Week 66

In this week note, it is all about vision, insights into how we create our weekly reads and our new product: premium newsletter.

Staying on vision

Back in March 2010, when Peter, Johannes and I decided to start Third Wave, we sketched out a vision for the company. Visions for non-product companies can be somewhat fluid, intangible. For us, it was important to capture how we approach our work, what we want to accomplish and how we want to evolve the company. Like everybody else, we drew a lot of inspiration from our peers and from companies or projects that excel at what they do. Companies like BERG or Near Future Laboratory were on this list. Not because we see ourselves in the same field of operation necessarily, but because their work is also strongly based on pattern recognition. And if that is what you do, there is really no field that doesn’t intersect with your work.

While not everything turned out as we had anticipated, we recently talked about how happy we are about the fact that after more than a year, the vision we wrote down and the way we live every working day is still the same. We sometimes take a different approach than we had planned and we will keep iterating, but it is still about the ‘How do we get there’ instead of ‘Where do we want to go?’

Experimenting with formats

One part of the ‘How’ was and is for us to extend our services beyond the classic consulting work. In 2011 we focused strongly on events. But even back during the planning phase in 2010, we always wanted to go into publishing more. Sharing is not only good for karma, it is also one of the most effective ways to create conversations around what you do and get people interested in your work.

Now, publishing for a company of three people is very hard and it tooks us a while to get to a lean process that works for us. Our weekly reading list is basically a sneak peak into what we want to do. Both for you and for ourselves. Let me get a bit into details.

Even in a small company as ours, it is somewhat tricky to establish a process of sharing and collecting interesting articles without just dumping being into an archive never to be read again. We experimented with different tools and methods, but we knew it would only really work if they integrated well into our workflows.

After a while, we noticed that the common denominator in this specific case was the bookmarking service Pinboard. We defined a tag that we assign to all articles that are noteworthy and potential candidates for our weekly reading list. On Friday, we curate them and publish them on our blog. Clean and simple for us to read the interesting stuff that the others have read and a way to create content based on our own workflows and habits.

The feedback so far has been overly positive and we enjoy the fact that we apparently struck a nerve here. Starting this week, we will only publish the 5 most interesting articles. While having a broad overview can be useful, we believe that focusing on the most important articles can be beneficial for you, our readers. Let us know what you think.

Products

The weekly reading list in itself is a good accomplishment, but we wanted to make more out of it. Right from the start, we thought about creating a premium newsletter.

You might ask now: Newsletter? Really? Yes, really. Contrary to some, we believe that the death of the email is highly exaggerated. It is not so much the number of emails that you receive that is the problem, but how you interact with them.

In some context, getting specific content into your inbox is the most convenient way to follow up on interesting content. Especially in a corporate context. Not that many people use RSS feeds or have even access to a feed reader, nor do they necessarily need to. Still, there is a growing demand of leading employees to be informed on new developments and we want to tackle providing a solution.

So far, we have one client that hired us to create such a newsletter. The fact that we already generate a very extensive and comprehensive archive of relevant reading material is invaluable in this context. It allows us to draw quickly from what we already know, put it into the specific, relevant context for the client and create an income stream with as little overhead as possible.

If you are interested in learning more, consider dropping us a line.

Week 41

For our quarterly strategy meetings, we usually close down shop and go away for two days to work in a different environment. It helps not to be the caught up in daily routine to think and talk about fundamentals.

Striving. If there is one word to describe our week, it would be ‘striving’.

For our quarterly strategy meetings, we usually close down shop and go away for two days to work in a different environment. It helps not to be caught up in daily routine to think and talk about fundamentals. This time, there was just no time slot for this kind of luxury and so we sat down on Tuesday in Peter’s apartment and worked on how to approach the next three month. After observing a few things, we made ourselves a plan that puts a lot more pressure onto us. That’s okay. It’s how things are supposed to be right now. Or to put it in our good friend’s Mike Arauz’ words:

If the pressure doesn’t defeat you, it turns you into a diamond.

That said, it feels like we’re kicking into a completely new gear right now. Not that we’ve been doing poorly before, but nine month into starting a company we’re realigning our strategy for Third Wave. Obviously, it’s a people business. Third Wave will always be the sum of people who are involved in the company. Our knowledge, our curiousity is what drives the company. While this is a powerful underlying structure, we found that we need to differentiate more between personal interests and those of the company. We will still incorporate as many ideas as possible, but we will concentrate on structuring those into a bigger company vision. It helps us – in our function as managing partners of Third Wave – to know what’s next.

And it feels good to do this. It helps us to focus and embrace even more the idea that we are building a solid, good company with social responsibility and very specific goals. As always, exciting times.

As for the travel schedule: I will be arriving in Munich on Wednesday evening and staying for about 24 hours. Peter and Johannes will keep the fort in Berlin.