Thursday, April 21, 2011

Timezone triumphs speed business progress

Recently we've explored how relatively cheap and easy it is to start a business with new tools that are available. But it's not just $$ cost that can be reduced: time can be cut also, bringing savings and benefits in more or less equal measure.

We're intentionally splitting various functional roles across multiple timezones, using the tools that we wrote about to ensure that everyone is coordinated and everything documented for now and the future. Here's how it works in practice:

  • Yesterday I happened to wake at 5am and pick up where colleagues further West were finishing up and falling asleep after midnight. We didn't really stop!
  • Yesterday evening, while I was sleeping, one of my colleagues put out two software development releases in quick succession, documenting what he'd done in our internal systems. I was able to read what he'd written on my smartphone while still in bed when I woke today ... And I could think about it over a leisurely breakfast while he was sleeping ... Then, I settled down to work: I picked up the baton where he'd left it for me and carried out some thorough testing. Not only did I fix the issue he'd documented, but I found two others, low priority items but things that would have slowed us down in the future ... I was able to fix the problems and document what we need to do later in the development schedule when it suits... He'll wake and find what he thought was a problem has gone away; with an easy and quick fix he can accomplish in minutes to make sure it doesn't happen again...
I know that all sounds a bit vague because I'm trying to tell the highlights without going into too much tedious explanation; but the bottom line is that by carefully setting up our working processes - and the tools to support them - we can achieve a lot more in a lot less time.

And, as for all that stuff about waking at 5am and working from the iPhone in bed? I wouldn't do it if I didn't want to and if it didn't actually make life easier ... I've set things up so that I can do most of what I need to do from a mobile device as I wander from coffee shop to park to restaurant. It's actually a great lifestyle, even though it's hardly 9 to 5! It works for me; and for a colleague who runs errands with his wife at times during the day, or goes to the gym or for a run, then works in the evenings when it suits.

We are all secure enough in our professionalism and management style not to need to clock-watch, or supervise a team in the same physical space. We just trust each other to get the job done well.

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