A changelog for the company?

"How to achieve Inbox Zero after the holidays" by CommitStrip. Used with permission.

“How to achieve Inbox Zero after the holidays” by CommitStrip. Used with permission.

A few weeks ago, Mathias Meyer shared an article that suggested a “Do Not Disturb” feature for Slack. At my job, Slack has become our main internal collaboration tool. It hasn’t quite killed email, but it’s pretty rare for members of the engineering team to send internal emails these days. It’s a great tool, but it can be hard to keep up with if you’re away for an extended period of time. This is particularly true when important messages get lost among jokes and gifs.

After being out of the office all of last week, I came back to several hundred emails and thousands of Slack messages. There was no way I could get through all of them, so I declared Slack bankruptcy (and deleted the emails that were for tickets someone else handled). I just have to trust that if there was anything important, my colleagues would fill me in. But is there a better way?

When I worked at McDonald’s, we had a management log book. It was a simple three-ring binder with hand-written notes. Mostly it was used by the store manager to communicate important information to shift managers and supervisors, but any of us could leave notes for things everyone on the management team needed to know. At the beginning of each shift, managers and supervisors were expected to read new entries and initial them.

I would go off to college for a semester and when I came back during breaks, the last few months of log entries were easy to catch up on. Obviously, they didn’t contain all of the changes, but at least I knew what the major changes were. It helped me come up to speed quickly, which was especially important when trying to lead teenage fast food workers.

I am a major proponent of work-life balance, both for myself, and for my team. It benefits neither the employee nor the employer to have people working all of the time. But it’s hard to fully disconnect when there’s a fear of missing out on important information. Perhaps a company changelog is in order?

This could capture important announcements, product decisions, unexpected lessons, and other things you really want team members to know. This allows people to declare bankruptcy when needed without missing key information. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a shared text file (in reverse chronological order) can be sufficient. Whatever works for your team.

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