“Workflow” apps hold so much promise. Whether it’s a CRM, project management tool, to-do list, or some other tool, the promise in each case is to clean up our messy lives and help us be more organized and effective.
The problem, though, is that getting people to adopt a workflow is really really hard. That’s why there are so many to-do apps out there, each one with a slightly different user experience, and none of them “just quite right” for everyone. Workflow apps are like Goldilocks’ porridge. Everyone is a little different, and it’s hard to get people to change.
A solution, then, is to take the “anti-workflow” approach. Make me more productive without shoehorning me into a new workflow.
For example, Zander has been building a side project called Ansatz, which is the “anti-CRM”. All you do is auth it into your email, and it builds intelligence your whole team can use, about who you know and how well. It’s a CRM with out the CRM.
And yesterday, I found out about Taco, which is the “anti-ToDo” app — gives you a handle on all of the things you need to do (as defined by starred emails, github tasks, zendesk tickets, etc), and puts it right where you want it: on the Chrome new tab screen (side note: Taco should merge with Momentum, which I love). So now, I can track and prioritize what I need to work on, without having to adopt a to-do routine that I’m guaranteed not to stick to. Already, using this has helped me manage my inbox, as I know that I can archive starred emails knowing they’ll show up in my todo list, where I can prioritize them and work on them later when I have time.
Both of these examples build on perhaps the biggest productivity treasure trove: the inbox. For a long time, I’ve wondered why we don’t see more and better email analytics tools (Rapportive was one of my favorites). My inbox knows pretty much everything about me, and it’s really poorly organized. Maybe it’s because entrepreneurs are afraid of Google Inbox (I suppose I would be).
Regardless, it seems to me that there are countless ways to help me make my inbox more meaningful to me, and nearly all of them can accomplish that with an anti-workflow approach, which is a winning one IMHO.
6 comments on “Anti-workflow apps”
agreed! there’s still so much potential around lightweight consumer-friendly contact tools!
yes — lightweight is the important part — anti-workflow is one kind of lightweight.
i am still shocked that entrepreneurs haven’t done on top of email
I’ve talked lots with @sfslim about this same idea. They were building anti-workflow group software in Y Combinator. Looks like their most recent incarnation is https://threadable.com/.
nice – this part is key:
The reason info organization is hard is because its not integrated at a large scope to mimic how nature works.
Messaging, like any other complex adaptive system is dependent on 3 to 4 initial conditions. One is context: an awareness of roles and relationships via classification. Another is private property, which is incompatible with ad based business models. Once those initial conditions are in place, messaging, tasks, etc., is very effective. This project is 20% coded. https://www.castpoints.com/
Nick, how do you think anti-workflow apps would work in the enterprise? Do you have any examples?
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