Enable knowledge to grow over time with AsyncABC

The more useful stuff you have in a well-organized, densely interconnected team information system, the richer your interactions can become.

A great TIM can be like a beautiful garden where things can stack up, grow and interweave in ways that would be impossible without the right environment.

(photo by Cherry Laithang via Unsplash)

Ok, Michał. Colorful metaphors are nice, but what do I do?

Glad you asked!

Try this three step loop which I call AsyncABC:

  1. Align to needs
  2. Package information into useful Blocks
  3. Connect everything

A: Align to needs

As Tom & Kai Gilb like to say “Start by quantifying stakeholder value“. As Mike Burrows likes to say “Done is when someone’s need was met”. As the creators of the Agile Manifesto decided to say regarding low-value work “Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.“.

Whetever we do it’s practical to avoid work no one cares about so that we can deliver the best possible results in the areas people do care about.

Some useful questions to ask yourself in this context are:

  • Who cares about this? Why do they care?
  • and Who’s life will be better after we do this?

B: Package information into Blocks

Whenever you handle a piece of information ask yourself:

  • Where will this be most useful?

If you’re using a consistent information architecture across tools you might already have the answer. If not, one good way is to organize your information according to actionability, for example into PPR: projects, playbooks and resources.

  • Projects – information about the things you’re doing right now, you commited to doing soon or you’re considering doing in the near future. On an Agile team this is your backlog.
  • Playbooks – things like your Definition of Done, various Standards and Checklist – algorithms and methods to get specific kind of things done, that you use often to drive action.
  • Resources – everything else that might be useful, but is not immediately actionable in any way.

This is a big topic which we’ll explore a lot more in the future. For now I direct you to the resources that were my biggest inspirations for this step: Andy Matuschak’s Evergreen Notes and Tiago Forte’s PARA method.

C: Connect everything

The number of connections in a network scales with the square of the number of nodes. Acording to Metcalfe’s Law so does the value of the network.

This can also apply to your team information system: over time the value of (perhaps unanticipated) connections will become bigger than the raw content itself.

For this reason it’s worth a minute or two of extra time after creating or updating a block of information to adopt a curator mindset and connect the block to wherever it will be most useful:

  • by creating simple links,
  • gathering related blocks into lightweight collections
  • and over time chunking them up into higher-level concepts.

PS. Check out our free e-mail mini-course that will help you reduce meeting overload with async.