Independent Thinking Blog

Companies Need to Get Better at Subtraction

Buffer recently sunset its optimal scheduling tool.

I loved the tool. It was a handy way to identify the best times to schedule posts on different social platforms. Want to schedule 5 Twitter posts a day? Here’s the best time for you. Need to schedule 1 Instagram post? Try this time.

But now it’s gone, and there’s nothing else out there quite the same.

This post isn’t about the optimal scheduling tool per se. It’s about addition—and subtraction.

Companies are good at addition.

Job Creep Starts with "Plus"

Usually, businesses add on tasks and responsibilities. Maybe you had one full-time job, but now you’ve also been assigned to a product development team or asked to pitch in on a large proposal. Or maybe you were mostly focused on marketing, and then responsibility for managing social media got added—because, well, someone has to do it.

It’s job creep.

Buffer seems to get this. The company has been working on developing a suite of products, essentially building out from its (awesome) social media scheduling base. But doing this takes resources, including employee time.

To shift focus and stay focused, something has to go.

Programming is complicated.

It’s not enough to build a great product, especially one that interacts with a whole host of other constantly changing programs (i.e., social media platforms). You have to give it constant care and attention to tweak the insides to make sure it works seamlessly for your users.

(We’ve now reached the limit of my vast programming expertise.)

The optimal scheduling tool isn’t the only Buffer product that’s come and gone. I was also quite fond of the power scheduler—and that’s morphed into something else.

The point: You can’t do everything, at least not well. You have to prioritize. Job creep, like scope creep, is a real challenge. If you’re going to add something to your staff’s workload, what can you take away?

PS: I have a guest post over at Solo PR PRO, Sometimes Your Best Response Is To Let Go, on giving yourself permission to let things go.

Plus by dreamsjung (Flickr); feature photo by Mark Morgan Trinidad B (Flickr).

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