How to get people to do things together? Building and doing things in real world.

Been thinking and reading (again) about the real challenges with trying to solve problems in a group. Thanks to these two tweets, which I stumbled upon, two days apart.

Rabbit hole, here I go.

They say if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. My experience confirms that going with people are quite. damn. slow. And I don’t like (most) people. That’s why I go alone when I have choice.

But hey, for 40 hours a week I still want to help the organisation I’m part of, go far. And it’s a nice challenge that I’m still itching to crack on a daily basis.

Apologies this post is a bit scattered but hopefully some of the ideas resonated.

(The following are my takeaways from all the Twitter discussions, articles, and book summaries I read on this mini episode of obsession. Click here to find all the links and excerpts)

A couple of questions and thoughts popped into my head

Such a well thought out written article by Jade. These nuggets make me think:

Synthesised and paraphrased the first tweet’s whole thread + replies + conversation.

Probably the most important skill you can have is the ability to get a big group of people to agree to working on the same thing for a prolonged period of time.

The second most important skill is coordinating the effort of all those you convinced so that it scales well with the number of people. Organizations are the best technology we’ve invented as humans.

For all you out there working on something right now: Let others see why you’re doing it and join you in working on it. Show why it’s desirable and make it easy for others to build on top of your work.

What helps: empathy, ability to listen, to compromise and choose among tradeoffs. Persistence. Lots and lots of repetition and persistence. And repetition.

Starting a project involving multiple people:

Then came across this somewhat relevant tweet.

Yes, catching up through a doc is sometimes slower than “jumping into a call”, especially for senior leadership who is too busy… with all the meetings.

What might help here is having a central place to get and make decisions. But I agree nothing beats the ability to “pull” information more efficiently by asking questions, instead of following the linear documentation, especially ones without robust structure. High fidelity.


it’s hard to get folks to read/give feedback without that formal slot

To be good at documentation culture, you need to make it clear why the document is relevant and valuable for them. What’s in it for them?

There’s doc around, but nobody has time to maintain it because of all the meetings.

Docs need owners.

we need meetings to create the doc, then update the doc

Paralysis by consensus.

Many of our meetings are recorded so folks can engage async and revisit / reference content.

Ben posted a question about military but very relevant for decision making process (as I’m already putting this lens on).

Interesting replies

There’s some truth in this. it’s the same idea with Steve Jobs and Obama’s choice of clothes and food. Deliberate constraints in specific areas enable us to deal with complexity/chaos in other areas.

Constraints guide strategy. Training guides execution.

Which led me to this book, Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal. Found a summary of the book:

My summary:

Want to read this book.

Coherence and intentionality. They are what they are. They have organizational self-awareness. Their actions match their words.

Many teams are in limbo.

A new leader arrives pushing for a new strategy. The new strategy seems good on the surface but lacks depth; it’s not explicit and coherent. The existing (“old”) strategy is implicit. No one can explain it, or why things are they way they are, but somehow people have internalized it. There’s so much inertia and ambiguity.

Thinking back to my own experience building the SA team. The team was able to scale because I prioritised providing 1) principles to make decision on their own. Less latency, less friction, less bottlenecks. 2) a set of tools and systems to do the tasks more easily, and 3) references to find out things that they should know.

Originally published at Proses.ID.



This is where I ask questions and talk to myself | Backend web dev, web scraping, Robotics Process Automation | Blogs at

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Theresia Tanzil

This is where I ask questions and talk to myself | Backend web dev, web scraping, Robotics Process Automation | Blogs at