Think about the company as your best product

If you’re working for a company you may find part of it is broken.

It may be something with an existing process, it may be a new process that is lacking, it may be an existent policy (e.g. you’re not allowed to work from home) or a policy that is lacking or that you don’t agree with.

It’s easy to say “Get out there and fix it.” but it’s easier said than done.

I wasn’t really thinking about this at all until @s3rgiosan pointed out that we should have a team handbook at WidgiLabs. At first I couldn’t really grasp why we would need such a thing. I mean I was inspired by Valve’s employee handbook for example.. but I didn’t really see the point in doing something like that for our team.

I decided anyway to give it a try and forked Humanmade’s handbook and started making changes to it and documenting everything around how I see our team working. I must say that after a while it really started to grow on me. And I started to like writing it.  It was like doing a brain dump of a bunch of ideas on improving our way of doing things that I had lying around in my mind and that I never put in pencil before. Better than that it was also a way to document how we are organized and refer to when needed.

I also wanted to make it simple for our team to be involved in improving our company and since we do code reviews using pull requests I thought using the same process to track/propose changes to our company’s handbook would make sense. This allows:

1) everyone to track changes to the company (systems, guidelines, processes, procedures, ..);

2) everyone can contribute with improvements to how the company works and is set up;

Now, what I found, is that not everyone will naturally start contributing and improving the handbook (which in turn can improve the company). They might feel it’s the CEO/Management/etc responsibility rather than theirs. Especially if there isn’t a plan of how much time they should spend on it. Or they may simply want to stay out of it. And that’s ok. Not everyone likes to think about such things. Not everyone needs to be involved in everything. What’s important is that the handbook stays a work-in-progress, evolving as the company evolves and new stuff is added when necessary, and defunct stuff cleaned.

I was also listening to DHH interview with Tim Ferris this week and came across the idea “think about the company as your best product“. I think that’s exactly what I’m trying to do here. It is definitely an inspiring thought to me and I find it liberating that anyone can be involved in creating/shaping a great company.

Life Design

they don't teach it in school
but it is the most important skill in life:
deliberate design of a life that is fun, rewarding, rich, heathly and worth living.
CANI – constant and never ending improvement
#neversettle #stayinghungry #lifestyledesign

WP Growth Council

As you’ve likely seen Matt Mullenweg has announced the creation of a new WordPress Growth Council, a group of people and organizations that will focus on accelerating WordPress’ growth in the next months. To apply you have to fill a survey and answer a number of questions. I want to share some of my answers here:

What do you think is responsible for WordPress’ success so far?

Beautiful software does things you don’t expect and reduce the effort for the task   in mind. I think WordPress is in this category. 
Also its open-source model and its architecture based on core+plugins+themes and the capacity to  update, etc. It makes an excellent base to develop websites, online stores and web-based applications.

What could accelerate WordPress’ growth in the next 18 months?

A strong focus in the following key areas:

1) Productivity: there is a ton of data we as a community need to gather, analyze and use to improve the way people interact with WordPress. 

2) Neutralization: as a community we need to look at what / how competitors are doing things, draw conclusions about what they are doing well and..  you guess it: copy them. 

3) Differentiation: invest in the development of new features, products and services for new customer segments that are currently being neglected with WordPress. 

4) Education/Training/Certification/Masterclasses: More focus on professional training events and developer/user education;

5) Events that foster the development of  new WordPress based products and services;

What do you think is the best response to the $300M+/yr Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, et al are spending in advertising?

As important as advertising is.. a lot of businesses struggle and fail, not because they aren’t adding new users, but because they are lousy at keeping the ones they’ve got. We have to look at ourselves and see where we are loosing users rather than just deseperately try to reach new ones. Most people use things based on referrals.

While coming out of a WordCamp with thousands of WordPress geeks it’s easy to forget most people don’t know about WordPress and for the ones that do there is a huge percentage that can’t tell the difference between .com vs .org or the 3 main benefits of going with a self-hosted WordPress.

Why Attend WordCamps

While I’m at Vienna for WordCamp Europe I decided to share a few thoughts around what we are all here to do as a way to remind myself and others why we attend WordCamps. Here it goes, in no particular order:

Keep up with emerging trends — Attending conferences is a great way to get practical tips, keep up with emerging trends, and to meet other people doing amazing things.

Networking — You’ll probably find not just WordPress lovers but also Web geeks passionate about everything surrounding the Web. This is a great opportunity to meet new people and perhaps even, who knows, find that co-founder/business partner you’re looking for. It’s ok to skip a few sessions and just hang out at the Happiness bar or in the halls.

Learn — Be introduced to various new concepts and techniques. Various techniques for leveraging even more of WordPress are presented. How to secure WordPress, how to scale, optimize, improve, contribute, etc are covered in the different tracks.

Get Excited — Working on the Web presents many challenges and is becoming increasing more complex and more exciting. Mobile phones and retina displays are among the many things that are giving website owners more concerns they need to address, and discussion is hot right now about what are the best tools and techniques to be used.

Get better and better with WordPress — By end of the WordCamp you’ll probably feel your WordPress knowledge has increased a great deal.

How about you? Why do you attend WordCamps?

Quixotical Behaviours

Introducing a brand new hashtag today called #quixotical. Here is the definition:

“ In the context of a team, an adjective to characterize something done by a person that doesn’t take into account the rest of the team.”

Example usage:

Simone: we don’t have auto pull on our staging environment.

Ryan: that is #quixotical

Other examples include:

– not having different staging/production environments for the team to test and deploy changes;

– using manual deployment

– manually using ftp to move files and the WordPress admin area to install plugins by hand;

– not using VVV to allow every developer on the team to have the same project setup;

– not using version control;

etc.

p.s. You can also use quixotic — idealistic without regard to practicality.