Others claim the enterprise collaboration space is crowded and that Asana is entering a challenging field. I disagree. From their statements, Asana is looking to tackle much more than enterprise collaboration. They want to improve worker productivity by rethinking and improving the way we work today. Even eliminating email! That’s a noble cause and should be applauded.
“The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th Century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the MANUAL WORKER in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st Century is similarly to increase the productivity of KNOWLEDGE WORK and the KNOWLEDGE WORKER.” Peter F. Drucker
My Take on Asana
Thoughts, suggestions and comments:
#1 They claim to be using the solution internally, but are still hiring designers and engineers to tackle extremely complex technology issues. Therefore, the solution they are using is either half baked or in a primitive form too early to show you and I.
#2 They’ll need to examine hundreds of use cases from many different industries to understand how to build a platform to support a variety of needs.
#3 The solution must address unstructured data issues. Converting unstructured data content to structured content in order to report on it and reuse it is critical.
#4 There should be a mobile strategy to capture, record and structure content from mobile devices. When I complete a task or work item, allow me to quickly update it via mobile.
#5 It has to connect with my online profiles from Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace etc and understand how to leverage my business relationships. For example, allow me to quickly find topical experts to issues I am having in the workplace.
#6 In order to help eliminate email the solution must connect me with individuals and groups automatically and contextually in the optimal communication vehicle. For example, if I want to start a project, the solution should quickly build out the project infrastructure (project page, dashboards, reports, etc), then after checking team calendars, find the optimal available team (based on experience, individual ratings, etc.), then notify the team and their managers of their new responsibilities. This should happen in minutes.
#7 New corporate technology adoption requires a holistic approach to integrating game changing solutions. It’s not just about the technology, it’s about how the company will need to change to support it.
#8 The solution must address the age old problem of how to ensure work is aligned with corporate objectives. So what if you are making me more efficient. How do I know that I should be doing this work?
#9 Capture and record repeatable work and allow me to easily reuse it. If I’ve created a best practice in operations, allow me to easily share that information with my colleagues. In some respects, a virtual trainer and coach.
#10 Make my coworkers and I more innovative. Making me more productive is great, but I also want to be more innovative in the way I work. Teach me shortcuts and best practices to completing my work more effectively.
Today’s knowledge workers have many activities beyond the ones described in their job description that sap time and remove their concentration, thus impacting productivity. I’m not sure how Asana plans to minimize these intrusions, but it’s increasingly becoming a major productivity drain and needs to be addressed.
Other companies, some already successful, have taken a hard look at the intrusion problem and have not made any headway.
In my experience, a technological solution can work, but only by a company willing to push the boundaries and take some risks. Great break throughs in productivity need a catalyst.
In a start up (even a well funded one) risky, bleeding edge technologies that are far ahead of their time rarely work, but paradoxically may be the only way to solve this issue.
Read Part I What is Asana.com and Will it Change the Way We Work?
(Cross-posted @ Seek Omega)