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A podcast about the design, development, and business of great software. Each week thoughtbot's Chad Pytel and Lindsey Christensen are joined by the people who build and nurture the products we love.

Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots thoughtbot

    • Technologie

A podcast about the design, development, and business of great software. Each week thoughtbot's Chad Pytel and Lindsey Christensen are joined by the people who build and nurture the products we love.

    394: Creating a Remote Culture That Thrives

    394: Creating a Remote Culture That Thrives

    Chad and Lindsey talk about how the pandemic has changed "normal" remote work and how thoughtbot has dealt with the transition from being majoritively in-person to fully remote, plus the impact it's had on both employees and clients.


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    Transcript:


    CHAD: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel.


    LINDSEY: And I’m your other host, Lindsey Christensen. We’re back. Chad, I've only seen you pixelated for over a year now.


    CHAD: I know.


    LINDSEY: Can you believe it?


    CHAD: It's hard to believe. I haven't seen anybody that I work with [laughs] not pixelated for over a year now.


    LINDSEY: It seems normal now.


    CHAD: Yeah, it seems normal, except when you think about it, and you realize how long it's been. We're going to talk about remote work today, and I think that that's something to keep in mind, which is what we're doing now isn't normal remote work. We can make the best of it and that kind of thing, but it's obviously different than normal remote work when you can actually have a social life outside of work and meet people and get together in person to kick off new projects or to be like, “Let's have a retreat or whatever.” So right off the top, we should acknowledge that we're not in this normal period, and this isn't necessarily normal remote work.


    LINDSEY: Right. Which is a good thing, I guess, or the optimist in me says remote work can be way better than it is right now because this is quarantining work. [chuckles]


    CHAD: Right. So for those who don't know, thoughtbot made the decision to go remote-first work from anywhere. And we touched on it in the previous two episodes a little bit, and that's what we're going to be talking about today. And I think that that's one of the things that made us confident in the direction was that things aren't great now, but they're certainly not bad. And the majority of the team felt good about what was happening now, even given all of the downsides. It gave us the confidence to look ahead and say, “Can this be even better, and will it be okay?” And I think that's part of what gave us the confidence to move forward.


    LINDSEY: I saw this interesting stat, and this was actually from a while ago, last July 2020. Gartner did a survey of company leaders, and 80% plan to allow employees to work remotely, at least part of the time after the pandemic, and 47% will allow people to work full-time from home, which is even a bigger percentage than I anticipated. But I think it speaks to the major change that everyone's seeing. We've all learned that remote work can work. I saw another stat that was, I think, no companies are reporting a reduction in productivity because of remote work, and in 27% of cases, companies feel like they're being even more productive.


    CHAD: We didn't not do this before because we didn't think it would be productive on a day-to-day basis or that we didn't believe in the ability to work remotely working. There were a couple of important points that caused us to choose the direction we did; the first one being we went through a period of time where we were a hybrid remote or about half the team was remote, and the other half was working in an office in Boston. And it felt hard and mediocre and something we couldn't -- It wasn't worth the amount of effort we would need to invest in making that work well. It just didn't seem worth it. And so we made the decision to -- And I think this is the way thoughtbot works like we've got to make intentional decisions in a lot of things that we do and half measures don't really satisfy us over the long-term. And so there was this feeling back then of we either need to decide to go completely remote, or we need to all be in person. And because we work locally with clients, that pushed us in the direction of well, we really like working with

    • 48 Min.
    393: Reaffirming Values and Taking thoughtbot Remote

    393: Reaffirming Values and Taking thoughtbot Remote

    Chad and Lindsey take listeners behind the scenes and go deep into the nitty-gritty of recent thoughtbot company changes driven by the pandemic and the organization's need (and desire!) to go fully remote – all while reaffirming and revisiting the organization's values, mission, and purpose as part of the process.


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    Transcript:


    CHAD PYTEL: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel.


    LINDSEY CHRISTENSEN: And I'm your other host, Lindsey Christensen. And we're back. Thanks for tuning in.


    CHAD: We've missed you.


    LINDSEY: Yes. We’ve been kind of busy.


    CHAD: We've been busy, and we knew we were going to take a break after the last season. We didn't necessarily know for quite how long, and then a whole bunch of stuff happened, which we're going to tell you about today. From the last episode, you heard about the change to the thoughtbot CEO, and we alluded to some changes that we've made to the company. And we're going to talk about those today.


    LINDSEY: Yeah. And in true thoughtbot Giant Robots fashion, we’ll go behind the scenes and give you the nitty-gritty of why things happened and how it's going because it's all really interesting.


    CHAD: Yeah. I think on the surface, it's really easy to think about how maybe these changes have been entirely driven by the need to go remote or the desire to go remote. And the reality was that's an important part of it, but it really was so much more than that. Some of these changes that we've made are ones we've been talking about for a long time. And it wasn't until almost a year of operating in a different way that we said, “We need to make some of these changes in order to accommodate remote and working from anywhere.” And we fell back on a lot of other problems we needed to solve along the way.


    LINDSEY: So we actually decided to break out remote work into its own episode, which will be the next episode. And I'm sure it's going to come up today, but it's a whole other area of changes and focus, whereas some of the reorg changes that we just underwent solved a lot or are trying to solve a number of challenges that we've been working on over the years. So I guess to start off, before we reorganized, how did we function? And that was largely geographically based.


    CHAD: Yeah. And the geographic basis means that we had a studio in a city, and in that studio, we offered the complete thoughtbot services. And that was driven by this idea back in 2012 when we started to expand. Prior to that, we really held the company to less than 30 people. And we were primarily a group of people all in one location working together, and we were all of what thoughtbot was. And we really liked that. We liked the structure. But people wanted to move and live somewhere else. And our purpose is that we believe that there's a better way to work. And we want to share it with as many people as possible, although we've revised that purpose now as part of this process. And so I really remember the day we were having a company meeting, and someone stood up and said, “If we really believe we have a better way to work, why are we not trying to bring it to more people? Why are we losing these great team members only because they want to live somewhere else?” But we also really liked the small, close-knit team of people who worked closely together on client work. We had done some client projects that were split across teams and across time zones and that kind of stuff. And it just didn't feel as good as we wanted it to feel, especially because it was hybrid.


    And so we said, “We know exactly what a great thoughtbot looks like. Instead of trying to expand what that great thoughtbot looks like, let's try to replicate it instead.” And so when someone wanted to move to a new city, we said, “That’s great.” We looke

    • 1 Std. 5 Min.
    392: Better Together with New CEO of thoughtbot, Diana Bald

    392: Better Together with New CEO of thoughtbot, Diana Bald

    Chad is joined by Diana Bald, the new CEO of thoughtbot, to discuss her background, the organizational changes to the leadership of the company, and the reasoning behind them.



    Diana on Twitter


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    Transcript:


    CHAD PYTEL: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Chad Pytel. And today, I'm joined by the new CEO of thoughtbot, Diana Bald. Thanks for joining me, Diana.


    DIANA BALD: Hi, Chad. This is so fun. This is so exciting. I've only done one podcast before this, so I'm excited.


    CHAD: Well, don't worry. You can still be CEO of thoughtbot even if you're not a podcaster. [laughter]


    DIANA: Okay, that's great to know.


    CHAD: So it's been several months now. So I want to go back and talk about how we arrived here. But I'm curious, how are you feeling now? What does it feel like?


    DIANA: It feels great. I think I'm getting more and more comfortable every day, which is amazing. And I think the year has gotten off to a great start, so that's helping me feel more comfortable as well. So far, so good.


    CHAD: So for folks who are listening, I'm sure they're wondering who are you? [chuckles] Let's give the audience a little peek into your background and how you arrived at thoughtbot, and the role you originally had.


    DIANA: Great. How far back do you want me to go?


    CHAD: As far as back as you're comfortable.


    DIANA: Okay. I actually was really interested in technology at a younger age. I put myself through undergrad and grad school while I was doing tech roles. I trained lawyers on how to move from the analog world into the digital world. That was one of my very first jobs at a law firm. And then, shortly after that, I did webmaster work when I was putting myself through MBA school. It was a very different world than it is now. This is way back when the internet was really just kicking off; it was 1998 to 2001, around that time. When I graduated from MBA school, I was recruited into Univision into their leadership pipeline, which was very much focused on business development. But my very first project there was web integration, integrating the univision.com with their TV and radio. That was when I started to move away from technology. I was there for ten years. I had a variety of different roles, a really fun job. I got to experience a lot of different roles, lived in a lot of different cities. I spent a lot of time in Philadelphia, where I actually launched a television station in Spanish, which was really fun. And then I came to New York.


    After Univision, I spent four years in the advertising and marketing world. I spent two years with IPG at ID Media, which was a direct marketing agency. And then two years at MDC Partners at an agency called TargetCast, which later became Assembly, which was more media buying and planning. And then, when I left there, I went to Liberty Mutual for three years. And at Liberty Mutual, I fell back in love with technology. I missed it. I was doing a lot of strategic partnership opportunities with really interesting companies that were doing brand new business models and disrupting insurance, and there was a lot of exposure to telematics and IoT. And it was just calling me back, and I was like, I got to get back to tech. And somehow, I don't recall exactly how, but I found you. You and I chatted, and then I fell in love with thoughtbot [chuckles], and then after that, the rest is history.


    CHAD: You joined us as the Managing Director of the New York City studio. I want to say that was a position we were advertising for, and you applied to it.


    DIANA: Yeah.


    CHAD: And one of the things that really stood out when I first met you and as we've got to know each other and work together is the variety of experience that you had because I've only ever done what I do, which has its own strengths. So the fact that I started freelancing w

    • 37 Min.
    Values - ShearShare

    Values - ShearShare

    Chad and Lindsey talk with Courtney & Tye Caldwell, Co-founders of ShearShare, discussing culture-fit with new hires, incorporating values into brand-thinking, fostering relationships, and planning for 2021.





    Please take a minute to help guide our next season with your thoughtful feedback on our Giant Robots listener survey.
    Thanks!

    This episode is sponsored by HelloFresh
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    ShearShare
    ShearShare on Instagram


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    • 43 Min.
    Values - Teikametrics

    Values - Teikametrics

    Chad and Lindsey talk with Alasdair McLean-Foreman, CEO & Founder of Teikametrics, discussing the intermingling importance of mission, vision, and values.




    Please take a minute to help guide our next season with your thoughtful feedback on our Giant Robots listener survey.
    Thanks!





    Teikametrics
    Blitzscaling- Reid Hoffman
    Jeff Weiner - CS183 at Stanford
    Dunbar's number
    Previous Netflix Culture Deck
    Alasdair on LinkedIn


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    • 40 Min.
    Values - Nurse-1-1

    Values - Nurse-1-1

    Chad and Lindsey are joined by Michael Sheeley, founder & CEO of Nurse-1-1, to discuss crafting values with purpose, living those values in the product's messaging & marketing, choosing not to publicly publish them, and what the landscape of healthcare looks like going into 2021.





    Please take a minute to help guide our next season with your thoughtful feedback on our Giant Robots listener survey.
    Thanks!

    This episode is sponsored by HelloFresh
    Enter code ROBOTS90 to get a total of $90 off, including free shipping!






    Nurse-1-1
    Michael on Twitter
    Nurse-1-1 on Instagram


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    • 41 Min.

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