Building a 10K team from scratch

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This is part of my #5Weeks; 5 Stories, 5 Products in 5 Weeks challenge.

Intro

I just joined a small company as their first Project Manager (also as their Automation Master-Yoda-Sifu — still a working title role) No-Code Project Manager.
The company has been around for almost 3 years now. It’s a small startup founded by a forty-something New Yorker who is now nomading in South East Asia.
What makes the company unique is that even though we seem to be based in South East Asia, the only real South East Asian is me. The rest of the team are from Australia (based in Perth), Bangladesh (currently in Hong Kong) and a mysterious designer who claimed to have multi-citizenship, now resides in Bali.

What’s the story?

“But Leif, you said you’re building from scratch?”.
“Seems like you already have a team.”
Yes and no. Previously there was only ONE full-time employee in the company, which is the founder. The rest were freelancers and part-timers.
So it’s the right time to change that and to have it more structured than just a one-man agency.
Having said that, I won’t be involved directly with the structuring. I’m only tasked with building a project team and how we operate.

The A(BCD)-Team

Just kidding. It’s THE team.
Cool thing about this crew, everyone is already familiar with each other. They know their roles, it’s just a matter of organizing the teamwork.
As the new kid on the block, I was able to start fresh with everyone. Free from all prejudices and favouritism. As I’ll be putting different types of hats on everyone as an experiment.
Adding the “generalist” into the specialist as they already are.

Productivity

Keeping It Simple, and Asynchronously!

That’s a big “A” there, but it’s not the most important part. Keeping everything simple is.
Of course, it is easier said than done.
We encourage everyone to work for 15-20 hours a week. So, having a good productivity framework is crucial.
That’s when the founder and I discovered RadReads’ $10K Framework. And we think we’ve found the right path for both of us, and the team.

What is the $10K Framework, and why?

You can read great details here.
But basically, it’s a method to identify the “values” for every task that we have (labelled as $10K, $1K, $100 and $10). From the highest priority to the lowest. Sounds familiar, right?
Every individual has their own ways to do it. For us, since we’re working shorter hours a week (4 hours a day) than most companies, we want to focus on tasks that really matter.
In this case, $10K work and then probably the $1K work.
Here’s the matrix visual for better understanding, borrowed from RadReads.

Note: High skill to low skill here also means the effort (energy) taken to complete the task. It doesn’t make sense to spend an hour writing an email.
RadReads’ 10K Work
RadReads’ 10K Work

The differences with our previous methods

I am sure everyone in our team has tried every method out there.
The GTD, Sprint, Time-blocking, and loads more.
I personally used to love Trello. I even applied for a job there, but didn’t pass the 2nd interview.😞
I used Trello for almost everything. From planning my daily tasks, to preparing my family’s trip to Seoul, Paris, etc.
As for the team, they previously used Notion’s (Kanban) board view. It isn't quite as pretty as Trello, but still very similar.
As simple as it may look, it can be too overwhelming if you put everything to it.
So, they created another board for weekly tasks to make it less stressful. But everyone ended up working extra hours, trying to finish all the tasks.

Creating the 10K Digital Napkin

Our newly minted framework is now based on RadReads’ $10K Napkin, as visualized below.
Note: Also, read further down to check on how to get the template.😉
RadReads’ 10K Napkin
RadReads’ 10K Napkin
I’ll write more on how we used the template effectively in another post (aka guide).
Topics will include:
  • Asynchronous communication
  • The tools, within Notion and externally
  • How we assess, and improve

The Product (WIP)

Sneak peek of 10K Digital Napkin, Your Daily Task Manager
Sneak peek of 10K Digital Napkin, Your Daily Task Manager
Here’s what I came up with. It went through rigorous alterations, and with the spirit of keeping it simple, it’s now considered complete.
We’ve been using it for almost 3 months now, and so far so good. As I mentioned, it’s crucial to have review sessions to assess and improve.
Of course, with Notion’s nature, we will not stop here. That’s what I love about Notion.💖
With my boss’ permission, I’m going to duplicate this, and will tweak and polish it. So that it can be used individually.
As part of my #5Weeks challenge, this will be my Week #1 Product.
The Gumroad page is here. And, you can also visit my mini store page, from time to time, for the latest launches.

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