nothing will drive an old-school email a person out of their
tree like somebody using email wrong, you know. Doing the super long code or we're still
doing the like, you know, [INDISTINCT] length email where all the actionable items are in
the penultimate paragraph and you've got to like fish through that. Like have you got--have
you gotten his emails that like somewhere in here is a request for my time that I'm
sure where. Like, start thinking about putting that stuff into different places. And I know,
I tend to seem kind of email centric. I know for a lot of people SMS and IM is where--is
where is now. But, I [INDISTINCT] to Dick at lunch, I've been thinking a lot about how
a company like yours could use a Twitter-like functionality, right? Like what would happen
if you started trying to stream institutional knowledge and questions through this kind
of river of information that was all captured and then searchable? So like instead of like,
so what happens now? Somebody has a question about something related to your team or you're
view or whatever that gets shot to this list of like hundreds and hundreds of people, right?
Even if that--even if each person has taken only three seconds to read that email, you
still got to process it and deal with it. But I don't know, you know, I don't know if
any of you guys used Twitter. But twitter can become I guess like IRC. It can kind of
become this background application that just kind of runs. And I can't tell you how often
in the last few weeks now, I've seen people become "lazy Twitter" like lazy web where
people will ask something and like all of these people will come back with examples
or, you know, answers to that question. I'm just passing this out. I think it's interesting
within your team or within your--your larger group, start talking about where information
belongs rather than where it has historically lived, you know. There's always the wiki guy,
like, every teams got the wiki guy. This guy thinks the answer to every question is wiki,
start a new wiki and then everybody else is like, "Oh, I got to the wiki and I got to
edit the wiki. And I just want to know, like, how do I ask for this day off," you know.
Go to wiki, you know. And maybe that works, so wiki is working great for people. But you
know, to paraphrase that old quote about regular expressions, you know. If you try and solve
the communication problem with the CMS, now you got two problems. So be careful what kind
of things you ask for. I'm really intrigued by the idea of what I've been calling radio
silence, which is this idea I think it's kind of like the anti no email Friday. If it isn't
clear, I think that's kind of a bad idea, like telling people what days they're allowed
to use tools. But I'm very interested in the idea of saying, inside of teams, what does
it look like if we say for this certain three or four-hour period on this day of the week,
it's not that you can't send me email, it's just that you can't--you should not expect
me to respond to it. And I'm going to shut everything off. I'm just going to work closely
with people on a project that means a lot to me. You know, you guys got the whole like
notional [INDISTINCT] 20% time deal. But I'm talking about something that may be even more
profound than that, which is like within our team, we're just--we're just going to let
the world know, like, we're not out having a picnic here or anything. We're making this
thing. I just think inside of a company, culture across company. What would it look like if
we had a morning each week when we were not scanning the horizon, and we're just focusing
on the stuff that is super valuable to the team? These are all just ideas that I'm tossing
out. Look and see. I look at these as patterns. They're semi-specific but I think they're
things that I--again, I want to hear what you guys have to say about this. The toughest
part of all of this is figuring out how to spread it? If you do come up with really good
ideas--here's a terrible photo, but I've been waiting to use this [INDISTINCT] cover for
years. You know, there's all these kinds of things--you guys probably do this where you
probably like rent a cruise ship and hang out and have a vision quest to talk about
your process but I think the idea of like how you share this kind of institutional information
is critically important. Look, I'm not a developer. I'm not like, you know, the mythical [INDISTINCT]
guy but like I know enough to know the culture has a lot to do with whether you float or
sink. And the ability to pass that culture on to people inside of the company is the
greatest gift that you can give to yourself and your team and the company. So start--what
are some of the ways? These are really questions as much as anything. What are some of the
ways that we can start letting people know "what are the best practices that have worked
for us that might work for you?" And I don't know. I'm not sure the answer is always a
wiki, I think sometimes in the same way that the [INDISTINCT] that I enjoyed all happened
in the hallway. I think that probably the kind of spreading of culture is going to happen
in micro kitchens, in hallways, and while you're getting a massage. It's a joke. The--what
a [INDISTINCT] renegotiation and culture that I think are the two tracks to be looking at
right now, finding a way to kind of reshape the stuff that's coming out. And I'm not saying
you got to sit around and be like you know, Johnny push back. But when stuff comes your
way, figuring out just with the tiniest little turn in this project turns into this something
that I can get really get behind to be very excited that out. And then in terms of close
culture and religious beginning the conversation inside of our team about what we can do to
make it better. And so [INDISTINCT] I'm just a little bit below owing each of you three
tokens right now. So I'm going to stop short. This is not the end of the presentation. It's
just the end of me talking directly to you. You can applaud politely if you like. Finally,
I should mention that when Mike put together, yeah, he's putting together this set of tokens,
every bag of tokens that you get comes with one red Merlin, which means that any point
during the meeting, you can throw that down and the meeting is immediately over.
>> We're done here. >> MANN: We're done here, thank you very much.