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Productivity Tool from Facebook’s Cofounder

Monday, February 27, 2012 by Slaughter Development

A new employee productivity tool created by one of the co-founders of Facebook’s gets a few things right about employee productivity challenges. But does it create as many problems as it solves?

The best way to understand Asana is to take a quick look at one of their videos (direct link):

Let’s be clear: the opening voice over from this clip strikes at the heart of employee productivity frustrations. It says:

We believe that when we reduce the amount of time we spend being in meetings, writing status emails, tracking down updates, and doing other kinds of work about work, we not only get things done faster, we also change the nature and scale of the kinds of projects we can take on.

That phrase—“work about work”—really does have a tremendously negative impact on employee productivity and employee satisfaction.

Unfortunately, technology doesn’t really solve the real problem, which is that these negative “work about work” constructs are completely embedded into many corporate cultures. We are addicted to meetings and email, and these patterns sap our ability to actually be productive.

Asana does have some cool features. At about 0:55, the video shows how you can quickly create tasks just by typing a description and pressing enter. But really, this is just a list. In an office where everyone works together, a whiteboard is just as effective for making a task list. If individuals work remotely, a tool like Google Docs is just fine. Any document that multiple people can access and update can become a task list. The important employee productivity concept here is sharing authority and responsibility. No tool is going to make that happen in an environment that doesn’t already support it.

Listen carefully to what is said around the one minute mark regarding assigning tasks in Asana:

I’ll hold down tab and press a to jump to the assignee field and pass this task to one of my co-workers since I’ve done all I can here.

I can also add followers which is like cc-ing someone on an email.

When I comment on this task, it will be emailed to all of the followers.

Wait a minute: isn’t this product supposed to get rid of all of this “work about work” such as employee-productivity-destroying status updates over email? This offhand comment makes it sound like the program generates more email!

If your company is facing serious employee productivity issues, a new software product will probably not solve all your problems. In fact, productivity software usually is only effective if people make serious changes to workflow. Instead of latching on to the latest craze, consider talking to the experts. Reach out to a productivity consulting firm like Slaughter Development.


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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Summit: Managing Email Productivity - The first event at the Indianapolis Productivity Summit on Monday was Managing Email Productivity. For ninety minutes, the group reviewed the challenges of email: the biggest threat to getting any work done. Read on »
Why Increased Productivity is Unpopular - People often think that the productivity consulting business should be in high demand. But there’s a terrible secret: increased productivity requires change, and people hate change.
Read on »
Increase Productivity by 5% In One Day - Every company and every employee wants to be more productive. Are there actually easy things you can do to make a significant  productivity increase in only one day?
Read on »
Want to learn more? Register now for the 2012 Productivity Series

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