Asynchronous communication. how to do it & who can use it w/ Amir Salihefendic, CEO @ Doist
The future of work requires a new way of work, and that's asynchronous. The end of always-on & sitting in pointless real-time meetings. Asynchronous is all about focusing on deep work & long from writing
Here's the recap...In today's episode, we chatted with the king of asynchronous communication, Amir Salihefendić, CEO & Co-founder @ Doist We spoke about how to when, and how companies should use async communication. At what stage/size companies can use async communication. Why Doist created their own tool built for async communication and more. If your team is contemplating using async communication, you'll learn a lot. Amir & Doist have pretty much written the book on the subject.
Asynchronous communication isn't for or limited to a company lifecycle, size, geography
I came in with some previous baggage feeling that async was a great option for larger teams. Smaller teams needed to collaborate and communicate in real-time to get things done. This simply isn't the case. Teams of all sizes, with employees all over the world, are using async as the default option. Hearing Amir speak about it, I started to feel async was more a state of mind. It was the anti-always on approach that many companies sadly employ. At its core is the mindset that when you press send, there's no telling when a reply will come in. More importantly, you don't have an expectation of when a reply should come in. It's more the desire to have a thoughtful and detailed reply than a quick one. With this in mind, we can understand how async can work for a team of 10, 100 or 1000.
Asynchronous communication is built around long-form text
At Doist, the standard medium of communication is long-form writing. It's really an art form. Taking the time and thought to clearly define your message, expectations, deliverables, next steps, and similar. Then stepping back and taking the time to review and edit. Then repeating that again. Ensuring that when pressing send, you've painted a clear picture where the recipient(s) understand the expectations and any requirements of them.
Audio & video has become more popular in this space. Whether leaving audio messages for a colleague or doing a daily stand-up over video. Each person on the team adding their video stand-up to the thread. Doist doesn't yet use much audio or video to collaborate, but it is used in the right time and place.
Async could make your team happier
Async has really come to the forefront of remote conversations the past 6-12 months. So there isn't yet any real data correlating employee happiness to using a sync or async method. That said, some companies that use async as the default like Gitlab, Zapier, & Buffer have extremely low turnover. Yes, these companies are known for leading on culture, but the idea makes perfect sense. A culture that doesn't require your team to be always on & rewards thoughtfulness can only be a good thing.
How the idea of Twist developed
For years, we've been using tools that have created this mindset of always-on. It originally was with emails and needing immediate replies, but has only gotten worse with chat and collaboration tools. The two major culprits being the status color icon & the read receipt. Sadly in a company with a poor culture seeing someone available means, they are open to speaking with you and answering any questions. That also comes with the idea that they'll quickly respond at whatever time it is because they are 'online.' That's made worse when the sender can see the recipient has read their message.
The team at Doist saw this was leading to burnout and decided to go in the opposite direction. Building a tool without addictive behavior. Not knowing if the recipient received the message or if they read it alters your expectation of receiving a response. You stop expecting a response in a few minutes, because they may not read it for a day or two. It also provides that person the ability to respond to you with a thoughtful response, instead of simply getting back to you 'ASAP.'
There's always room for synchronous communication
No team can build a healthy & happy culture with only asynchronous communication. It works in almost all work/meeting cases. It can also work when providing positive feedback; though can't be the only medium positive feedback is given. Where it doesn't work is with the necessity to do team building and engagement. Whether games, movies, yoga, or what have you. Building cohesion and trust within your team requires face to face. At least a virtual face-to-face. It also doesn't work when providing constructive feedback. Words can easily be taken in multiple directions. Without a vocal tone, body language, and more it's pretty easy to misinterpret feedback. So this should always be done synchronously. Finally, when wanting to brainstorm some ideas, a synchronous meeting over a whiteboard tends to be the better option than sharing ideas and feedback asynchronously.
Scott: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. Thank you for tuning in today to another episode of Leading from Afar. I'm Scott Markovits, here with my cohost Tevi Hirschhorn. Tevi. We had a week off from recording. How was that week off?
Tevi: [00:00:11] Busy. Got a lot of stuff done, but doing great. Excited to kick off another episode.
Scott: [00:00:18] Yeah, indeed. So today's going to be a real treat. We're kicking off a new series today about asynchronous communication. What it is, why use it, and the tools to be successful at it. So we're stoked to be joined by we’ll call him the king of async, Amir Salihefendić who is the CEO and co-founder of Doist. Amir has been a long-time passionate advocate about using async communication. So much so that you built a tool for it.
And I think we'll dig into that specifically later. But Amir, usually the way that we start off by telling everybody a little bit more about yourself. I don't think that you really need an introduction but go for it. And a little bit about the origin story of Doist.
Amir: [00:00:57] Sure, thank you for having me here. It's a pleasure. I'm a really asynchronous fanatic. It's a kind of a religion and not for anything else by this point.
So a bit about myself I was born in Bosnia in a small town called
It's where the kingdom of Bosnia was thousands of years ago. It's a super small town. My family lived there for a long time. Then the war came and we had to refugee. We went to Denmark and I grew up in Denmark. Studied there and lived there for most of my life. At some point, I got into programming and creating projects and stuff. And that's how I ended up creating a to-do list for myself. I have basically, created this to do this and kept doing it for over 10 years.
In the beginning, just as a side project, nightly fashion. And at some point, it became a full-time job. And then I built a company around that. And then we also created Twist, which is this asynchronous tool. Our mission Scott, to invent the future of work.
And I don't know a lot of people, they say this it's kind of trendy, but for us, we started with remote first, 10 years ago. With asynchronous first, we started that many years ago as well. I think there's something really fascinating, brewing up in this space.
And I think it will have huge implications for the world. Hopefully also for creating a better world and giving equal opportunities, to people regardless of where they live. Yeah. So honestly, that's something that, I'm very passionate about and excited about. Just to see what are the second-order effects of all of this?
Tevi: [00:02:23] Thank you for sharing. That's awesome. So while a lot of the world has been struggling to figure out remote and many people have embraced it, a lot of managers have struggled with it. Async is a whole new idea. A lot of people have tried to replicate the office environment and face-to-face video meetings remotely. Could you describe what async communication is and maybe with some ground rules?
Amir: [00:02:44] Sure. Sure. Just to step a bit back, I think Chris Dixon has written about this and Chris Dixon is a famous investor. I think he works for is a16z, that famous VC company. Where a lot of times, when you have new technology the thing you will try to do is basically just take the old stuff that you did and just try to port it to the new technology. And we have seen this, I think one of the examples he gives is TV and theaters. So in the beginning the thing you did with TV is basically you recorded the theater, and that was the movie.
Then they found out, oh this is a whole complete new medium that you need to do it very differently. And the same thing is maybe with journalism. If you look at the history of the New York Times. The first New York Times, they basically took pictures of the actual newspaper and posted it online.
I think the same thing happens with synchronous work and asynchronous work. Remote first is the first thing you do is you try to just take, okay, we have an office environment, this is how we work inside an office. Let's just make it digital and move it into the cloud.
And that's it. But what we don't maybe understand is it's a whole different environment. A whole different set of rules. And I think it has huge implications for life. A lot of stuff. Communication, leadership maybe even the people that succeed inside a remote-first asynchronous environment are very different from those that succeed in synchronous, office environments.
And then we come back to asynchronous. The basic concept is actually from computer science. You have synchronous messaging and asynchronous. In synchronous, you send a message and then you expect an answer right away. In asynchronous, you send a message and then you don't expect an answer. The answer might be delayed for a long time. Once you switched to asynchronous as default, it means basically that all the communication, you never actually expect answers right away as a default. So that's the basic concept.
Scott: [00:04:29] Interesting. To highlight something that you said. It's things that we've spoken about. We've heard from other guests on previous episodes about the intentionality of remote work. The biggest mistake that was made over the last year and why I throw it at any reporting or anything that comes from the last year its remote work was never plug and play.
You couldn't take what you did in the office and then do it remotely. Everything needed to be redesigned and really developed for remote in mind, but that's a whole nother tirade I can go on and not the purpose for the show. But the question I have, I know when we've spoken about asynchronous before is there any criteria around the company? Maybe the life cycle, very early stage, later stage, geographical locations. Everyone's on the East coast. Scheduling makes asynchronous more ideal or perhaps less ideal than synchronous communication.
Amir: [00:05:20] I think there's something to know. From what we can see is it works in very small companies, in medium-sized companies, and large companies. Because we have examples of this right now. So you have Gitlab and Automattic, which are asynchronous first organizations.
They are oh, a thousand people. And then you have us that are about a hundred and then you have much smaller companies. I don't think scale matters or the type of work you do matters. We work asynchronously first with everybody, including accountants, lawyers. Most of the communication is done via text.
And of course, it's healthy to have some meetings. And have synchronous calls even just to connect with people and see them. But just as a default way of working, we do that asynchronously with everybody. So I think it can apply to everybody.
I think something that's a misconception about this is sometimes people think we are promoting asynchronous only. And I think asynchronous only does not really work. You lose the human touch and even something I think that's supercritical in remote first, an asynchronous or in my mind is actually meeting people.
So you actually do want to have a retreat where you meet people or you fly out and meet your team. Hang out with your team. Because we are social by nature. So not having that, I think is a huge disadvantage
Tevi: [00:06:35] Interesting. You said something interesting about async. You said how you don't expect a response in async communication. So inherently there's a lag in async. How do you make sure that you're meeting deadlines? How do you make sure you keep momentum?
Amir: [00:06:50] That's a great question, Tevi, and something to know is. I do think you move a bit slower with asynchronous communication. It's not as fast-paced as synchronous. But I also think you have more room to think deeply about something.
So when you actually do come up with an answer, it would maybe be more profound than something that just you fire right away. But it's true. I think for some work, maybe you also need to think about, for instance, let's say that you have an emergency, then it's probably not a very good idea to do it asynchronous regardless of this emergency. Maybe even if you're brainstorming and you really want to have a lot of ideas, maybe it's actually useful to open up fig jam or whatever else people use to just brainstorm stuff and come with ideas.
So I would definitely challenge the idea of only doing asynchronous everything. I think you need to mix in. But yeah as a default way, you lose some speed by doing this
Tevi: [00:07:45] That's interesting. And you're saying embrace that and make sure that you're not going too fast. So that you have some space to think deeply think carefully and you don't measure necessarily that. Do you measure the other way? Make sure you're not going too fast, make sure you're not doing too many face-to-faces.
Amir: [00:08:04] We don't measure that. I think it's the power of the culture that you promote. So yeah. Something that I think is interesting is maybe looking into the studies that have been done on this. So I think Harvard did some studies on this where they basically looked at problem-solving and what is the best method?
The best method is actually, from what I recall is basically that you have actually room to think, and then you meet with others to present. The thinking or the problem-solving. And then you come up with a better solution by doing that. So that's at least how I view this mode is basically.
Then you think you come with something and then we built a better understanding by that. Then just maybe thinking in real-time. Maybe you're more dominating than me and speak more than me. Then my ideas get blocked out of this. There's a lot of implications here that is maybe implied by this way of communicating and thinking.
Scott: [00:08:54] That's an interesting point about domination. You said before that at Doist, you default to a text-based asynchronous communication style. What are your thoughts about audio and video? I know there are lots of great tools for doing a video for let's say, stand-ups or throwing Loom videos back and forth to each other.
Do you guys use audio and video within Doist for some async communication? And is there a right place, a format for it?
Amir: [00:09:19] Yeah Scott, that's an excellent question. And honestly, I think we are just mastering, the written form of asynchronous. But I think asynchronous video and voice have a lot of power as well. We do use a bit of Loom and some people actually do a presentation. We'd Loom an asynchronous presentation.
So it's definitely something that will be more explored in the future. I think it's a very new field. We are just dipping our toes collectively to this space. And even I think from this side, we actually do want to try to explore this.
There are even some cultures, my wife is from Chile I know a bit about the Latin American culture. And they sent a lot of voice messages. I'm just, "why do you do this?" And the same thing I know with Asian people as well they do that.
So even in the consumer space, actually voice messaging is very common. And I think for work that is maybe also going to be present as well. Because with voice emotion becomes much easier to transfer. In texts, it's very easy to actually misunderstand something or you don't really get the tone of the message.
And then, you get mad or you think somebody has insulted you or whatever problems that can arise by this. Video and voice I think are very good on an emotional level. But I still think there's not much that beats a very well-written well-thought-out document that you have spent some hours on crafting. And then you shared this because then your best ideas are presented there.
It's not somebody that's just rambling around and not having a very structured thought or something that. I think the problem with voice and video is that right now, it's just basically used for fast communication where you're not very careful what you're actually saying.
Yeah. And maybe we'll see some tools that can help you create better video and audio content. Yeah.
Tevi: [00:11:06] To touch on what you mentioned. I want to switch gears into the leadership and management portion. How do you make sure that your message is being received? The way you intend that your tone isn't being misunderstood. Especially in a remote async environment.
If somebody just comes to the desk that they're unhappy or upset from something unrelated to work, they could just totally misread something in the wrong tone.
Amir: [00:11:28] That is a very good point Tevi. If I need to deliver some hard feedback, I try to do that via a call. I think that gets very dangerous if you do it in text only, or even worse if you do that in a public forum. We do very little of public shaming. If you need to deliver something hard for a person do it privately. Do it in a call.
So that's at least what it has been our culture from the beginning. I think if you don't do that. Yeah, I've been reflecting a lot on the Basecamp situation. Maybe, that's the problem. They should actually have deescalated this issue. Maybe had a one-on-one, a small conversation, and not text-only. So that's all something that I'm still reflecting on. Is how can you actually prevent that? Or how can you actually go in and solve it before it becomes this huge bomb that goes off? That's something I'm actually actively thinking about. Maybe text is not really the best for all of the communication, especially if it's sensitive or something.
I think intellectual things, presenting some kind of argument for why this UI or this product should go in this direction. You can be very open, and even hurt somebody's feelings on an intellectual level. But if it becomes very personal, then text can be very dangerous. That's at least my current thinking about this.
Scott: [00:12:43] Yeah, if you wouldn't mind just pulling that out a little bit further from the employee side. It's obviously ingrained within the culture to use async communication. But how do you keep your finger on the pulse within the company to make sure that the team is a fan of using async or things are moving too slow?
How do you ensure that team is actually happy using that form of communication as time goes on?
Amir: [00:13:09] Yeah. So that's a good question. And something to know is the current asynchronous organization, we don't have a lot of companies that have over 50 people. But most of them didn't have Gitlab, Buffer, maybe to some extent Zapier the employee retention is over 90%.
So most people don't actually leave. And I think that tells you a bit about how happy people are about this asynchronous first way of doing stuff. So that's one thing. And maybe something that we encouraged people, and we have had this multiple times it's radical candor.
So when people are unhappy, they should just voice it up. Bring it up to the table. We encourage this type of feedback and actually at some point, our head of marketing, Brenna, had this idea of just eliminating all meetings and just going all-in on asynchronous. And then maybe a bit into this she was just like, "folks this sucks. I can't really connect with my team. I can't connect with people. This is a mistake." We were reflecting on that and we figured out we can't be too extreme on this. So yeah, I think open dialogue and having people that can actually go in and challenge and tell you how things are, is very important.
That's something that we encourage. Sometimes, people can bring up some issues that you're maybe not aware of or maybe you're not even a fan of them. You kinda need to tackle that as well and try to see it from their side.
Especially, in a company that's so diverse as Doist. We have a lot of different people, a lot of different backgrounds, religions, cultures. Something that has surprised me is how few conflicts we have had.
We had retreats where we have Russians and Americans, partying together. And you know that is usually a recipe for a disaster. But it isn't a fault for us.
Scott: [00:14:55] I definitely agree that meetings suck. Not a fan of meetings in the least bit. Tevi and I are both on board with your methodology of async is the way to go. But there are plenty of companies that have misconceptions or get it wrong. What do you think they get wrong about the idea of async communication?
Amir: [00:15:16] The top three things that people hate is or they think that doesn't really work, it's speed. I think Tevi touched on that. The second one is you can't really build connections or the culture will be weak. You synchronous first companies. And maybe the third one is because it's slower, it won't be that effective, most people will get blocked, and you will not be able to handle emergencies. And there's a lot of catastrophic scenarios where you don't really think you can take things slower and more reflective than as soon as possible. Everything needs to go fast.
That is the default way that companies operate right now? Yeah, so that would be my top three stuff that people always flag or are unsure about.
Tevi: [00:15:57] Nice. So you're very vocal about the mission of Doist is to reduce distractions and eliminate noise, help people focus. How do you as CEO reduce noise? You're very popular on Twitter and you write and you do podcasts. How do you reduce the noise, but also make sure you're you don't reduce too much and you still stay connected to the team?
Amir: [00:16:17] Something that I think has influenced me a lot is how Danish people in general work. So I think that's something that if you go to Scandinavia most people work 37 hour weeks or less. But if you're actually inside a company or inside a work environment is people don't fool around.
You're going you do your work and then you just disconnect and spend time with your family and your friends and stuff like So that's kinda my way of working as well. And something that I'll try to do is basically when I go into work, I really go to work. I don't spend a lot of time being distracted or procrastinating. The more you train this, the better you become. So a quote I have heard about work and life balance is basically what you want to train is basically going in full focus and then the ability to remove this focus and go and do something else.
What I've tried to do in my daily life is basically focus on this. So if I'm focused on something, I'm just in Zen mode. Where that's the only thing I think about. And I think that's where you create maybe better work, you think better.
It's sad, that that's the utopia. Because I'm still human and sometimes for me, especially as founder, CEO is disconnecting is actually really tough. It's something I struggled with a lot during my life because it's just hard to shut off the brain and say, "Okay, stop thinking about that."
I have a much easier time connecting and focusing on work than actually disconnecting from work. This is why I'm such a proponent of tools that kind of encouraged disconnection and shutting stuff off. And why I'm very discouraged by this always-on work culture. Because for me then, I'm working all the time. I can't really relax and I'm pretty sure a lot of people can relate to this.
Tevi: [00:18:00] So you see yourself going the other way? You are always trying to disconnect as opposed to the other way around. You feel you're able to focus on work a lot easier. And the practice is disconnecting. You're not worried that you're too disconnected.
Amir: [00:18:13] Exactly. Yeah. So for me, the problem isn't connecting is more, how do I disconnect? Something to note about my personality type, and I think a lot of founders have this as well. I can work all the time. It's not really that. The issue is how do we have work not all the time? Especially, as you get kids and stuff. Then the other part becomes really important and critical. If you can disconnect, you're with your kids, but maybe you're not really with your kids. Because inside your head thinking of some kind of problem.
Scott: [00:18:41] Completely in line with that of that mode of deep work. I think you're known for keeping a light calendar, right? Is there any fear within the company of trying to schedule a time to get on your calendar? And do you have any specific rules of how to be able to book a meeting with you when needed?
Amir: [00:18:59] I'm very open with that and I actually love to speak with people. I have an assistant and they can just book a time whenever they want and people do. But it's actually not that often. A lot of times I need to push the issue and book a meeting with people instead.
I think something that is very critical, it's being available as a leader. Even in an asynchronous way. So for me, everybody can direct message me. I respond maybe not, in real-time, but I respond quite fast. Even in the asynchronous environment, you need to be available and open for communication.
Tevi: [00:19:35] Nice. So tell us a bit about Twist. So it's a tool that you built specifically for async communication. We all know that Slack is a fire hose of always-on information. What were some of the features of Twist that you were trying to improve on for async communication? How is it different than Slack?
Amir: [00:19:53] We actually were one of the early adopters of Slack and we used it for a year or two. So we know the real-time chat really well. And honestly, it was a nightmare as a leader to be part of this environment. I don't know why anybody would want to have that kind of lifestyle. Especially in a fully distributed company.
Where you have people working all the time in different time zones. You can then have a huge problem disconnecting. And that's basically, how we started out. We actually never started out and said, "Okay we want to do a team communication app." We were really getting burned out by all of this always-on real-time chit-chat all day. It's very hard to actually concentrate to do any work. It's very hard to just go home and shut down the computer because discussions are happening. Work is happening and you need to be aware of that. We looked on the market and there was nothing that kind of was anti that environment.
Everybody was just copying Slack. And even right now Microsoft teams is basically a copy with very few innovations on its own. And even the innovation that they added is even more synchronous communication via meetings.
It's a double nightmare. So that's why we did this. It was a very hard product decision to do. Because we are still a super small company and you must go in and fight and compete against companies that have billions and even unlimited resources. Microsoft, I don't know they can hire 10,000 people without thinking much about it.
It's very nuts to go into this market, but we did it because nobody was solving this. Nobody thought it was a problem. And still today it's very strange how few people actually believe this is an issue and that there's kind of another way to work and communicate and live.
That is not time and not chit chat and not meetings all day long. That's why we have created Twist. And we are actually doing a new version right now where we're just going all-in on this vision of how we imagine team communication should be. It's either going to be a huge success or it's going to be a huge flop. We are not going to leave a room in between. But honestly, for us, it's been a very hard journey. Because for Twist it has not really a strong product-market fit in the current iteration. And the reason why is asynchronous it's still a niche. Most people still don't believe in it. It's only maybe this year and maybe the last couple of months where people are all asynchronous, there's something here. For us, we have been working on this for almost six years now. It has been a huge investment and it's more a religion right now than a product strategy or a market strategy.
We want to do this because we believe in it. We are just waiting for the markets to wake up and say, "Okay, there's something here." we'll see. Or this will continue to be super niche. And then we have just spent 10 years working on something that is going nowhere, but we'll see.
Scott: [00:22:46] I love the idea of preaching the Bible of async communication, being the future. And exactly, as you said, it's been the last six months to 12 months as companies have gone remote through COVID. There are people saying, "Hey, this might actually work." Especially since so many companies had to throw in extra meetings. Had to throw in extra touch touchpoints and have that never-ending nonsense. It definitely makes sense that this is the future and building the tools now and preaching that idea of this is the best model to use is fantastic. And I love it. On one side, we spoke about Slack. The always-on approach, leading to burnout within the team. On the other hand, how does Twist foster and contribute to healthier communication within the team?
Amir: [00:23:29] Yeah. A lot of the stuff that you, as a product designer, product person do is think about the patterns that you use inside the software. And a lot of the patterns that Slack uses are dark patterns to just increase engagement and make it a very addictive and fun experience.
So what we have done is done empty engagement. Of course, you need to have some fun to make communication, enjoyable. But it should not be addictive. So for instance, in Twist, you can't really see when somebody is online or not. You can't see if they have read something or not. And the reason is if you bring that in, then you bring in synchronous communication.
You see that Tevi is online. I message Tevi, I expect an answer. But if you don't see or you can't see Tevi is online, you send a message. Tevi can just see that message say, "Okay, I don't really want to speak with Amir right now. I will get back to him in an hour."
That's I think the core pattern of this, but also how you structure the UI, as well, matters a lot. So in Twist threads are first-class citizens. In Slack, they're demoted. They have threads but it's very limited.
The UI encourages longer-form content, which is better in an asynchronous environment. Because when you send a message, you want to have all the information inside this message. You don't want to have this regular chit-chat. Hello, John. And then you wait for John to answer. Then you ask your question and then you went for an answer. But you send a message, compose everything, send that. Then you don't really know when the answer. , sometimes it's right away, sometimes it's in a few hours or something that.
Yeah. So I hope I answered that. Scott. Just to give you an idea of how we think about this. But I think these kinds of patterns and what are the priorities of the company?
Tevi: [00:25:16] Nice. Jeff Bezos was famous for his six-page briefs. At the meeting to try to get more thoughtful composed ideas on the page before even talking about it. So I guess it's the exact opposite of one-line Slack, chit-chat.
Amir: [00:25:31] Exactly. Yeah. It's surprising how few companies encourage this written form of communication. I think another company that I know does this is Stripe, who also has had a lot of success. So there's definitely something I think about this. Just thinking hard, writing it down, and sharing that instead of doing an inside chit-chat or even a presentation. I think maybe these bullet points, aren't really the best way to convey ideas.
Tevi: [00:25:57] All right. So my last question for you. What's a recent book that you'd like to share with our listeners? I know you love to read.
Amir: [00:26:05] Yeah. The thing is honestly I have two small kids. And then I have a passion for podcasts, articles, and books. What currently gets the least time is book reading because book reading requires a lot more time.
Yeah. So let me just see what I have on my list. I have a huge list of things. So something actually that I got recommended is the Infinite Machine, which is about crypto. About Etherium. The history and the future of that.
Honestly, something I'm very passionate about apart from remote first, asynchronous first, is the crypto space. And decentralized finance. I think that will have huge implications as well. Of course, there's also huge amounts of speculation and a lot of bad stuff happening as well. Dogecoin and stuff like that. But I think it's a very exciting space. So that is the book that I'm going to read next. The Infinite Machine.
Scott: [00:26:58] Awesome. Any last question, gentlemen?
Amir: [00:27:02] I'm curious. How do you folks see asynchronous? Is it something that you're adopting?
Tevi: [00:27:07] I'm very intrigued by it, but it requires buy-in. It requires the whole team to be on board with it. Otherwise, you're the quiet one. Who's sitting out from conversations. I've actually been working currently at Invision. I've been working on introducing more async processes. Fewer meetings, maybe recordings of a solutions review, and then having conversations about it after the review. Let's say in Slack.
So definitely pushing for it because I think there is too much noise and not everybody needs to be in the room at the same time. I think that just wastes a lot of time from an efficiency standpoint.
Scott: [00:27:39] I agree with that. I'm a very anti-meeting person. I passionately hate meetings. I speak about it quite often. I think the only two opportunities for synchronous are team building. Which I think necessary and should be done very often of non-work-related team building, games, fun, Netflix parties, whatever may be something that your team gets together and has a good time together.
I think that is super important for that face to face, especially as a remote company. Having that video time just to be able to see the other person. Their face and their mannerisms and things like that. And the other case is one-on-one feedback. I think positive feedback can be used in both asynchronous and synchronous, but certainly, if you're giving constructive feedback, it has to be synchronous. It has to be over video. Because I think we started off the conversation today. Text opens up too many opportunities for someone to misread or just be in a bad mood that day or something happened and take something that you've written in the wrong context.
So outside of those, I totally believe in asynchronous. I for years have tried to get rid of meetings. When I had been in positions where I needed to organize meetings, I tried to put a detailed agenda with @ mentions, with specific bullet items. Knowing that in probably at least 50% or more of the cases in my career that when someone's called out saying, "Hey, we're having this meeting because Scott, we're waiting for your sign off, or Tevi, we're waiting for you to provide us a designer to do this. That person doesn't want to sit in this 30 or 60-minute meeting.
And they say, "Okay I have one action item. So if I can just give that item before the meeting comes, I probably don't need to get into the meeting." And thankfully in many cases, it works that way. So I think, using that asynchronous communication is definitely the future. Especially for meetings that don't need to be team-building or one-on-ones. And that's my 2 cents.
Tevi: [00:29:25] And I love the spin. That the perspective that it defaults to thoughtful, reflective thinking, as opposed to the live impulsive now. And I guess it requires a lot of discipline to hold back your need to connect right now. To say let's pause and it'll take time, but we'll figure it out.
Scott: [00:29:47] Yeah, I think it's even a bigger idea. Something that I've learned over the years. It's when you're angry or somebody upsets you, especially family or your wife says something to you that upsets you, it never automatically responds. At least wait a day, wait till the next day. And if you're still on fire the next day about something that was said, then at that point. Take your time. Think about the right response. Should I say this? Or should I put the text together?
How many times I've written a whole book of something. And the next day I'll go back and I've cut out half of it. I changed the language and I've gone from one tone to the opposite tone. I definitely like that perspective of taking the time to think about it. Taking time to look at the different perspectives and how to present what you're trying to say in the best possible way.
Tevi: [00:30:28] So you're an async husband, Scott?
Amir: [00:30:31] That's a new trend I need to copy that. The async husband.
Scott: [00:30:37] That's the next thing in marriage counseling and things like that.
Tevi: [00:30:43] Here's a six-page brief. I’ll respond tomorrow.
Scott: [00:30:51] Excellent gentlemen, thank you so much, Amir. Thank you so much for your time and for sharing the insights about Twist. About Doist. About async communications and all the good features and things that come out of it. Everyone until the next episode, have a wonderful day!