An hour a day keeps entropy at bay.

Written January 13th, 2009 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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Keeping a company focused is quite challenging, especially a dynamic one like ours.  There are an infinite number of things to be done and, by definition, never enough time to get them done in. 

To add to the excitement, we have the second law of physics conspiring against us by telling us that:

"the total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value"


Where entropy has the particularly relevant definition for us of:

"a measure of the unavailability of a system to do work."


So there you have it.  Too much to do, too little time to do it in and left alone we'll spin our wheels forever.  So what's a company to do?  Two things.  Set crisply defined goals that unify the company and put energy in to maintaining that focus.

Our goals are fairly simple:

  1. Do no harm – our #1 priority is to make sure that our paying customers are happy.  Our entire business model revolves around their renewal so it behooves us to keep those website visits productive ones.  The enthusiasm with which our clients provide references for us and the rate at which they renew are the metrics we use for this goal.  So far so good!
  2. Sustainable growth – while growth is exciting, we can't grow at the expense of our life balance,  outside of our financial means, or at the expense of our customer base (see goal #1). We've set quarterly goals for new client implementations and for the past two quarters we're right on target and things are looking good for this one as well!

Our goals keep us focused, but how do we fend off entropy?  We've recently introduced a "5P" system into our daily standup meeting that seems to be doing the trick.

Every day (almost) between the hours of 8:30-9:30 AM EST b2b2dot0's Executive Management team get on a Skype call to discuss the following topics in order.  The order is important because if we run out of time we want to make sure we've dealt with the most important topics first.

Production – any errors trapped, incidents logged, surveys or emails submitted?  All performance monitors in the green?  If not, make sure we have an owner and plan for each negative occurrence.
Projects – survey our client implementation projects and surface any risks or obstacles to progress.
Pipeline – review the movement of prospects in and out of our pipeline and glean any learnings about the market, our product, competition etc. Coordinate our efforts to make sure our prospects are getting all of the information they need to make informed decisions about using our service.
Product – this quarter's theme is Account Status.  All systems "go" to getting to our first focus group?  Any new items to put on (or prioritize) our product backlog thanks to any of the previous three "P"s?

Process – We always uncover a process that has waste in it that could be cleaned up with a little bit of energy.  Last week we instituted a corporate Milestone calendar that helps us get a view of important events in our near future.  We also designed a handoff process with our flash catalog vendor that reduces defects in the production process.

It takes a lot of discipline to be Agile!