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.

Author: Igor

Igor likes to connect the dots. As a strategic consultant in an increasingly complex world, he favours broad knowledge over specialisation. In the last five years, he helped shape strategic decisions at large corporations like Deutsche Postbank AG and Deutsche Telekom AG as well as at startups like Amen and refund.me. In his work he is focusing always on finding the appropriate solutions as well as the people who will be executing upon his advice. Beside the consulting work, Igor speaks at international conferences on variety of topics (SXSW, PICNIC, re:publica, etc.).

5 thoughts on “Week 66”

  1. Love the linksharing solution. We use an “exhaust” metaphor, laterally borrowed from the idea of “data exhaust” – the goal is always to try and make outputs that are the natural exhaust of some other activity we’re already engaged in. That’s essentially what you’re describing above, and the “there’s something important about limiting the focus” notion is a nice touch.

  2. “Data exhaust” is right on, yes.

    I have to admit that I am actually surprised how difficult it is to establish those workflows even in a small group of people that are very verse with technology, happy to experiment, etc. But then again, maybe because we are all so happy to experiment, it is actually very hard to realign on one tool that provides exactly what you need. And again, it’s the most simplest solutions that work in the end.

  3. I’m a big fan of your weekly read blogpostings and I’m really excited about the Hashtag Solution. I would like to set up a reading list here at the betahaus Hamburg with some Coworker too. Since we’re a group of Freelancer and Startups I think we need to find some way of publishing our outcome.

    What’ya guys say in working with a shared hashtag for reading lists maybe? This could be a nice way to enlarge the circle of readers! Just an idea! (:

    Talking about an eMail Newsletter, pls do it. I love this way of communicating too. It’s as you indicated Igor, most of the people don’t use RSS and well done mailings have the impact of reaching people where they’re used to read, focused.

  4. Jörn, thank you.

    Defining a hashtag for a group of people is easy. The trick is, really, to create a goal towards which you guys as a group would work. We all used pinboard before, so it was not hard to just select one specific hashtag. And as soon as we decided that we want to publish a weekly reading list, everything fell into place. So our solution was based on the: a) the fact that we are reading a lot b) we are all using pinboard and c) we want to publish more on our blog. If you can apply this for a group of people at the betahaus, please do. I’d be curious to see the outcome.

    As for our hashtag: http://pinboard.in/t:3wfav/

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