Bringing people together: Meet our latest creation

An excerpt from Thoughtexchange CEO, Dave MacLeod’s recent letter to the Thoughtexchange community.

I’m excited to announce our latest creation, Thoughtexchange Professional! As many of you are aware, we’ve spent the better part of the last year and a half building this new Thoughtexchange product. It’s made to work on a phone, extremely easy to use and redesigned with the knowledge we’ve gained since the first product, then called Sophia, was created in 2009.

Thoughtexchange has always been simple. You bring people together by giving them a voice, ensuring it’s heard, and letting them learn from one another. How it gets used to make progress is not so simple. Change is hard and people don’t agree on everything. Sometimes on anything. Our job is to ensure as many people as possible can share thoughts and learn from one another as they help shape the organizations they’re part of. Thoughtexchange Professional was developed with this in mind.

Here are the four key differences you’ll see when using Thoughtexchange Professional:
1. Flow

Up until now, people who participated in a Thoughtexchange shared their thoughts and then waited a week (or more) to add stars to the thoughts of others—and then waited again to get a sense of what was important (and what was not). Our new Professional product lets people share their thoughts and immediately begin starring other thoughts. You can also now share results immediately with participants.

Why is that important? Why Thoughtexchange works is this: Exchanges bring people together by allowing them to share their thoughts, letting them learn from the thoughts of a variety of other people and finally seeing where their thinking is in relation to the rest of the group. In our current version, many people have this experience, but not everyone. The data shows us that many people only share thoughts and never come back to add stars. Others only add stars. And not everyone visits the results site to see what happened. And with a big gap of time, it’s easy to forget what you shared.

In this new product, many more participants can understand how their thoughts are being valued by their community and instantly begin learning from one another. This is a good thing.

2. DIY! (Do it yourself)

With Professional, anyone in your organization can lead fast, meaningful, one-question exchanges for a low monthly fee.

Why is this important? We believe providing many leaders with this simplified, friction-free product is the next step to help organizations empower people to deepen their culture by bringing people together quickly and often.

3. Mobile first, desktop next.

Professional is designed with your phone in mind—and it actually looks and works better there.

Why is this important? Thoughtexchange needs to be where your people are. These days, our phones are the sun and our other devices are like the planets orbiting around them. Each of us uses some assortment of tablets and laptops and desktops to do all sorts of things, but our phone is our constant companion. We knew Thoughtexchange needed to be at home there so everyone has the easiest possible time contributing to any exchange they are invited to. We hope you like the new look and feel and would love to hear your thoughts.

4. New Star: One thought at a time

Participants in exchanges done with Professional can consider one thought at a time and rate each one out of five stars. They are instructed to star between 10 and 30 thoughts, but can also keep going and see as many thoughts as they like.

Why is this important? Three different reasons:
1. Mobile first.

One thought at a time fits perfectly on a phone and nine thoughts at a time does not.

2. Understanding the process.

Ranking one thought at a time makes it easier for new participants to understand how Thoughtexchange works. Adding 15 stars to nine thoughts made sense to some people, but was challenging for others to understand.

3. Learning.

Each thought is now considered alone and in its entirety. While there are benefits to people ranking many thoughts on one page, it’s fairly common for people not to consider all of them. And it’s challenging to interpret what it means when a thought gets no stars. Was it not read? Skipped because it was similar to another? Extremely disliked? Now that every single thought is considered and ranked, participants will have a clearer idea of how their thought was valued by the group and leaders will have a clearer understanding of the group as a whole.

Our Short Letter

It took a lot of time, learning and resources to invent such a simple solution and it reminds me of the quote: “I made this (letter) very long only because I have not had the leisure to make it shorter.” This new product is the short letter we have been working on for seven years. With some quick, powerful training on asking great exchange questions, leaders trying to make progress on all sorts of issues can now use Thoughtexchange with their teams. Our hope is you’ll find that Professional is the perfect companion to our Enterprise product.

About the Author

Dave MacLeod

As the CEO of Thoughtexchange, Dave provides product vision, team leadership and well-timed jokes. He has been focused on supporting his team as they continue to grow the company to help more and more organizations around the world bring people together by leading challenging conversations about things that matter.

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