Managing in flow

Three stories to convince you to stop thinking in terms of discrete meetings, tasks, and problems, and start thinking about a continuous flow.

Working in a flow state means that distractions fall away and you're able to focus on your most challenging and valuable projects. Flow unlocks high achievement and a greater sense of fulfillment. But it's often characterized in activities done alone: programming, writing, running long distances.

Wouldn't flow be more powerful if we did it together? When you work and communicate asynchronously, you're creating the conditions of flow. In an ongoing thread that combines the work itself with communication, updates are more casual, more frequent, and decisions are reached faster, without interrupting your day.

A few personal stories to highlight how to work together async and in flow:

1. Bring your own thinking to a brainstorm

The team breaks out into small groups to decide what to build at the next offsite. The squads draw from a big list of options, and brainstorm asynchronously. Managers narrow down their choices. What could have taken endless in-person meetings is decided on in a few written messages, some reaction emojis, and a "Resolved with decision" button.

2. Make meetings about growth, not tasks

Mike, our VP of product, wants to clarify a task he has assigned to a designer in his team. They have a 1:1 later that day, but he doesn't wait to deliver the message. Based in the French Alps, he sends a video over to Ani, who's in Buenos Aires. She sees the video when she signs in that morning, and incorporates his feedback into her work right away. They then use the 1:1 to discuss Ani's career goals, her first few months at the company, and how she's settling in.

3. Check in frequently and personally

Pierre, our CTO, works with sixteen engineers, who are arranged in different squads and live around the world. He misses the friendly ambience of previous jobs, where he could catch up with colleagues when they walked by each other in the office. So every day he sends a couple voice notes to other engineers, just to check in, ask what they're eating for lunch and what they're working on that day. At the end of the day, around 5pm, he reserves a bit of time for social-only calls.

From stop-and-start to continuous conversations

Managing "in flow" means that discussions about tasks and projects happen in the context of the work itself, as-it's-happening. It means higher responsibility for contributors, and easier problem solving for managers. It's faster to unblock, debug, and move on. This doesn't just lead to quick decision-making, but also better-informed decisions.

As more conversations happen in ongoing threads and discussions, the accumulation of information creates an arc, a sense of continuity and progress, a means of understanding why we're working on what we're working on, and how we want to proceed in the future. Discover the best way to do this for a product requirements document.

It separates employees' clear and focused work needs, from social and career development needs. By organizing these channels, you can de-risk task management while building strong relationships across your team.

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