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Recently we tried something new at Treehouse and it’s working wonderfully well, so I thought I’d share the secret with you.
We recently crossed the invisible it’s-impossible-to-communicate-effectively line. The strange place where it feels like you’re small enough as a company not to have ‘communication procedures’ but large enough that somehow everyone is no longer on the same page (and misinformation spreads like wildfire). For us, that number was around 30 employees. We’re at 53 now, so it was time for a new strategy.
Previously, we used Campfire as our ‘water cooler’. The place we’d hang out and chat about stupid stuff, random news, celebrations, etc. This was really important because we have a distributed team across the World, so we couldn’t rely on physical interactions to boost morale and communication.
The problem is that if you miss a conversation in Campfire, it can be difficult to go back and figure out what happened. The lack of threading, comments and up/down votes makes it very difficult to decipher what’s worth reading and what’s just random banter. Everything has the same importance in a chatroom.
In an email thread about this issue, Jim brought up the idea of building an internal Reddit-clone. He cranked it out in a couple days, called in Convoy (because the movie is full of awesome) and here’s what it looks like …
The idea is simple: If it’s not actionable or urgent, post it to Convoy. Here’s the general guidelines:
- Phone or Google Hangout: Need an answer immediately
- IM: Need an answer in the next hour
- Email: Need an answer in next day or two
- Convoy: No answer required
Jim even built in a bit of gamification with points and user activity streams …
We still use Campfire for quick banter that’s too transient for Convoy. The Developers and Designers live in Campfire and really use it as a hive-mind. The rest of us though tend to abuse Hubot a bit in Campfire but leave the real discussions and random posts for Convoy.
We don’t have any rules about having to check Convoy or Campfire. It’s all about how much each person wants to stay connected. If they’re feeling out of the loop or disconnected, Convoy is a fun and easy way to jump back in.
Now that we’ve been using Convoy for a couple weeks, I definitely feel a palpable difference in the company culture. We’re more connected and everyone is having a chance to weigh in on discussions. Previously, you’d see these huge email threads about topics that may or may not interest you. Now email is less noisy and a lot of the discussions are happening in Convoy. Email is preserved for actionable items, which is great.
In conclusion, I’d highly recommend using an internal Reddit-clone so that your Team has a chance to discuss non-urgent/non-actionable topics or just offer encouragement or distraction. We love it.