Getting work out of the way you work


This article was originally published when we launched 10,000ft in 2012 by our wise CTO, Shyam Habarakada. Five years later, it’s still spot-on.

We work to earn a good living, and if we’re lucky, we like the work we do. We want to do things we can be proud of and we want the creative freedom to determine how best to accomplish our goals.

You may be a chef at a restaurant, a designer at an agency, or a builder at a construction company. You’re in that job because you have the ability and the skills to make decisions about what you do and how you do it. Every day. Your team looks to you to make good decisions and deliver quality results. Your employer relies on these, too. And you want it to be fun, as often as possible.

At many modern workplaces, the belief is that enabling everyone to do their best work, in the way they feel most effective and most comfortable accomplishes work satisfaction and high-quality results.

In theory, this is a pretty straightforward: first, we hire people whom we believe are great at what they do. Next, we create teams around specific projects, matching the challenges at-hand to skills and interests of the people who would work on them. And we get out of the way as much as possible and let these teams do their magic.

The approach is based on the idea that it’s often difficult to accurately predict what lies ahead and many adjustments must be made along the way. Projects usually start with a set of high-level goals and deliverables, a client, a budget, and a timeline. The project team and stakeholders work together to flesh out what they know, and as they make progress towards accomplishing the stated goals, these details get further refined. Even the stated high-level goals can be changed through this process.

For many, this is a highly desirable way of working because it enables each of us to do great work and enjoy it without the overhead and bureaucratic processes that come with more rigid plans and large organizational structures.

Work must also be profitable while delivering high quality and value to the client. And running a profitable company depends heavily on good decisions being made in a timely manner.

  • Is this project on track?
  • What were the goals and what do actual results look like?
  • Can I add more people to the last 3 weeks of this project and still be within budget?
  • Would that help us make a high-quality deliverable, on time?
  • Who’s available to work on the project during that time?

These are common questions project managers and business owners have on their minds all the time. While they may be simple questions, they’re often difficult to answer and can get in the way of delivering quality on time, within budget. The wrong decision here will also get in the way of the work being enjoyable.

Several years ago while I was working at Artefact we needed better tools to help answer these questions. Tools that don’t create unnecessary overhead that takes people away from project work that needs to be done. Tools that are powerful, decentralized and yet simple to use.

10,000ft was born as a result. It doesn’t (yet) help you with hiring the best people, but it does help you organize the great people you already have among your many projects in the most effective way possible. It helps you plan for upcoming projects and track how projects are trending against budgets. It helps you find the best available people to do the job. And it helps you learn from your past performances. Rinse and repeat.

If you haven’t seen 10,000ft in action, come have a look. Sign up for a trial at 10000ft.com. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Shyam Habarakada
June 15th, 2017
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