Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cogent Values and Goals

Cogent recently had an off-site meeting that we used for a wide-ranging discussion, including a session on what we considered our values and goals as an organisation. We had a fairly spirited exchange on both these topics, constrained by finding at most five points in each area that captured our business. There were many things on the margins that people thought were important, so it was difficult to hone the lists to a concise consensus. In the end we had this:

Cogent Values

  • Openness

  • Integrity

  • Respect

  • Craftsmanship

  • Collaboration

Cogent Goals

  • Make more money than we can from consulting

  • Build some kick-ass software

  • Work with good people

  • Have flexibility in lifestyle and the amount of time I want to work

I was going to add some commentary, but on reflection I think these speak for themselves (but I'm interested in your comments).

For your interest, here are the next group of goals - things that influence us, but that aren't core and didn't make it into the definitive list:

  • Prove that you can run a company humanely for both customers and employees

  • Learn new things, learn proven things from experienced folk

  • Grow as practitioners

  • Change the way people develop software

  • Inspire one another and others

  • To have some fun

So while we would like to change the world and have some fun, we're realistic enough to understand that for us, for the people we are and the stage of life that most of us are in, there are some selfish things (money and flexibility) that are actually more important. That doesn't really make me feel great about myself, but I think it's the right decision and I think it's good that we've been clear and articulated this.

I'd be interested to know the outcomes from any other small firms that do some exercise like this.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Cogent is very proud to announce the release of our very first product - Runway!

Runway is an action management system. It's inspired by Getting Things Done (GTD), and will eventually grow into a more complete GTD system. Why do you need an action management system? Because your brain is a terrible secretary?Right now you're wasting precious mental energy worrying about things you need to remember to do, which ones are important, which ones are urgent, what needs to be done next, and so on. Runway provides a trusted repository for all the things that you need to do - and trust me, there are hundreds of them.

Runway is designed to be quick and simple to use, and to become intuitive over time. An action is created through a simple, single-line entry field. No check boxes, no drop-down lists, no tabbing between fields. You can also create an action by sending an email to Runway, or by sending a Twitter message. We want to extend Runway to other sources, so that you have ubiquitous capture for your important ideas.

Do Today - Runway.jpg

Actions appear in your to-do list right away, and can be prioritised easily with drag-and-drop. You can rapidly filter your actions by when they need to be done, the context you need to be able perform the action, the time required, the energy you need, and any other tags you want to use.

Actions - Runway.jpg

Most people will use Runway to track all their actions, select the actions for the day at the beginning of the day, and then work through that list. I've been using Runway that way for over six months.

I'm really excited by Runway, because it makes my life simpler and helps me get things done. It's also a great piece of software, but I hope that people forget about that, that Runway merges into the background and just becomes an invisible helper. Please visit http://www.runwayapp.com and give it a go. Perhaps you'll have the same experience as Jonathan, one of our beta testers, who says, "Runway has changed my life!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cogent Customer Brief

We're not heavily into formal contracts at Cogent, since we think they fail to capture the essence of the relationship. We understand that everyone needs to know how much they're paying and for how long, and we've also had some unfortunate experiences where we didn't do a good job of communicating expectations to the customer, so we've put together a document that describes, in the plainest language we could muster, what to expect then you collaborate on a project with us. You can find it on this page of our website.