How To Build A More Candid Think Tank Culture At Work

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When was the last time you got completely unfiltered feedback? Do you dread presenting your big projects to your team because you fear their harsh critique?

With so much at stake, it's no wonder that so many people choose to play it safe rather than to take a risk. The problem is, playing it safe leads to work that’s average at best.

But it doesn't have to be this way! Research into feedback abounds, and countless companies are stepping forward to share what works for them. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and the author of Creativity, Inc., introduced the concept of Braintrusts as a means to encourage more fruitful team feedback.

In his words, “The Braintrust is our primary delivery system for straight talk [at Pixar]. Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid with each other.” He attributes the animation powerhouse’s 14 consecutive box office hits back to this think tank team.


Einstein's Advice On How To Be Happy

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As an entrepreneur, I know you are not in business just to make money.

You’re also in business because you think it will make you happier.

With this in mind, you may be interested in the following true story.

Albert Einstein is known as one of the smartest guys in history.

And one of the wisest. (They don’t always go together)

In fact still today, decades after his death, his brilliant quotes about life appear worldwide.



The right way to respond to feature requests

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Even the best products with the most passionate users will have these “success gaps” – a disparity between your product and the user’s desired outcome.

It’s easy to respond to these feature requests with a generic “Keep an eye on Twitter for updates” response or a pre-canned “We’ll pass your feedback onto the product team” message, but we’ve found that it’s valuable to mine these feature requests for deeper information so that you fully understand what the customer is trying to achieve.

That way, you’ll be able to strike a balance between keeping customers happy and collecting valuable information that will improve your product’s core value.

Here’s our best practice guide for handling feature requests in customer support.

Read the rest of the article to learn more.


Excuses, excuses

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Claire Lew:

I was on the phone with a CEO the other week. He wanted my advice for how he could cultivate a more open, transparent company culture for his team.

This CEO seemed to be already doing a lot of the right things. He held monthly all-hands meetings to get everyone on the same page. He also regularly asked questions to his employees about what could be better in the company.

However, when I recommended one question that he ask his employees, he was a bit taken aback.

“You want me to ask my team: ‘Are there any benefits we don’t offer that you think we should?’ Hmm, I dunno, Claire,” he told me.

This CEO assured me that he welcomed and valued feedback from employees. But asking about company benefits? And asking about them so publicly? He started to feel nervous about it.

“I don’t want the feedback to be a distraction,” he shared. “There’s so much we already do around benefits — I think this could set the wrong expectations and derail people from getting their work done.”

He continued:

“And, I don’t think we’re ready to act on that feedback. If we ask that question, it implies we need to implement something. But it might not be cost-effective. If we can’t do it, I don’t want to let people down.”

I get it. I’m a CEO myself. No CEO wants her employees to be distracted. No CEO wants to make false promises.

Here’s the reality, though: If you dig deeper, those two statements are actually excuses that are keeping you from building the open, transparent company culture you’re keen on.

We work with everyone to build a better product, but I've seen this happen at other companies I've worked at and with over the years.


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