I am in awe of people like Ron Conway, who responds in less than two minutes. Marc Andreessen, who responds in less than five. Eric Schmidt even has guidelines for productive email behaviors. I discovered a workflow to manage email long ago and even argue email is a success benchmark.
Does this mean I like email? No. I doubt Ron Conway, Marc Andreessen, and Eric Schmidt like email too. They simply work with what they have and probably open to alternative methods of communication — case in point, Andreessen-Horowitz is an investor in Slack.
So why am I so excited Slack? Well, I’m not going to lie. The first time I used Slack I wrote it off as another collaboration tool. And I’ve used them all. Google (docs, Hangouts, talk, etc.), Basecamp, Yammer, Dropbox, even Microsoft Office Comminicator <– LOL.
Basecamp is a great project management tool and serves its purpose functioning like a fancy To-Do list. But the interface is a tad outdated where every new subject, To-Do is a new thread, and gets messy really fast. Project managers need to spend time keeping everything clean and organized.
Google products are great for real-time collaboration. Docs, spreadsheets, etc. But again, it’s hard to keep track of everything and keep documents organized. It’s also not built for collaboration and communication.
Internal chat services like Yammer, have been more of a distraction then a productivity tool. I have a theory it’s because Yammer positioned themselves as ‘an enterprise social network’ vs a utility. I even worked at a company where they shut Yammer down because it was such a distraction.
The user experience alone makes it stand out from the crowd. This is a screen shot from one of the projects I’m working on — a lot of it is pixelated out for obvious reasons but I hope you can get the gist of it.
Projects are organized as channels and channels function like a chat room and newsfeed in one.
Files can be easily uploaded or pasted, locally or from a third party service. Each file is like another thread, so you can interact with it and the main feed doesn’t turn into a mess.
Their search is on a whole ‘nother level… Slack searches within other services like Dropbox, Google Docs, or any other third party services you connect Slack to and the technical elements are on par with Google search… I can go on and on praising the outstanding features and functions.
But what catapults Slack into a league of its own is cross-device functionality. Slack doesn’t seem to be built ‘mobile first’ or ‘desktop first’ but just a product built to work the same whether you’re on your phone, computer, tablet, etc. I’ve procrastinated responding to Basecamp or Google Doc notifications because it’s such a hassle from my phone. Slack, I respond right away because it’s really *that* seamless. It’s so seamless, it’s reminiscent of SMS or chat apps. (Sidenote: I’ve mentioned several times, since moving to Asia, chat apps have significantly reduced email)
Then, there’s the transparency factor. It’s a shame ‘transparency’ is now a buzzword, but it became a buzzword for good reason. When working with other people, miscommunication is the biggest reason for disappointments. Setting and managing expectations, productivity, execution, delivering, etc., everything ties into communication. When there is a constant stream of conversation that is easily searchable, accessible, and every communication happens in one place, it prevents miscommunication and empowers people to well, get shit done. A fully searchable company brain is invaluable.
Slack is killing email. And for the life of me, don’t get why more people aren’t talking about it. Or better yet, using it.