Involving people in long email chains is not collaboration, it is bureaucracy! So it’s time to simplify things as much as possible cautions Alper Cakir in this TecHRseries interview.
Catch the complete story to unlock his thoughts on what it’s like building a tech product that’s the right fit and what his observations while doing so have been, so far:
Tell us a little about yourself Alper, how did the idea of Xtensio come about – what is your biggest vision and plan for 2020 with Xtensio?
We had started our creative agency Fake Crow in Los Angeles in 2009. Xtensio was initially a side project within the agency. Over time it got bigger and we decided to put more resources into it. Eventually it became a standalone company. We have been organically growing and we believe 2020 will be a key year for us. We aim to help more businesses than ever this year.
What other collaboration tools would you advise teams to use, to boost productivity especially during these uncertain times due to the global pandemic?
Collaboration can happen when teams are together or when they are distributed. It depends on transparency and adaptability. We try to choose tools and platforms that enable quick and easy communication. We care less about rules and processes. We depend on the human factor; the belief that we’ll figure it out together. For this reason we choose solutions that give us more flexibility. Trello, Slack and Xtensio for example are good examples for this mentality.
In your journey in tech so far, what are some of the biggest leadership/team building lessons you’ve learnt?
I am learning that every stage is very different. Early on, when the team is smaller, everything is less defined. It is easier to make bigger moves. As the idea (and the company) matures you need to start depending more on your team than yourself. Instead of solving problems you help others come up with solutions. You try to enable them, they take more responsibility and pull yourself forward. If you are doing a good job, your team evolves with you, rising up to the occasion.
We’d love some of your thoughts on building / scaling sales and marketing teams for (product) companies- what are some of your top tips for hiring/building a strong marketing/sales unit here?
We still don’t have a sales team. And our marketing team is a mix match of people with User Success, Engineering and Content roles. We are all about building the right product with the right growth mindset which has let us come this far. Generalists are more likely to help you succeed early on. I try to hire people who love learning and evolving. Resumes tell you only so much, at some point you need to give people the chance to shine. In most cases they surprise me (and themselves).
What would your top 5 tips/must-haves be to teams using interactive presentations and documents for improved internal and external communication strategies?
I would suggest having less documentation to start with. We need to empower people and then let them do their best work. Transparency is very important, too. Everyone should have access to information as easily as possible. Keeping everyone up to date becomes a struggle as the team gets larger, giving them a structured place where they can easily find what they need becomes critical. Regardless of what you do you are building a brand, a way to keep your brand intact is crucial to building something that lasts. We thrive to answer all these with Xtensio.
How do you feel collaboration tools have changed how globally distributed teams work and function – what are some of the traditional team collaboration strategies you would tell teams to maintain even if they use technology to boost communication – there are some things that should remain from yesteryear afterall.
Involving people in long email chains is not collaboration, it is bureaucracy. Simplify things as much as possible. Nobody is impressed with flashy, animated slides. They take ages to make, even more ages to update just to be forgotten a few hours later. Get to the point, make it sincere. We don’t have time for pseudo ‘professional’ jargon. Cut to the chase.
If you could change 5 (mundane) things about employee practices/collaboration practices in B2B/tech companies, what would they be?
Review the things you and your team are doing for completing a task. If you can cut out some of the micro tasks and the project still gets done you should definitely do so. For us we try to create shorter specs but instead keep the communication lines open between teams during the project. Be data informed but still make the final decision yourself, don’t let data dictate the next move. Listen more, but if there is too much repetition stop listening, act faster. Always over deliver; It is never about the task but always about why you are doing it. Work for the impact not the deliverable. And most importantly be a good person.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
There are lots of smart people out there. Anyone who is building a disruptive company with a million unknowns is worth listening to.
A few tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic
We are all in this together. Ask for help, offer help. I believe that we will come out with wisdom (and some course correction) as the human kind. This is the first time we are realizing that we have more common things than the things that differentiate us. We are realizing that we can’t keep doing what we have been doing. We can’t say ‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game’, we are the players that make (or rewrite) the game. Let’s use this as an opportunity to define a better, more just game that everyone can benefit from. It is not a winner takes all game, it’s about sharing, enjoying and thriving together.
Xtensio is a strategy and communications platform where anyone can easily create, manage, share and present professional business collateral. Teams collaborate on documents, presentations, proposals, reports, sales sheets and other strategic exercises in real-time. Start with a template or create your own. The editor works like a web builder so it’s easy to add images, videos, tables and other interactive modules. Drag and drop, resize, change backgrounds, and specify colors and fonts to match your brand. The best part is that the deliverables created on Xtensio are living documents (folios). Share the public link with colleagues and clients so everyone is always up-to-date, without the email attachments. Present a digital slideshow or export a PDF/PNG. All your work is organized on a private, branded team dashboard so you can keep the work flowing from anywhere.
Alper Cakir is the Co-founder and CEO at Xtensio. He is also one of the founders and creative director at Fake Crow, a product consultancy and UX design agency.