The Work Chat Trap

Why creating a culture of presenting incomplete ideas stunts innovation.

Every great new idea usually sounds wild at first. That’s why it usually takes a story to really sell the idea.

Simon Sinek told us we needed to Start with Why. Remember the Golden Circle?

If you haven’t seen this, it’s gold.

He taught us to go in this order: “Why, How, What”

Most people skip the Why and that’s the single biggest reason great ideas go to waste internally.

Imagine now, that you only share the What, and not the Why, or the How?

You wouldn’t do that, right?

Turns out many of us do… every day.

When we participate in work chat (like Slack or Teams); there is a rapid fire pace to things, except when there isn’t. When you post something in a channel, It has basically two speeds. Turtle & Rabbit.

Loop Charge GIF

Either almost no one cares or it strikes some kind of chord and then it’s flooded out of sight because NO ONE USES THREADS…

Goat Sloth GIF by Slack

Either way, they are usually only getting the smallest sliver of what the idea actually is.

You may have spent hours planning something big, and are excited to share it with the team. But when you do, people start asking questions and reworking your idea before you’ve fully presented it. Sometimes you may even get vetoed before you’ve made your case.

It’s happened to me.

Why did I not get much engagement on this? After all, I believed this was important enough to present to the team.

I hadn’t fully presented the WHY behind my idea. I hadn’t gotten anyone EXCITED about why solving this problem was a big deal.

The why in this case, is that I want people to have an unmistakably positive feeling when they get a Recess email.

The email I’m referring to here is a weekly email that goes out weekly to all team members from our product. The email’s goal is to give people a one-click, no-login survey for sharing their experience, giving a shoutout to a friend, asking for help, resources, really anything they need.

It’s really an awesome part of the product that creates a lot of immediate value for our customers; and I want the ENTIRE experience around this email people will see every week to be overwhelmingly positive.

Since my idea landed like a lead balloon in Slack, I took the time to write up the business case for this, and shared it as a narrative memo via email.

Why was this so different?

When people read an email, they aren’t (as) able to jump the gun and start tweaking anything before they fully evaluate the sender’s intention by reading the thing.

Goat Typing GIF by Slack

The reaction this time was a bit more aligned with my goals. And to complete the process of the snake eating its own tail, the reply came back through Slack!

Sounds like this improvement will be coming to a Recess account near you sooner than later.

Internal marketing is more than just about the words themselves. Sometimes, the medium is the message.

They said email was dead.
Long live email.

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