Why we built Goshido

Posted on 07. Apr, 2011 by ger in New Ways to Work, Product

Goshido is a labour of love that was born of frustration – a frustration that many people share.

Juggling Projects in Intel

I was a software architect working on a large project in Intel and our new chip was just spluttering into life. Engineers in Ireland, USA (Massachusetts & Arizona) and India were working day and night to keep the project moving. I arrived into the office one morning, picked up a tea in the canteen and headed for my desk. As my laptop woke, I sipped some tea. As Outlook synced new emails from the server, I checked the share price on Yahoo Finance, +15c. I wondered how the testing had gone in Phoenix over the weekend.

My mood imploded. 253 unread emails in my inbox. Groan.

Inbox Zero

At the time, I was trying Merlin Mann’s excellent inbox zero technique, so I set to work triaging my emails.

Inbox zero suggests you skim each email and decide if it’s an action, information or noise. If it’s actionable and easy to do – do it. If it’s actionable and takes a bit longer, mark it for later processing. If it’s not actionable, delete it or archive it.

Sometimes it can be hard to categorize an email. Some emails drag on and on with the action is hidden in the third last paragraph. To be honest, I wandered off track, spent at least 20 minutes writing a reply to an email about another project before I remembered inbox zero. 2 hours, 8 minutes later I was at inbox zero and I had 16 emails marked as actionable. The good news: the testing had gone well in Phoenix. The bad news: my brain was fried by all of the context switches as I lurched from one email to the next. I needed another cup of tea.

A Universal Problem

This tale of woe is repeated in offices and workplaces around the world every day. Email is really just a symptom of the problem. Most people are juggling many chunks of work at the same time, don’t communicate about them effectively, get distracted by the urgent stuff, and veer away from the important. Tension escalates. Groups try to remedy this by spending time in meetings or writing status reports or crafting even more emails.

Over the years I’ve worked in big companies and tiny companies and the problem affects both in different ways. While big companies might have many people on a project, small companies tend to have many small informal projects.

What about tool X?

Over the years I’d tried many many tools: web-based collaboration, enterprise social, wikis, project management, and bug-trackers. The web-collaboration tools worked well for projects of moderate size (and small numbers of them). The wikis and enterprise social tools worked well for sharing information, not so good for coordinating action. The project management and bug trackers worked well for engineers but saw low adoption in cross-disciplinary teams.

For one reason or another, the teams I worked with, abandoned the new tool and drifted back to emails and shared documents/spreadsheets.

Techniques that work

Despite these tools issues, I’ve tried interesting techniques like Scrum (a form of agile project management), GTD (a brilliant personal productivity technique by David Allen), and mindfulness. However the tools for these techniques are either specific to a domain (like software development), for individuals (not teams), or non-existent. Some of the projects I worked on achieved significant successes with Scrum, using nothing more than a truck-load of post-its and a sense of humor.

So that’s why we’ve built Goshido – a cloud platform that can help you (and the people you work with):

  • Focus on doing the things that matter
  • Communicate with clarity about actions
  • Complete massive projects (or 100s of informal ones)

Next steps

So if you feel overwhelmed by all the work coming at you, and you’ve tried lots of other tools and found them wanting, try something different:
Try Goshido (free trial)

We hope you find Goshido as useful as we do, and if you do, be sure to let us know.

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