At &yet, we’ve used a lot of different project management tools for our work building web software for human people.
If you’re like us, it’s always hard to find one collaboration tool that “fits” and really helps you get things done. One day we realized:
Project management tools are primarily great at managing things you’re going to do later. They’re planning tools, not doing tools. To manage the work you're doing, you need completely different tools.
Personally, when I’ve used project management tools like Basecamp or issue management tools like FogBugz and GitHub Issues, I’ve often felt overwhelmed about the size and guilty about what’s still broken or left to do. I always get distracted and it seems like there’s a significant amount of busy work associated with maintaining the right workflow for the most trivial things, which makes me unfairly frustrated with the tool.
That’s not a good mental state for me to work from—and you probably feel the same way.
So we said, “Let’s strip away all of the future-looking tools from our daily workflow and focus on right now.”
We’re big believers in using the right tool for the job—in our software, in our communication, and planning. We don’t do much without asking things like, “why are we doing it this way?” and “is this really the best approach?” (This makes me especially pleased to work with some of my favorite people to argue with, by the way. The productive disagreements we’ve had over big-picture and fine-grained details have repeatedly proven valuable.)
So when we discovered that most of the tools we considered for focusing on “now” were inadequately bloated for that specific task, we decided to throw away all our tools and go to a paper process that looked like this:
Each person would write the work they needed to actually finish on Post-It notes—all clearly measurable as to whether the item was "done" or not and at whatever granularity was useful for communication to team members. We put the notes up on a grid with our names. Whichever items we were working on at the moment, we would just take off grid and stick them to our doors as a way of indicating what we were working on.
We found it to be more effective and straightforward than any method we used to date. It worked with whatever other software our team used for bug-tracking and backlogging. And it was completely flexible.
Except for one thing—sometimes we didn't work from the office. We needed to take the same simple approach and put it online.
So that's what we did with And Bang.
It’s so hard to finish things, isn't it?
And it's just as hard to stay on the same page with your team. I find it to be a constant Catch-22: how do you balance your desire to not interrupt your teammates with your need to know?
Checkins and stand-ups and scrums are fine, but sometimes they're not necessary, sometimes schedules don't align, and I know I always feel like I suddenly remember most of what I needed to communicate 30 minutes after we're done meeting.
Call another meeting? Send an email or IM? Poke your head in? None of those options are awesome.
It's frustrating—and the tragedy is that it's always simple stuff that gets in the way. “Are you going to fix that bug today?” “Did you review that email?” “Wait, you haven't started that yet?” “Oh, you didn’t even catch that I was asking you to do that?” “What? You're already finished?”
With And Bang, we stripped everything down to the basics: “What are you working on right now?” and “What does your short list look like?”
Then, for additional communication, we added notifications when a team member has finished something, plus the ability to chat together as a team.
In building And Bang 2.0, we listened carefully to our customers and stayed focused on the core of the simple product they love.
We very strongly didn’t want to go overboard and unintentionally make a simple product more overwhelming by adding a huge number of features and complexity. If anything, we wanted to make things simpler and clearer.
We’ve focused on turning And Bang from a simple tool into a simple tool and powerful platform, extending its reach, dramatically increasing its power and flexibility, and unlocking an immense amount of potential for integration into all the other tools you already use to get your work done and communicate.
We’re excited to share And Bang 2.0 with you soon and this month we plan on sharing a ton of what we've learned in building it.
We’ll be giving away some beta invites later this month to folks who sign up, so add your email to be one of the first to try And Bang 2.0.
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