Focus first on what matters most - making things easy

  
Mark Mader's blog - Oct 20 2008 - 1:08pm

I don't like remembering usernames and passwords. Call me a bit paranoid, but I don't use the same password for Gmail, Amazon, Smartsheet, Facebook, Google Docs and about fifty or so sites and online apps that I use.

Better to do it this way? Probably. Easier? Not so much. The example is worth mentioning because it’s a bit of an outlier. More often than not, we choose the more convenient path over one that may deliver more value or greater security.

The better vs. easier dilemma often stares us in the face. It is better to eat fruits and vegetables every day and get to bed by 9pm. Keep your stress level in check and you're even better off. OK - got it. Easy to do those three things on a consistent basis? I commend the few of you out there who pull it off.

As much as we'd like to believe that people’s choices are driven by the desire to be more productive, more thoughtful, and more effective at what they do, research shows that people gravitate to things that simplify what they already do.

People are fearful of change. Propose something that requires someone to work harder or remember new concepts - and you'll be challenged to make it stick. Ignoring this reality has kept many products from clearing the runway.

Shortly after launching an early prototype of Smartsheet in May 2006, Brent (Smartsheet Founder and Chairman) and I met with a Seattle based investor and former Microsoft executive. After hearing our value-oriented pitch he responded with a memorable quote, "Guys, does your product let the lazy be lazier?" I remember thinking, "did he just say that?" While it didn't sound like a pitch that would emanate from the halls of his former employer (they tried to stoke people's inner drive with 'Where do you want to go today' and 'Start something'), he had made a compelling point.

His advice - be sure to make someone's life easier first. Once you've done that, start promoting how much more effective they can be with Smartsheet. Two years and 50,000+ user experiences later, I couldn't agree more with the sequencing of and importance of both.

For an online collaboration solution to thrive it must satisfy two audiences – owners of work and those who contribute to its progress. Owners have a need to capture, organize, assign, manage, and communicate the status of information. Contributors, while not accountable for the overall result, are vital to ensuring that the work gets done. Without full participation from contributors, the benefit of online collaboration dies.

Smartsheet is designed to ensure that contributors don't struggle with the 'do I really have to learn a new tool to help Bob manage his work?' question.  How do we pull it off? People to whom you ask status questions, share files with, and communicate changes to aren't forced to remember a URL, a login, or password. Hmmm....sounds easier and better for both parties involved.

To see it for yourself, sign up for a Smartsheet account and try these features:

- Update Request: right click on a row or click on the send tab and request an update

- Send Row: right click on a row to send row information including discussion threads and live links to attached files. (No more having to re-key information into the body of an e-mail that you already have on your tracking sheet!)

- Notifications: enable someone to see changes made to a sheet, attached files, and discussions from within an e-mail.

 

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