“You can find it in the Google Drive”

“You can find it in the Google Drive” is a banned phrase at Whetstone. As a company leader, I’ve made a conscious effort to make Whetstone’s culture flexible -- everybody’s got unlimited paid time off, and we can work from home or leave early pretty much anytime we want to accommodate daycare pickups and dentist appointments. In general, I try not to be a tyrant, but I did make a tyrannical (albeit necessary) move when I placed an absolute BAN on this phrase: “You can find it in the Google Drive.”

If you haven’t already stopped reading, you may be wondering why I’m devoting an entire blog post to something as mundane as a Google Drive. Well, mundane as it may seem, “You can find it in the Google Drive” is a direct contradiction of Whetstone’s company values.

Whetstone-ism #1: Make it easy.

Whetstone has 5 core values, but the one I credit with bringing us the majority of our success is hospitality. Everyone has a different definition of hospitality, but at Whetstone we distill it down to this: “Let me make that easy for you.”

When I think of the best dinner parties I’ve ever attended, what made them great was that the host made me feel like everything was a breeze. I knew exactly where to put my coat, where to get a drink, which person I should talk to because we have “this, this, and that” in common. A great host makes it easy for me to have a good time at their party, and that’s what we want Whetstone to feel like for Whetstone users and team members alike.

So, what does this have to do with a Google Drive? Well, the drive itself isn’t the problem. The problem is the You can find it part of the phrase, “You can find it in the Google Drive.” The problem is sending someone to hunt for something that you could have shared with them directly in a matter of two clicks. When you welcome someone to your home for a dinner party, do you say, “Dinner’s in the fridge; go ahead and heat it up in the microwave when you get hungry”? No. Of course you don’t say that. If the goal of a dinner party is to make your guests happy so that they come back, isn’t it much easier to get that outcome by saying, “Dinner will be served shortly; here’s a beer, come join us in the living room.”

It’s the same with the Google Drive. If I want someone to do something with my document, isn’t it easier to get that outcome by just sending them the document directly?

Whetstone-ism #2: It’s really easy to make it easy for people.

As I write this blog post, I know that I’m going to send it to a team member to copy edit. I could write an email that goes like this:

  • “Hi Allison, my blog post is ready for you to edit. You can find it in the Google Drive.”

OR, I could write an email that goes like this:

  • “Hi Allison, my blog post is ready for you to edit. Here’s a link to the document.”

Whetstone-ism #3: When you make it easy, you get the results that you want.

The difference between these emails is subtle, but important. By taking the extra 5 seconds to link the document, I can:

  • Convey to Allison that I think her time is just as valuable as my time; that we are equally important contributors to Whetstone
  • Get my document edited faster by (i) reducing the amount of time Allison has to spend finding the document and (ii) by giving her a clear action to take -- Click the link. Telling her to go find the document herself in the Google Drive is akin to saying, “Edit the document when you get around to it.”

By simply linking a document, I’ve reiterated to Allison that I value her, and I get the outcome I want -- my edited document -- faster than I would otherwise.

Are you sure this matters?

Libby, seriously? How long does it really take to find something in a Google Drive?

You’re right, it takes about minute to find something in a Google Drive. The time lost searching for a document isn’t what matters; what matters is that, in my experience, “You can find it in the Google Drive” is a bellwether of a company’s culture. I’ve worked at companies where that phrase felt like punishment. It felt like hearing the other person say, “My job is more important than yours” or “Your time is not valuable.” It felt like hearing, “We are not teammates.”

It’s SO easy for office relationships to become strained. Whether it’s peer to peer or manager to subordinate, the stress inherent in a workplace is enough to manage on its own. If you can reduce that stress by taking 5 additional seconds to link a document in an email, why wouldn’t you?

Beyond employee morale, if you’re in the habit of making life easy on your teammates, then you’re probably going to make life easy on your clients. And when you make life easy for your clients, they’re more likely to tell their friends about your product, renew their subscription each year, and pay their invoices on time. What have you got to lose?