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Show Notes

No more slapdash, we want Slack-Dash: Ever get bogged down by a neverending Slack thread where few decisions ever get made? On this week’s episode of Track Changes we hear about a new Slack app that solves this very problem. Paul and Rich sit down with fellow Postlight employees Matt Quintanilla and Phil Johnson to chat about Dash, the app they developed that helps you organize your teams and deadlines in Slack. Matt and Phil tell us about why and how they created this new app and why it can be used for anything from preparing for a meeting to wedding planning.

Transcript

Paul Ford I— you know— I went over to Slack’s office and I went every day— I talked to— I would go, “[Clicks tongue three times] How you doin’?[Clicks tongue three times] Nice to see ya.” [Rich chuckles] And they— they didn’t think it was very funny. 

Matt Quintanilla Eh. It’s a pretty good joke. 

PF It was ok. They— I got a, like, “Hey! I haven’t heard that one in a really long time, so it was cool to see you resurrect it.” And I was like, “[Clicks tongue three times] Thank you.” [Music fades in, plays alone for 19 seconds, ramps down.]

Rich Ziade Paul, you and I talk a lot. 

PF We do. It’s not actually always in person. 

RZ Or on a podcast. 

PF No, sometimes it’s through the medium of textual communication. 

RZ Yes. And . . . very often we pull others in. 

PF Into our textual . . . [music fades out]. 

RZ Communication. 

PF Yes. 

RZ And it’s usually around a call. We make a lot of big calls that impact a lot of people. And sometimes we need feedback; sometimes we need other people’s input. To get an answer. To something. 

PF Yeah, it’s true. Listeners should know: it’s not all jokes and good times. Sometimes we’re just deciding about people’s lives. 

RZ Correct. Correct. And we use Slack a ton. We email a little bit. I don’t think I’ve ever emailed you. I think it’s always Slack. 

PF You forward things to me sometimes. 

RZ Forward things to you. 

PF But yeah, no, our— we are not— there’s— it’s not transactional. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing. 

RZ I also rarely call you. I mean it’s worth noting. 

PF Yeah. 

[1:21]

RZ So, there are these moments— let’s call it a flare up, where a call needs to get made; you wanna gather four, five, six people [mm hmm]; and you wanna talk through— 

PF Yeah this is worth— it’s not two. Like two people have a conversation and figure it out [correct] but every now and then you need input. 

RZ Right. And— and Slack falls short. 

PF Slack is for conversation. 

RZ Slack is for conversation.

PF So you and I are in a DM channel, Direct Messaging each other and we’re— we’re talking, right? 

RZ Yeah. 

PF And then we’re— and sometimes we come to conclusions together but often we need input; we need ideas; we need [yes] people to say, like, “No, this happened,” “Not that happened,” or, “We should do this or not that.” 

RZ To get to an outcome. 

PF Yeah, that’s right. So you make a channel. You can do that. 

RZ To get to an outcome. 

PF Yeah, that’s right. So you can make a channel. You can do that. Or you can DM four people . . .

RZ You could do both of those things. 

PF And we do. We have. 

RZ They both don’t— And we do! But it doesn’t fit perfectly. I just wanna get in a room. I mean [well] the physical equivalent is I just wanna get everyone in a room. Which I do. 

PF You know what? But what is the room? The room is a forcing function. The clock’s ticking; we all have to eventually eat, go home [yes], you know? 

RZ Yes. 

[2:21]

PF Something

RZ Yes. We’re seeking an outcome. 

PF Yeah, you walk into that room and there’s an agenda and you say, “We need to figure this out.” 

RZ So, Paul, what do we do?! 

PF God, Rich, you know, it used to be such a problem but now, finally, there’s a product. 

RZ It’s been solved. 

PF There’s a product [yes] that can help. 

RZ I think you’re right. 

PF And it’s built into Slack, if you want it to be. You can install it as a plugin. You and I shouldn’t talk about this. We should talk with the creators of this amazing product. 

RZ Let’s do it. 

PF Ok. 

RZ We’ve got Matt Quintanilla, Partner, Head of Design at Postlight; and we’ve got Phil Johnson, Director of Product Management here at Postlight. And they both worked on a project that I don’t wanna take any of the thunder away but I will say the name of it, it’s called Dash. It is for Slack. It’s a Slack addon. Welcome, guys, to Track Changes. 

MQ Thank you for having us. 

Phil Johnson Thanks. 

PF I want them to talk about Dash is. But I wanna say an important thing about Dash . . . We use it. A lot. At Postlight. 

RZ It’s very cool. 

PF You build things and you’re like, “Yeah, this’ll be really cool! This’ll change everything! The world really wants this.” And then this includes your own products that you spend a lot of money to develop. 

RZ Yes. 

[3:26]

PF [Makes high-pitched sound followed by a crashing sound

RZ It’s hard, man, it’s hard to get it right and it’s hard— you know, and you gotta be willing to— to test it and see if it’s somethin’ that’s gonna be useful to people. And we did that, actually, we iterated on Dash until it started to feel right, and then we put it out in the world. So, wait, wait, let’s give the one sentence of what Slack is. 

PF Slack is a corporate chat environment . . . that allow— 

RZ It’s a group chat tool. 

PF You can have channels to talk about different projects or activities, and all the people in your company can be on, and you can organize people relatively quickly into these channels to talk about stuff. 

RZ Correct. So there’s an HR channel that’ll have HR people in it; and there’s a, you know, TV channel if you wanna talk about shows that people are watching for fun; and there’s a, you know, Finance channel, so the finance people can talk about stuff. We use it at Postlight, obviously. But it doesn’t do everything, Paul!! 

PF It doesn’t and now it’s time for us to stop talking. 

RZ Yes. So, let’s state the problem. I guess, Phil, walk me through why the world would even need something like this— what’s the challenge? Where does Slack fall short? 

PJ We wanted to celebrate the things that were good about Slack. You know, it’s really changed the way that we communicate professionally. Email sort of kept communication siloed and away from other people and now conversations are happening in a more public way; they’re happening in front of other people; and we realized that that’s something that we wanted to continue to embrace but sometimes an issue is time sensitive or it is actually sensitive to individuals, and we need to make sure that we handle those issues discreetly and— and well. And we found ourselves, I think, uh going into conference rooms and— and saying, “Hey! We need to just go do this in person, have a discussion about, say, and upcoming event, or an HR issue, or something along those lines.” And what we wanted to do is use Slack to carve out a space for us to do that in the same way that we’ve been communicating in Slack, you know, as a professional organization. 

[5:20]

RZ Ok. Why not just do that in Slack? Why can’t I just message you and Matt and Paul and just do it? 

PJ Yeah, I think, that’s a— a use case that we were actually experiencing, right? You bring four or five people into a direct message [yeah]. If you’ve ever talked to them before in Slack though, that message history is still there so it’s hard to fix, you know, context about what you’re about now. And also if you want to invite another person into that discussion, it’s pretty impossible. So if you need to invite [I see] a fifth party, a sixth party, a seventh party in, you have to restart all your DMs. 

RZ Ok. 

PJ And DMs have other limitations as well. You know, they’re not— they’re not fully featured. They have a couple of the Slack features but they don’t do everything. 

RZ So there’s— I guess— the shortcoming here is that there’s a permanence to these channels that you create in Slack, like they’re usually not for this purpose; they’re usually a place that’s gonna be there for all time. 

PJ Well, yeah, so I think that, you know, we realized that DMs are helpful in sort of one-off discussions but we wanted to make a permanent place for us to be able to make decisions that— that require a little bit more attention [mm hmm] but at the same time we didn’t wanna just create a bunch of channels and do that work there because there’s a lot of friction in doing that. So put those two ideas together, and you get the application Dash. And what that really does is it lets you create templates temporary channels and they archive on their own when you set the timer to do so, and you can automatically invite people to those channels, just using a quick slash command. So they sit at the top of your lists, they have a little dash in front of them— hence the name or one of the aspects of the name. And they expire. 

RZ Ok so this— this room, let’s call it a room or a channel, is gonna go away [mm hmm] is what you’re saying. At a set time. Meaning, “I want this resolved,” or, “I want to get to an answer,” or, “We’d all like to get to an answer by this point in time.” 

PJ Sure! If there’s an event, you know, if there’s a deadline for an event that is happening that we can’t change then the room should expire at the same time. 

RZ Ok. 

[7:10] 

PJ So it’s really about reducing friction and bringing people together. 

RZ Got it. Why not email? I mean, I know the five people I wanna talk to; I know the problem— and let’s call it an HR problem: John Doe, HR Issue. Let’s say. Subject: John Doe, HR Issue, and recipients are the five people. 

MQ Yeah, one of the things that Slack, you know, advertises itself around is where work happens. You know, when you have too many channels: you have email, you’ve got an inbox over here; you’ve got Basecamp over there, you sometimes don’t know where to have the conversation [mmm]. And with Slack we’ve really oriented our entire company around it as many companies have, as a remote-friendly organization. We wanna have the discussion in a place that is . . . both— the discussion is happening at the same time . . . as well also being saved for posterity. In a way that it’s just a natural flow of conversation. And you have those channels, those situations, where you do need to have people that are— that are sort of responding to each other in a conversational way and just know that other people are watching their conversation happen at the same time. You’ve had this with every email chain in existence where you start typing something and somebody pops in right before you, and says something on top of that, and so [mm] you’re email’s no longer relevant. This is what chat is trying to solve. 

RZ Right. Right, right, right. What’s that called, Paul? When you start that email, it gets— it flares up real fast so you’ve got end levels of threads, you respond to level four, someone else responds to level two, which was two emails back, do you know what I’m talking about? 

PF Yeah, it’s just a big mess. I don’t think it has an official name. 

RZ It is amazing though, isn’t it? And then you try to shut it down. You’re like, “Ok, final call here.” It doesn’t work. I mean I think that’s the big killer with emails: those— that nested thread that just goes on. 

PF Look: this is the problem with digital communication in general, right? Like, who is making a decision . . . and when are they going to make it? Is the biggest— like Slack doesn’t have that built in and email certainly doesn’t. 

RZ No. No, no, no. Right, right, right. 

PF Right? Like what we did was mashed up the communication tool everyone is using with a tiny bit of calendaring. Just like a dash, a salty dash. 

RZ Oh!!! Hence the name! Shit! 

PF Exactly! 

PJ That was very well done. 

RZ Very well done. 

PF Just a little flavor of schedule so that instead of everybody going like, “Yeah, I have four millinon ideas and I’m not gonna take ownership of any of them.” Someone comes in [Rich laughs], says, “Damn it! We gotta get this thing done. Team! Let’s go!” And they rope some people in and everybody gets a chance to both say their piece and contribute to the discussion [yup] and then dammit does that thing not come up and say, “Hey, looks like you’re out of time!” 

RZ Yup. 

PF Ah it’s so good, cuz Slack: you can just talk all day. 

RZ And you do. I mean let’s face it: look, Slack is a wonderful place to chit chat. 

PF You put animated GIFs in, it’s workplace as conversation, and the workplace is a conversation. 

RZ Sure. 

PF But this is a forcing function to get people to actually to something and when you talk about email that is exactly what’s going on here, right? Like, there are very few tools that are organized around decisions. 

RZ Yup. 

PF There are some that are very organized around rewards, like a CRM tool, where you’re moving things along the pipelines. Or like in Trello, where you’re things along the statuses so that you’re trying to get to the goal all the way on the right. But no, this is about decisions, and it’s in a very low decision rate environment, so it’s cool. 

RZ Take me through the process. Ok? I’m gonna give you an example, and you walk me through it. Um, we have an interview candidate we’re very excited about and the decision makers around this call are a handful of people: manager, some peers, a manager’s manager, et cetera, and we wanna talk about this, we just finished the interview, and we wanna make a call quickly. So her name is Margaret. So, Phil, get me going here. 

PJ Yeah, I mean, it’s as simple as putting in a slash command. So, one of my favorite things about this is that you can put it in as slash dash the word or slash and it’s really a hyphen but slash dash. And then you— you set the topic, so in this case it would be Margaret’s Interview or something along those lines. The app takes care of all the formatting for you. And then you start to at the users in the slash command that you want. So I’d be like, “At Rich, at Matt, at Paul,” — 

RZ People you’re gathering. 

[11:17]

PJ All those people, exactly.

RZ Ok. Ok. 

PJ And they can be cross functional, like you mentioned— this is a good example because it’ll be— you know, leadership, it will be peers, it will be people across the organization [right]. They might not be in a channel together right now but this is what we’re gonna do. Then when you hit enter on the slash command, a little UI element that actually uses Slack’s Block Kit building feature is what you’ll see. And there are a couple of buttons here for picking the time, the date, and when you’d like the conversation to wrap up. So we set those parameters, hit a button, and everyone gets invited to the channel. 

RZ So this could be tomorrow? 

PJ It could be tomorrow; it could be later today [ok]; it could be in a couple of weeks. 

RZ Got it. The goal here is like: “Ok, we’re gonna chat,” and then a call’s gonna get made. 

PF Well not just a call. Someone— the person— a person is responsible for making the final decision. 

PJ It’s usually the person who makes the slash command in this case. 

PF That’s right. 

PJ But usually it’s not just a final decision but an overall outcome [mm hmm] and that outcome, once the timer ends, you know, so figure all this discussion is happening— timer ends, you get another prompt, again built with Block Kit, that tells you that it’s time to, you know, wrap up, and as the person who created the room, you then have the option to either extend it or you can finish the discussion and if you finish the discussion you can broadcast this outcome to a different conversation in Slack. There’s something worth noting here as well which is that the channels can be public or private, and the broadcast feature works on the public side. So if it’s already in public then you can choose it, pick it, and send it off a group of DMs or another channel to let people know. So, with Dash, you can create a public or a private Slack channel. So, those have all of the same features that a Slack channel would that would be public or private. For the private channels that means that only the people that  you have invited will land in that channel. Although you can add them manually later. And public channels can be visited by anyone and are searchable in Slack. 

[13:02]

RZ Oh so you can walk in. On that conversation. 

PJ For those conversations, you can totally walk in. So you just gotta be, you know, cognizant that that is actually the way that we want to work. 

PF “Hey everybody, we made a Dash to talk about the upcoming All Hands and what needs to— what we should be talking about.” 

MQ 100 percent. We— we built it, originally, built off of threads when we started making Dash, and we thought that was a way to get a large channel to really focus in on one specific aspect and have the motivation be pretty evident: “There needs to be a decision here, we need to end this thread here soon”. But what we found in creating it and I wrote an article for Track Changes describing this sort of big pivot where we found that the channels were too small, they weren’t— and threads were even smaller. You really need the ability to gather an entire team across your organization and do that with just one command. It’s kind of shocking that there’s no way to do that in Slack today, to create a channel and add more people it’s kind of a 20 click process. 

RZ It is a process. It’s actually oddly convoluted. I don’t know why it’s— there is no slash command today in just traditional Slack that lets you just create a channel and go? 

MQ You can start the process of it but you have to then name it and then set the visible— 

RZ The whole— yeah. 

MQ And then you have to individually invite people one by one, it’s— it’s really— In some ways, I think, Slack is trying to avoid channel glut. 

RZ Mmm. 

PF Yeah, they want you to keep it a little bit buttoned up cuz otherwise it spirals out of control. 

MQ A hundred percent which is a huge reason why we knew that these channels had to expire. 

PF Mm. 

MQ There had to be a deadline; there had to be a very easy way to clean these up. You know, putting the dash in front of the name, that’s sort of a lo fi hack to get it to the top of the list when you sort alphabetically. 

[14:38]

PF What’s worth noting too like Slack’s bread and butter is increasingly not little company like ours but 20,000 people on one giant platform all creating channels ad hoc. I mean, it’s— it’s— they’re trying to keep that under control and then this is a way to keep things really loose and lightly coordinated but then also make sure the clutter gets swept out. 

MQ And, you know, we’ve talked to people at Slack about how they use Slack themselves. And they actually have found themselves using things like the Giphy integration that sort of pops in a random image based off of a search term. They— they find they don’t use it. And the reason being is it— it’s actually kind of rude. 

PF Yeah. 

MQ For people in a channel trying to keep up with a conversation, more real estate devoted to things that are not relevant to a conversation; things that take up a lot of vertical height, you know, kind of one-off jokes, they actually get in the way of people coming back later and learning what was going on. I think back in the days when we were creating [?], another Labs project, you, Paul, came up with the term: Slack is a— a all day agendaless meeting, in reverse [Rich chuckling]. I think about that a lot, where I’m like, “Yeah, no, I have to declare— it’s like bankruptcy sometimes in certain [yeah]. Cuz there’s too much. There’s too much stuff. 

PF No, you give up. Especially if you’re managing. I have like 23 channels I need to keep an eye on and they’re just like— I hit the bottom of them but if I’ve been away for a couple of days, forget it, I’m just hoping people remember I exist. So, anyway, you know, the thing is— like I said, practical uses, right? So, how are we seeing it used? We’ve used it— HR stuff. Like it’s great for, you know, what do we think of this person? Are we ready to make the next step? It’s huge for me for things like somebody just wrote with an RFP they want us to send us a response to their proposal. Do we think this is worth it? And there’s two or three people who might be involved in that decision. And I can usually get that decision made in a couple of hours or in a day and then it’s— it’s done. Email threads hang out and then you have to go back and prompt. They don’t have that expiration date. 

RZ Well, closure. Yeah, exactly. I think that’s the key part of it. Another good one is a quick design review. I mean, yeah, you can have the big, long design review but sometimes it’s like, “I rejigged a thing, I wanna get everyone’s feedback on it. Here: I’m gonna put two comps in here. Do you like A or B?” That can be two hours but it’s so valuable. And it’s worth noting when you do that in a channel, it just gets reallowed in that channel for a second [everyone groans in agreeance] and if you haven’t been in there, and there’s been an overheat of activity, you’ll see this like— you’re 61 messages behind cuz everyone essentially had a Dash moment. 

PF God! It is good for meeting planning. Especially if we’re gonna like pitch a client. [Yup, yup] So it’s just like, “Who’s got the deck?” It just surfaces issues of ownership. So, Matt, a question for you: Slack . . . Slack has a designed experience gone out of plaid . . . there’s that one sort of ganky Verdana lookin’ font that they use everywhere that we’ve all made our peace with as the dominant interface to everything we do at work but how do you design for Slack? 

[17:30]

MQ It started with a Jamboard. We basically know what Slack looks like because— 

PF Hold on. You just gotta back that one out. 

MQ Ok. 

RZ You can’t just throw that out there. 

PF A Jamboard for people who don’t know is something that the people in your company insist you buy from Google. It costs about 400 million dollars and they [Rich laughs] use it once— 

PJ Really? They— they lowered their price a little. 

PF Yeah [chuckles] exactly. And they use it— it’s from Google, it’s a big TV that you can scribble on . . . collaboratively. And everybody uses— 

RZ It’s very good. 

PF It is really good. 

RZ I just don’t know— I don’t know why we don’t use it as much— 

PF Once every seven to 12 weeks [Rich laughs] people remember the Jamboard. 

MQ I think people really like markers. 

PF Yeah, it’s true. 

MQ But, yeah, so— so we wheeled in the Jamboard. You know, the first early discussions, sort of myself and Jeremy Mack, who’s been on the show before, and we essentially said, “What are we trying to solve for here? We’re trying to solve for this case of I gotta get four people in a room; each of them have a responsibility to what we’ve gotta make here, and we need them to— to be motivated by a deadline here. So we started out sketching what that looks like. Really thinking through, ok, this person messages this person; and then this pops up; and then this here, like— “Oh, J Mack, can you do that? Can— can we put a box there? What are our limitations here?” Because Slack is kind of a walled garden in a lot of ways. At the time— 

[18:42]

PF Well there’s no real like grid in the same way that there is with, say, a web page or a mobile app, right? 

MQ Yeah, or— or, you know, any sort of Chrome extension where you can just jam stuff in there and make some really interesting interfaces. We knew that Slack was starting to go down this road and that’s why, you know, when we started playing around more and more Block Kit, we really saw the potential of, “Oh yeah, they want apps to be built on this thing. They want an entire ecosystem of small, discrete tasks to be able to be created by a company to really get work done.” 

PF So Block Kit is a set of reusable components, things like— you know, I guess I saw Date Picker. Some text input. Things like that. 

MQ Some drop downs, some specific types of things that pull up Slack in specific ways. It’s a very unique platform. And they’ve built Block Kit in a way so that you can use these elements and they show up the same way that they do on mobile as they do on desktop as they do on the web. And so we were one of the early users of this and the newest version of it and they also had a Block Kit Builder which allowed me as a designer to go in there and just, you know, kind of futz around with stuff, try different things, DM myself things, send them out to people, show it to the channel we were in to be like, “Does this make sense? Like—” 

PF So, wait, you’re designing by chatting is what it sounds like. Like you’re sort of prototyping a conversation and going, “What if this element was here?” 

MQ Yeah and, you know, we had started on Sketch— you know, sketching that out but then we said, “Let’s actually use it on phone, let’s see how big the button is, let’s see how big the drop down is.” The Block Kit Builder was essential for that. Without that, I think, we would’ve had a much harder time getting a feel for what an app is like in Slack. 

PF Interesting so you have to think around the sort of stream of conversation, you just— you don’t— you can’t pop up Sketch and just start . . . moving rectangles around. 

MQ Yeah, and it was actually it was slower to do it that way. I would block— you know mock something up in Block Kit Builder; it would pop out some— some formatted code for J and I to drop into the app. He would say, “Oh I’m building up staging now. Let’s—” 

PF Oh! So it’ll give you some code. Like it’s— 

MQ Yeah. 

PF They really want you in this thing. 

[20:37]

PJ I mean you can even— you could even paste your mock into a Slack channel from the builder. So if you just— if it’s not even hooked up with the code, you can actually just build the buttons, label them however you like, and then paste that directly into a custom channel that you tell the web app about. 

PF Slack is weird this way cuz it often goes very, very deep but it just keeps looking like chat and funny GIFs and— 

RZ Well, I think this was— this was actually a point of debate. This— we should share this heated discussion Matt and I had. I didn’t like that it was in Slack. I felt like this was so compelling and so fundamental that people would commit to another place. And . . . Matt does this thing when I’m debating with him, he just looks you straight in the eyes and he says— 

PF [In deep, menacing tone] “I disagree.”

RZ [Deep] “I disagree.” And then there’s a long silence afterwards. And I— I wanted to debate it because I felt like we’d be fighting Slack. And I— you know, I struggled with it because I said, “You know, how are we gonna get this to be impactful? Like it’s a bolt-on, it’s like an addon to a thing. How’s this gonna resonate for people?” 

PF Just gotta let the world win, man. 

RZ Yeah— 

PF Just gotta let ‘em have it. 

RZ Yeah I guess. Share your— [laughs] Share your thoughts, Matt, in terms of why you held firm there, even though I am one of the cofounders of Postlight. 

MQ Well, to be fair to you, I think I was also firm too on a bit of a wrong call on me trying to use threads to make this work. I was really of the belief that threads was a way to create just a little bit of metadata around a discussion, make it a little light weight. Turned out it was too light weight. 

RZ It was too deep in. 

MQ Yeah. And a lot of the reason why is what you’re talking about of people expect Slack to be like channel first. And so you’ve gotta embrace the firstclass citizen of a channel and say, “Ok, let’s make those really powerful; let’s make them really accessible, put them at the top of your list, it’s kind of a hack—” 

[22:26]

RZ The channel list. 

MQ Yeah. 

PF When you only see it if you’re in it or if it’s public. 

RZ Correct. 

PJ You probably won’t even see it if it’s public unless you know about the channel. So it won’t show up on your list [it won’t show up on the list, that’s right]. But if you’re invited to one, that’ll show up. If you’ve— if you’ve made one, that’ll show up. 

PF Gotcha. So we’re not adding clutter. 

RZ Correct. 

MQ Very much against clutter. We wanted to be super respectful of the sidebar and the fact that this is— this is prime real estate, this is where work happens and— and between star channels and really thinking about, you know, “Which ones do I wanna pay attention to? Which ones have I not muted?” I really wanna make sure that we weren’t messing with that real estate. 

RZ I wanna bring up something that happened today. Actually, we had an important partners meeting. We’re presenting to the whole company in a couple of weeks. Everyone flies in. It’s a wonderful moment. There’s a lot to talk about and discuss about what’s gonna be in that presentation. And it took me a minute and I had to kinda climb over the wall to think to create a Dash. And . . . it’s funny, this is— this is real. It’s— it’s real value . . . but it is so hard to swim against your existing patterns of how you think about solving problems, to get people to make that leap, it’s a really tricky thing to do. Which I think is part of your argument, Matt, of like, “Not another app.” Like, “They’re just not gonna go— you’re gonna go back to Slack.” But then at the very end of the meeting I was like, “This should be a Dash.” And it felt like I like discovered Dash at that moment in time because you’re so used to your own . . . patterns and your own muscle memory of telling you how to work. I think once you get over that hurdle it is— it’s actually pretty addictive and we’re using it a lot here at Postlight. 

[24:01]

PF Well, I think, this is for you a big deal, right? Cuz you tend to think of things to do and then check in on them. You’ve been a manager for 15 years. 

RZ My alarm goes off when there is a meeting of four, six, seven people, and everyone says, “Great idea.” And it’s about to break up. [So—] Everyone agrees that it’s a really good idea, everyone agrees that it should happen, but there is absolutely no ownership coming out of the meeting, and it just was sort of left in there, in the middle of the room, as a great idea with a big sticker on it that says, “Great idea,” and I don’t know what’s next. When I don’t know what’s next as a manager, I freak out. And as a father, by the way. And as a husband. 

PF Yeah. 

RZ But that’s beyond the scope of this podcast. 

PJ Well, actually, my fiance and I are using Dash to do wedding planning. 

RZ Seriously? 

PJ Yeah. We have our own Slack and we actually are using it to [Rich laughing] — to figure out some wedding planning stuff. 

PF No, you told me about this cuz you need decisions. You’re working against a clock— 

RZ Wedding planning is per— I mean if there— 

PF Yeah! 

MQ I mean . . . yeah. 

RZ— is a more extreme— 

MQ It is an extreme example and she’s very supportive of the work I do. So she wanted to embrace this but— 

PF No but it’s like— you have to— I remember, you have to decide on the cake; you have to decide on the caterer; you have to— 

RZ Invitations. 

MQ Venue. Yeah, of course. 

PF Yeah. The thing that it is is digital delegation. Instead of having— making a note that you have to come back and make sure that the decision’s made— 

RZ It’s there. 

[25:20]

PF You drop this thing into the middle of the room and say, “We’re not done until it’s done.” 

RZ That’s right. That’s my fear is that it dissipates into the air at the end of that meeting and— 

PF And the goal isn’t that— it’s almost like the decision making process like sure the owner makes the decision but the thing that— that’s built into the system— but the thing it’s— it’s forcing is everyone has to kind of push towards that goal. “Should we work on this?” “Should we take this job?” “Should we go after this?” 

RZ “What are your thoughts?” We talked about this as a feature it was like if it’s too quiet in that Dash, how do we get people to— it’s like, “Guys, there’s two hours left!” 

PF Right. 

MQ Mm hmm. 

RZ “How do we like make it tell everyone, ‘Look, I need your input here. We’re gonna make a call, the train’s gonna leave,’ right?” And that’s— that is a really interesting dynamic, I mean, cuz what we’re touching on here is our classic work environment dynamics, right? 

PF Mm hmm. 

RZ That are at play. When you can be that really annoying person who’s like, “Can you just give an answer?” Like you know the walkover. When people are on their laptops and then you walk over. It’s just like, “I just need your feedback on that thing.” [Laughing] It’s not a good moment! I don’t like to do it! 

PF No, but it is— it’s a powerful tool when that channel lights up [yes] and you go, “I gotta get in there. I gotta— they asked [yes] for my feedback and I need to give it.” 

RZ Yes. 

PF It’s a little less toxic than the meeting where everything drifts and then somebody’s running around on email at 10 pm that night [yup, yup]. And it’s a little less toxic in the channel where it’s like, “Hey! I’m thinking this, what do you all think?” It’s just— it just acknowledges that there needs to be a little structure and things need to happen. 

RZ Yes. Phil! 

PJ Rich! 

[26:54]

RZ Tell me: how much does it cost to use Dash? 

PJ Dash is free forever! 

PF Oh my God! 

RZ You got ads getting injected in there! 1-800-FLOWERS and some shit! 

PJ Not— not a one. Not a one at all. 

PF Wait, did we say forever? 

PJ We did. But yeah, you can go to dashforslack.com. You can see a small demo of what it looks like, you can add it to Slack right from that web page, a little bit of authentication that happens, and then you’re good to go. 

RZ Ok, just to clarify: if you’re in a big company, you probably don’t have the rights to do that. Well you have [sure] to send it along to someone that has, I guess, admin rights for Slack or something [yeah] to get it installed. 

PJ Yup and a bigger company that has policies about privacy will really like Slack because we don’t actually record very much data about what’s happening in your conversation. So all of the conversation stuff that’s happening in your channel is not data that Postlight gets. 

RZ Got it. 

PJ So— 

RZ Very cool. 

PJ That’s an important thing to highlight actually. 

RZ Yes. 

PF So, find your admin! Talk to your admin. 

RZ Yes. 

PF Start makin’ [music fades in] some decisions for once in your life . . .

[27:55]

RZ So, Dash is just one of the many cool experiments that have come out of Postlight Labs. It’s actually— we just released a bunch at an event recently. Postlight.com/labs where you can check out all the different things we’ve talked about. 

PF Look, I mean, this is fun— 

RZ All the different things we’ve shared. 

PF We’re building things that we wanna see in the world. 

RZ Yes. Yes. 

PF We’re gettin’ there. That, to me, has always been one of the signs of success that you are . . . helping your clients; building good things for them; and then finding ideas that no client needs at that moment [mm hmm]. No one came to us and said, “I need a decision making tool for Slack.” Nobody will. 

RZ Right. 

PF That’s not what our clients need. 

RZ Yeah. 

PF But we are in an environment in which we see that and we wanna make it be real. 

RZ Yes. 

PF And we can do that. And we have a little time and we have a little flexibility now and that’s pretty cool. 

RZ It is really cool. 

PF So, if you wanna talk to us about Labs projects, if you wanna come work here and— and have some time on Labs projects and client projects, if you wanna talk to us about the kinda thinking we do and you wanna become a client, you should get in touch. 

RZ Paul, that transition right into . . . selling Postlight was just beautiful. 

PF Thank you. You know? 

RZ That was something. 

PF I really don’t know who I am anymore. 

RZ [Laughs] [email protected] Give us five stars on iTunes. Thanks so much, everyone, have a great week. 

PF That’s right. And keep an eye on postlight.com/events. There’s always another one coming up. Or there will be soon. Thanks, everybody. 

RZ Bye. 

PF Bye [music ramps up, plays alone for four seconds, fades out to end.]