Silicon Valley startups flourish with management 'Snippets'

Credit: flickr/Bitterjug

The productivity hack startups use to manage without managers? Short, shared to-do lists.

Startups, particularly in Silicon Valley, are full of developers and creators, but mercifully short on traditional managers. Yet everyone must work together. In "Silicon Valley's Productivity Secret," the folks behind the iDoneThis tool explain how teams can coordinate yet avoid meetings. A short email message from each person says what they just finished, what they are working on, and what they will do next. Publicly announcing your goals provides a strong incentive to fulfill those goals.

Google used this in the early days, with a list from each employee detailing their past, current, and future projects each week. They called the messages Snippets, and others copied them. Facebook uses a system called Colbert. These messages coordinate teams without meetings and traditional heavy-handed management. For the professional managers out there, if it makes you feel better, call these OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). The geeks will call them Snippets.

Genius

Snippets are (1) emails, sent to (2) everyone on your team, (3) weekly, and contain (4) last week's accomplishments and this week's goals.

snprbob86 on news.ycombinator.com

We use them daily to ensure that everyone is working on the correct priorities and to see if anyone has any roadblocks or questions that someone on the team can help with.

adam feber on idonethis.com

Recently I have been on a major search to find the key to being as productive as possible at work. Other than my 25-45min burst of knocking out a todo item I think this will be perfect.

Jess Brown on jessbrown.me

Looks like …

Every employee sends an email to the entire company first thing Monday morning, containing their A&Os (Achievements and Objectives).

natfriedman on news.ycombinator.com

sounds like timekeeper to me.

Crkeerl on idonethis.com

I was promptly told that status reports were a sign of a broken company. Apparently, if I'd called them snippets instead, I'd have been applauded for mentioning an innovative business tool?

georgieporgie on news.ycombinator.com

It's done elsewhere too, at least quite similarly. Where I experienced this heavily is quite far away from technology—I was a missionary for the LDS church in the Philippines.

dorian-graph on news.ycombinator.com

We hate meetings

I like the idea of people sending emails and not wasting other people's time if possible.

Matthew Case on idonethis.com

On my previous team, even with 8 people, too much yakking made standups too slow, and indeed you had many people bored just waiting.

jholman on news.ycombinator.com

Feel free to comment on what you accomplished last week, and what you plan to accomplish this week. You will not be held accountable.

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