Steve Speaks #20: Race Against Time

Steve talks about the race against time. Check it out and then “Like” our Facebook page to see future episodes:

Steve Speaks #20 Transcript: If there’s one thing I’ve obsessed about my whole life it’s time. You know, am I on time? How long will it take to get somewhere? When will that be done? I can drive people crazy with that actually. I’m so obsessive around time and it’s funny that at the end of the day that when it came to, you know, solving our number one problem that we’ve had in our business over the past 10 years it came down to a prioritization of time. We’re still learning but being able to be more clear about our strategy and area of specialization means that we’re able to organize the way we spend our time more clearly.

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Steve Speaks #19: The GoLab, Part 05

Coworking’s gone Hollywood. “Like” our Facebook page to see future episodes…come on, just do it!

Steve Speaks #19 Transcript: The federated coworking model is kind of like the Hollywood model about how businesses come together to create movies, right? So as a movie is produced you bring all these people together and then when the movie is over you’ll disband the team. It’s a very efficient model and proven at getting things done and creating innovation and efficiency. We see that as being the model the way that web design and creative media are produced in the world going forward. We see the coworking facility as a real sort of key center, it’s the center for that.

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Kitchen Sink Game Theory

Every company has people who avoid responsibility. Just look at the kitchen sink. There are probably cups in there that should be in the washer. Some people think that their one cup won’t bother anyone. But, then everyone follows suit and someone gets stuck with the responsibility of doing the dishes.

Game Theory is Alive and Well in the Kitchen

It’s a modified version of the prisoner’s dilemma. For those not familiar with this experiment, let me explain by using a classic example.

Two criminals are caught and brought into a police station, where they are separated for questioning. The criminals are given two choices; rat out their accomplice, or remain silent.

  • If both criminals work together and remain silent, they each get one year in jail.
  • If criminal A rats out criminal B, and criminal B remains silent, criminal B goes to jail for 5 years and criminal A gets off free.
  • If both criminals rat each other out, they both go to jail for 3 years.

Kitchen Sink Game Theory is as Follows

Employee A and employee B are separated by time and must decide whether to leave dishes in the sink or in the washer. Their decisions, together, decide who has to put in the most effort to keeping the sink clean.

  • If both employees put their dishes in the washer, it’s easy and you have a clean sink for all to enjoy.
  • If employee A leaves dishes in the sink, and employee B does not, you have a messy sink and employee B is stuck doing the dishes.
  • If both employees leave their dishes in the sink, you have a messy sink.

What’s worse is that if employees see they’re the only ones putting dishes in the sink, they’ll stop, because they’re sick of being the sucker.

Keeping a Clean Sink

Using the stick won’t work. Fear is temporary, and the behavior you want to eliminate reappears as soon as people are left unobserved. Instead, you have to build a culture of working together. This is community building. And the kitchen sink can be a good indicator of the health of your group.

As a leader, you can;
  • Lead by example. Put your dishes in the washer. Every now and then put all the dishes in the washer.
  • Give positive feedback to those who take responsibility for their own dishes.
  • Communicate your desired behavior through different mediums. Sometimes very responsible people simply aren’t aware of the cultural norms you’re trying to achieve. Educate them.
  • Measure behavior and make results visible. It’s amazing how much something changes as soon as it is measured.

Of course, you could always do what my friend’s firms did, eliminate glass altogether and making people use styrofoam cups and paper plates.

Feel free to respond with your kitchen sink stories.

The Tough Life of a Business Idea

We all have business ideas. They come to us when we’re jogging, taking a shower, or hopped up on caffeine at the cafe. But what becomes of these ideas? How do they go from a “what if…” to a full blown commercial success? Well, they have to run a gambit where most of them will die off.  Here’s a fun graph that many of us will recognize.

Steve Speaks 18: Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from everyone at FG SQUARED.

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Metrics for a Healthy Community

Steve GoLab contends that a great measurement for the health of a co-working community is “pounds of coffee served per month.”

I have to agree. Sure, it’s a noisy metric; I drink tea, someone may buy Starbucks on the way to work, a one-cup-a-day person may be the most productive person in the office. But what metric isn’t noisy? For this reason though, I believe it’s important to have a a set of metrics that effectively minimizes the noise you see in your final numbers. But first, what exactly is a healthy co-working community?

A healthy co-working community;

-works together to maximize limited resources. Space is always limited. Are people finding ways to accommodate newcomers or are they bickering over small intrusions?

-keeps the money in the family. Okay, I’m not talking mafia style. I’m saying that when someone in the community is asked, “Do you know someone who knows C++?” do they think of members in the community first, or does their mind go back to the last Tech Happy Hour they attended?

-self-regulates the common areas. You’ve heard of the “tragedy of the commons” right? This is the “oh, someone else will take care of it,” or “it doesn’t matter if I don’t pick up after myself this one time.” And eventually things become a mess. A community with strong norms of self regulation won’t have the same problems as a community that sets rules and people hope not to get caught. A great things to watch is the kitchen sink. Does it pile up with dirty dishes? Do people always put their dishes in dishwasher?

There are others of course. When coming up with metrics for your community, remember to keep them fun, easy to measure, and widely known through the community.


Steve Speaks #17: The GoLab, Part 04

It’s all about making the team. “Like” our Facebook page to see future episodes…come on, just do it!

Steve Speaks #17 Transcript: It matters how you go about educating different members of what other members are doing and helping people understand what the various gifts are of the various businesses and individuals who work inside of that space so that they can kind of federate and organize around projects as they come into the space. For instance, you know, FG SQUARED might get an opportunity that requires that we develop some sort of mobile application and rather than turn the business away we say no, we actually have a mobile developer here in house. While they don’t actually work for FG SQUARED but they’re inside of the GoLab community.

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Measurements of Success at the GoLab

It’s all about swiggin’ coffee and makin’ deals. “Like” our Facebook page to see future episodes…come on, just do it!

Steve Speaks #16 Transcript: So this is more than just an idea about coworkers working together in an organized fashion. This is actually something that we’re actively doing. One of the ways we’re going to measure success here, other than…you know, pounds of coffee served, is gonna be deals that we do with each other. Already this year I know that there’ve been like five deals that have been done between coworkers here at the GoLab.

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Steve Speaks #15: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

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Having Roomies is Fun

Fun with shared spaces.

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