Will Critchlow: Founder of Distilled, fan of whisky, basketball and food (in almost any order), husband, father. These are my personal thoughts and not necessarily the views of Distilled (or anyone else).
You can find me on Twitter @willcritchlow or my company blog.
Wow. That’s a boring title. Could I have come up with a worse title?
You already know I’m a geek. Well, when I read Wil Reynolds’ recent post on issues with various bonus structures he’s tried, this was the first thing I thought about. You’ll want to read Wil’s post before continuing here in order for anything to make sense.
At university, I studied game theory (my thesis was on combinatorial auction theory - a brilliant, often NP-complete branch of auction theory). I try really hard not to apply it to everyone I meet all the time.
Having said that, I’ve had to learn how to act in social situations, and game theory is actually pretty great for this (see a beautiful mind).
In many situations, the key is to view life as a series of events taking place over time rather than one-off experiments (it is this that “fixes” the prisoners’ dilemma). And it was to this that I turned when reading Wil’s post.
(Before I get into the meat of my thoughts, note that I don’t believe we have compensation completely right at Distilled - but that’s a post for another day). Here are the game theory issues that sprang to mind for me when I read Wil’s post:
(*) ignoring all the 1% debate for now - that’s another post
It seems like some of this can be fixed by tying bonuses to individual performance, but there are issues here too:
Ignoring the theory, the practicalities of determining appropriate reward systems are also complicated by the fact that the people in charge of small businesses skew towards higher risk / faster change / less certainty than average. I find it can be an area where it’s hard to put yourself in others’ shoes.
I’m going to be doing loads more thinking about this. Thank you Wil for being so amazingly open in your post and I hope to have more fruitful discussions about this stuff.
[Sidenote - I wrote this post today on the Distilled blog and the kind of reasoning I refer to above is the stuff I was talking about in the “heads-up” part of the leadership section.]
I have been hugely impressed by Launchrock. I initially thought it sounded like the perfect example of Feature Not A Company but I’ve been convinced that if what they have is a feature, it’s one that should be present in every email provider’s toolkit.
In particular, I’d like Mailchimp to buy them please.
Yesterday, we ran a "ship-a-thon" at Distilled (like a hackday, but designed to be more inclusive of everyone who isn’t a developer / designer - the idea being that we all spent the day shipping stuff to make the company better).
I worked with 4 colleagues to ship an internal alpha launch of a product we are calling “DistilledU” - a learning platform for internet marketing. The first thing we shipped (in good “lean startup” methodology style) was a pre-launch landing page. Obviously we could have built this pretty easily on our own, but I was very impressed by how easy Launchrock made it to create a great-looking page with all kinds of embedded social sharing etc. and a 43% conversion rate.
Yes. You read that right. So far we have had getting on for 1,000 sign-ups at a 43% conversion rate.
I was amazed by the tweets it generated and the great feedback loop that resulted in ever-more signups. When you combine that with the analytics in the back-end, really the only thing missing is integration with Mailchimp. So - to Mailchimp - I don’t care if it’s a feature, I’d like it integrated - even if you have to buy it.