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Hierarchy of spaces, default to meeting, rolling out career frameworks 💡
Monday Ideas — Edition #61
Hey, Luca here! Welcome to the Monday Ideas 💡
Every Monday I will send you an email like this with 3 short ideas about making great software, working with humans, and personal growth.
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1) 🧘 A Hierarchy of Spaces
Last month I spoke with my friend Jean about productivity vs carving out space for yourself.
She told me about a time, years ago, when she felt extremely exhausted and didn’t want to engage in creative things anymore. She always thought of herself as a creative person, so she wondered: maybe I am not creative anymore?
Over time she realized that her need for creativity and self-expression would still emerge, but there were other needs and spaces that had to be fulfilled before she could go to the next level.
So she came up with a hierarchy of spaces, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
🟣 Space to not be exhausted — this is about your basic needs, like good sleep and eating well. Even basic needs can be challenging with young kids and demanding work, but if you don’t take care of those, you can’t move up to the next level.
🔴 Space to do whatever — this is about giving yourself the permission to spend some unproductive time. Like watching Netflix, or doing absolutely nothing.
🟡 Space to enjoy — only once you have some spaciousness to do whatever, you can engage in activities you like and enjoy doing. These might be games, hobbies, and anything that makes you happy.
🟢 Space to be creative — this is about activities that let you express yourself in a way that is uniquely you. Jean believes that true creativity can only emerge once you have satisfied your other spaces.
You can find the full chat with Jean here 👇
2) 🪜 How to roll out a career framework
Rolling out a new career framework is tricky because people are very personally and directly affected by it.
In my experience, a good rollout starts with a good creation process. This is true for pretty much anything that is company-wide: OKRs, career frameworks, remote policies, etc.
The challenge of such processes is that they should strike the right balance between being participated by the team (bottom-up) and following the vision of the leadership (top-down).
⬇️ Top-down direction delivers consistency and fast decision-making.
⬆️ Bottom-up contribution makes things grounded with your team’s reality, creates consensus, and leads to better decisions in the end.
So, I am a fan of the W Framework for this, created by Lenny Rachitsky and Nels Gilbreth. It is made up of four steps:
Context: Leadership shares a high-level strategy with Teams
Plans: Teams respond with proposed plans
Integration: Leadership integrates into a single plan, and shares with Teams
Buy-in: Teams make final tweaks, confirm buy-in, and get rolling
This is a generic strategy that you can apply to pretty much anything that requires wide participation.
What does it look like for a career framework? Here is a possible implementation:
Context: Leadership provides high level direction: fundamental levels and tracks based on current team composition and future strategy.
Plans: Teams (e.g. your senior leaders) come back with the qualities and responsibilities they would like to see for the various levels.
Integration: Leadership challenges, integrates these elements and shares back with teams.
Buy-in: Final tweaks, Q&A + people get assigned to the levels.
More ideas on creating and executing career frameworks 👇
3) 📑 Default to meeting vs default to docs
Meetings, though expensive, are very easy to summon. You don't need any particular process: you create an event on the calendar and invite the relevant people.
That's why they become the easy default.
Any async/written counterpart, instead, needs work to be set up. If you want to make async the new default, you should design it to be as effortless and reliable as meetings.
How do you understand if what you have in place today is good enough? Ask yourself a couple of questions:
📑 Documentation — if you want to create a doc about some specs/information, how easy is it to do? Do you know where to put it? How confident you are that it will be found by other people and used in the future?
🤝 Decisions — if you need to converge with others on something, do you have a reliable place to do it in written form? Do you trust this place not to get lost and to be referenced in the future?
Good answers to these questions are the result of hard, deliberate work that builds up over time. So even if you feel you are not there yet, don't get discouraged and keep working on it!
You can find more ideas to reduce meetings in this previous article 👇
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