About the Episode
Welcome to Practically Speaking, the monthly show where hosts Ryan and Lindsay talk about the topics that changemakers, digital leaders, and innovators like you care about most. On this month’s episode, Lindsay and Ryan discuss balancing Q4 priorities with 2023 prep, how the most optimized organizations use no-code, and the ways paper costs us billions in time and money every year.
Meet Our Guest
Our featured Genius Spotlight guest was Philip Lakin, co-founder and CEO of the no-code tool Switchboard. His career growth has been fueled by no-code, leading him to launch NoCodeOps, the first community dedicated to operations professionals leveraging no-code to reimagine internal innovation. Listen to his episode Move from Inspiration to Impact Faster with No-Code now.
Ryan Grieves: Lindsay, what's top of mind for you as we close out this year?
Lindsay McGuire: Well, it's pretty wild that it's already November. I feel like Q4 always just flies by, but now time is just this weird conundrum where things feel very, very fast and yet still very, very slow at the same time. I don't know, maybe it's just like post COVID feelings, who knows? But one thing I've been thinking about and that I actually talked about in last month's Practically Genius insider newsletter, which if you're not a subscriber yet, please subscribe, there's great content in there and it aligns perfectly with Practically Speaking and Genius Spotlights. One thing I talked about was this idea of taking the time now before things get really, really, really crazy with holidays to think about the habits you're doing, the processes you're putting in place, and how you're setting yourself up for success in 2023. Ryan, I know you are a huge advocate for that, for just our team in general and even Formstack as an organization. So talk a little bit about what's on your mind as we enter 2023, crazy.
Ryan Grieves: Yeah, I think, and we'll dive into a little bit as far as what people... How prepared they're feeling for next year. But I think from our side right now, it's how do we close out the year strong and also set ourselves up starting the year strong in 2023? And so what I'm thinking a lot about is, how do we get more efficient as a team? How do we build in processes, documentation, building more asynchronous work and communications so we can scale?
Because if you're adding more people, or more processes, or more programs, you need those things in place so you can bring them on those new people and they can hit the ground running and anyone can pick up a process because it's documented well. So those are the big things for me as well as what tests can we run in Q4 from a marketing perspective that might inform some big bets and some strategy for next year? Those are some of the top of minds for me as well as already getting into Black Friday, Cyber Monday, all the Christmas sales that are coming up. You didn't ask about that, but that's also something on my mind.
Lindsay McGuire: Have you made your shopping list yet?
Ryan Grieves: No, no.
Lindsay McGuire: Are you a Black Friday shopper?
Ryan Grieves: I would like to say that I'm not, but it always intrigues me. I always have to hit the websites for a little bit. No, I do not go out actually to the stores. You won't catch me in any physical store on Black Friday. I don't know why you would sign yourself up for that. But I will peruse the online stores because they start bleeding into Thanksgiving on those sales it seems like every year.
Lindsay McGuire: Yeah, as a past retail worker of nearly a decade, Black Friday is my absolute nightmare in a lot of different ways, so definitely not on my radar either. But I do like reading about the chaos post Black Friday, so that's always fun.
Ryan Grieves: Yes, I like to look at it from afar but not actually experience it myself.
Lindsay McGuire: Yeah, and one other thing I think a lot of people are probably starting to think about too is that idea of the async communications and how we can start finding other channels for communications that don't include a meeting. There seems to be a lot of meeting burnout in the world and redefining what requires a meeting and putting processes and like you said, documentation even in place that kind of gives some guardrails on what distinctively requires a Slack message, or an email, or a team debrief or an all team meeting. And I find that super interesting too of, we're talking a lot I think this season about doing more with less and trying to make the most of your resources. And I think meetings is a big pain point for a lot of people.
Ryan Grieves: It is yeah, it's the silent killer of an organization, just the efficiencies that... And meetings are just the front and center culprit in a lot of ways. But your inefficient processes, your inefficient meetings, your inefficient... Just communication and collaboration across organizations. How much time pain and resources that are being eaten up. And I think a lot of leaders that are probably listening to this podcast are being tasked with, how do you become more efficient? You might not be getting those additional resources you thought were going to come, you might not be getting that additional head count or two that you thought. How do we get more efficient with what we have? And hopefully we'll be tackling that in great deal this season and we're definitely thinking about it a lot on our end and experiencing that ourselves.
So I'm kind of interested in, as we move through this quarter and into 2023, I know we're not the only ones out there thinking about this end of the year, how do we end this year strong and hit our stride as we head into 2023? In this past month's Practically Genius Insider newsletter, we asked folks how prepared they're feeling about going into 2023. Lindsay, can you walk us through a little bit of those results?
Lindsay McGuire: Yeah, I was honestly very surprised. Maybe this is a reflection on myself, I don't know. But when we asked that question about how prepared are you feeling going into 2023, 35% of people actually said, "Great, bring on 2023." They're feeling super prepared and ready and.
Ryan Grieves: Who are these people?
Lindsay McGuire: Right, like please connect.
Ryan Grieves: I want to meet them. I want to meet them, how they are feeling that strong already about 2023.
Lindsay McGuire: Yeah, especially just with... And I don't have to really say this but I'll say it. There's just a lot of doom and gloom around. There's a lot of stress and pressure and for the fact that that was the leading response, 35% was the highest response rate across the four options we provide people in this poll. So I was just kind of like, "Whoa, okay." But I will say, the next highest answer response was 26%of people said, "Okay, still so much to do." But they still said okay though. So I mean people are still feeling pretty good going into 2023. And I don't know, did that surprise you that the two top answers were feeling pretty good about 2023?
Ryan Grieves: I think so. It just feels like so many things are still in flux as it relates to the economy, hiring, probably budgets. You're trying to figure out from a financial perspective how you're going to end the year and how that might impact any goals and budgeting for the following year. And so it is quite surprising that a healthy amount of people are feeling great, if not just at least okay about heading into next year and already have some plans, which is great and kudos to you. I'm trying to get there myself as marketing leader here at Formstack. We're obviously well underway with planning for next year, but yeah, also still very much buried in Q4 and how do we close this year out strong? And so it definitely stood out to me, but it was pretty interesting as far as the amount of people that had strong feelings heading into next year.
Lindsay McGuire: I would be interested to see, we won't run this poll again, we'll run a different poll to go along with next month's Practically Genius Insider. But I would be interested to see, so this poll I'm pretty sure went up before the end of Q3, so it would be kind of fascinating to see if people have shifted a little bit with the results and outcomes of Q3 because just with my few conversations with people at different organizations, it sounded like Q3 overall has definitely dipped even more compared to Q1 and Q2. So I don't know if that would impact people's response here as well of, oh no, we actually came off of a rough quarter and really need to focus on Q4, and I'm not even... 2023, I'm thinking about it. But you have to close out that year strong. So I don't know if you have any advice about your department leader, how can you balance between the goals you need to achieve right now in this last quarter and closing out the year, and also that huge lift of 2023 yearly planning. That's a lot.
Ryan Grieves: It is, it's always the chaos of this end of the year every single year. But I think it's trying to strike the right balance as far as knowing what you prepared ahead of time to have a strong quarter in Q4 and realizing that most you're probably going to do in Q4 is run those test campaigns, put new projects in flight. Or it might just be you are going to be testing some things. As I mentioned earlier, you're going to be testing stuff that might inform strategy for the following year. But realistically stuff that if you're just now getting it off the ground here in the middle of Q4, it's probably not realistically going to hit performance for Q4. And so really you're trying to set yourselves up for what you're doing and learning in Q4 as well as your overall fiscal year planning. It's really, you're starting to think about Q1, Q2, and into next year at this stage, just from a strategy perspective
Lindsay McGuire: Balance. It always comes down to how do you balance.
Ryan Grieves: Mm-hmm.
Lindsay McGuire: Well, and speaking of testing, there's an upcoming Genius Spotlight episode with Phil Laken who is the founder of No Code Ops. And a lot of his episode talks about testing and in relation to how No Code tools can allow people to test new ideas, new innovations, new MVPs and processes. So I kind of want to just talk a little bit about what he said and then kind of go in the conversation with you about No Code. Because obviously that's a big part of our world at Formstack too. What I thought was really fascinating about that conversation with Phil is this idea that you don't have to have any technical skills or expertise, and anyone in any department, any role, can find these fairly inexpensive and fairly easy to understand tools to be able to build out processes to test.
And even if that No Code tool isn't your end all be all for what you're trying to do, it's such an excellent way to, like you said, have a tool that you can spin something up quickly instead of like two, three, four weeks plus of working with IT, working with devs and whoever else needs to be at the table. You can have the single tool be able to create and craft a process and have it working in days. I mean, that's really amazing. And I know in our own research with the 2022 State of Digital Maturity report, we found this actually to be true in how digitally mature organizations are. So the more digitally mature an organization, the more likely they are to use No Code tools. So Ryan, I'd love for you to talk a little bit about why that is, and what's the correlation between being a more optimized and efficient organization and having No Code tools at your disposal?
Ryan Grieves: If you think about the last five to 10 years, more organizations are starting to adopt these type of tools from CMS solution like a web flow, which we at Formstack are customers of that. So you don't have to be beholden to a developer to make changes in your website. Our marketing team, non-developers on our marketing team can make those changes to our website in minutes, which is great. I know Lindsay, you're a big fan of being able to control your own destiny and make changes to the content on the website. All the way over to your Formstacks of the world, which is obviously automating the data collection, automating your invoices through document generation and contracting as well as e-signature. And we see a lot of folks adopting these kinds of tools because it puts solutions in the hands of people that are actually closest to the problem or closest to your customers.
And as we found out and as we were well aware, speed is definitely a differentiator. And this idea of coming from a problem or idea to a solution in a pretty quick amount of time is so critical. Not having to sit into a developer queue or awaiting IT. I will preface and put a big caveat around that. Obviously there needs to be as shadow IT and folks bringing in different tools across your organization. Obviously governance is a huge thing here on making sure that these work really well with the rest of your systems, that there's no security or compliance issues, but past that point, these tools allow your organization to grow at a much faster rate, solve problems at a much faster rate.
We saw in speaking of that data from the state of digital maturity, that 84% of those optimized organizations, so the most leading digitally enabled organizations, provide employees with No Code tools. The flip side of that is 64% of the actual respondents to the survey who don't have access to No Code tools want to have them. So you see the organizations themselves that are leading providing these tools, and then you see the vast majority of respondents that don't have access to them, want to have access to them because they know that they can solve their own problems and be able to create solutions that impact their every day and employer experience as well as ultimately your customers', patients', students' experience as well.
Lindsay McGuire: I think in Phil's episode, he uses the word superpower and No Code gives you superpowers. And it sounds a little cheesy, but it really is true. And he really digs into how No Code gives people superpowers. And how you can use it to not only improve your organization, but just even your day to day. It's just so powerful if you really dig into it. And one other thing I'll point out too that you brought up is talking about that governance, the shadow IT. Working alongside IT to ensure that you can have the tools you need at your disposal, but they're not having issues across the organization or replacing things that don't need to be replaced, things like that.
So a little bit of a spoiler alert, but if you want to get more into that content and that kind of idea of how do you create tech governance, how do you control not having your tech stack just bloat and get huge because that's not good either, right? There needs to be a balance between these easily accessible tools and the things that you use across your organization and not having duplicate efforts, duplicate tools. That's a lot of money too. If you have three tools that do the same thing across different orgs, like no, no, no. But if you want to dig more into this topic, Roseanne's episode, she's from Campbell University, her episode will dig right into that topic. So thank you for having that perfect play into tech governance.
Ryan Grieves: Well, great. Well now comes the segment of the show I actually love the most and what we do the best. We hate on paper, more so just paper processes. I actually still really enjoy paper books. I still have a physical notebook. But paper processes, we are not alone in this noble pursuit. Lindsay, I think you came across something recently that was pretty interesting. You want to share a little bit about that?
Lindsay McGuire: Yes. So the US Chamber of Commerce actually put out a massive report about how terrible paper is. Like, can I get a Hallelujah? Thank you. Thank you. So they recently created this report that essentially is about digitization and why governments should choose digitization. And actually they even go further to say how there needs to be laws and regulations around the use of digitization and eliminating paper processes. So this report is called Government Digitization, Transforming Government to Better Serve Americans. And they have some really wild stats, even to me and you, I mean we are like OG paper haters, and yet these stats are still like, wow, this is bonkers. So a few of the stats are, it costs Americans $117 billion for using paper forms through government interactions.
Ryan Grieves: With a B.
Lindsay McGuire: With a B, that's billion, which I can't even... Like, that's so many zeros. And then if you want to go into the hours, this one is also just insane. So just think about it. They're going to the DMV or BMV, depending where you live, I don't know why the acronym is different, seems like it should be the same no matter where you live. Or you're going to go update some kind of voter registration or things. I know in Indian, voting's coming up so maybe you're going to go in and change your voter registration. But think about all the paper forms you have to fill out to do that. Like, all the paper forms. Apparently, according to this report, the public spends 10.5 billion hours filling out paper forms.
Ryan Grieves: Unbelievable.
Lindsay McGuire: It is unbelievable.
Ryan Grieves: This should be illegal. I mean, I know there's other atrocities out there that we need to deal with as a society, but this is pretty strong. That is a lot of wasted money, a lot of wasted time. What are we doing? It's 2022, why are we still stuck on paper based anything?
Lindsay McGuire: Yes, exactly. Because no one likes it. And it's obvious from this report that it wastes time, it wastes money, it frustrates people, and makes things so complicated. I really want to irk people with this one. So let's talk about taxes. Everyone loves talking about taxes, right? So exciting, so sexy. Well apparently, if you do your taxes through a paper based tax form, which a lot of people actually still do, my dad is religious about this. It's so weird. My dad always does his taxes through paper. Very strange, very bizarre. But whatever, have your small, simple pleasures, Dad I guess, I don't know. But if you do take the paper route, it takes the IRS an average of eight months to process that tax return. If you're relying on your tax return money, that is atrocious.
Ryan Grieves: Well, what we know is people's lives are easier. We can cut costs, we can create efficiency, and we can reduce waste. We can all do our part out there to eliminate paper processes. Brought to you by Formstack.
Hey, we want to hear more about your paper hating stories. So we know we're not alone. We know we experience this anywhere from our mortgage process into the back office of a lot of different workplaces. Share with us on your social, tagging Formstack, #PaperHaters. Share your stories. We want to see them, we want to hear about them. Let's commiserate together and figure out how we can overcome big paper.
Lindsay McGuire: I can't wait to hear them because I know there's just so many bonkers stories out there. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of Practically Speaking.
Ryan Grieves: Be sure to subscribe to Practically Genius Insider newsletter. Lindsay, can you give us a little sneak peek at what's to come?
Lindsay McGuire: Yes, of course. It is all about No-code. I was super inspired by the upcoming Genius Spotlight episode featuring Phil, which will be out this Thursday. So I hope you listen, let me know what you think.
Ryan Grieves: Thanks for listening and we'll be back soon.