ThinkingTime is a Slack App that gives your team time to think. You use the App to post a question to your channel and then collect all responses to be released at the same time.
One of the best things about today’s communications tools like email, Slack, and messaging are they are incredibly fast and efficient. One of the worst things about today’s communication tools like email, Slack, and messaging are they are incredibly noisy, interruptive, and responding fast is often rewarded over responding thoughtfully.
Everyone has been in countless groups, threads, and channels where someone asks a thoughtful question and wants feedback. Very quickly someone replies with a snarky comment and the whole thread devolves and the asker never got any thoughtful feedback. These are the bad versions of “first responders”. (On that note, we love and deeply appreciate and thank our community first responders for all they do, especially in these complicated times!). On the other hand, even worse is when everyone waits until the most senior person in the group weighs in and then agrees with them without anyone sharing their independent thoughts.
With ThinkingTime, everyone on your team gets time to think first, then respond, and then read each other’s responses before the true conversation begins. This encourages conversation and contribution… and thinking.
How ThinkingTime works
With ThinkingTime, it’s easier than ever to collect feedback on an important question from your team while giving them time to think and make all the responses equal.
The process is simple:
- Type in your message or request and choose the amount of thinking time before responses are released.
- Everyone on the channel will see your message with a “Respond When Ready” button
- They click that button and write and submit their response.
- The messages are all saved and then released at the specified time on a new thread. The messages are released in random order so there is no advantage to being first.
- When the ThinkingTime is complete, your team can commence conversation in realtime as usual.
Here are a few use cases we’ve already heard for when this can be useful:
- Initial design feedback to a new mockup, proposal, logo, or really any creative (we’ve all been there when the first response is “hate it” and you go on immediate defense)
- Gathering questions ahead of a meeting or an all-hands
- Starting a weekly retrospective over Slack and getting people to give meaningful input
- Discussing a candidate after a full day of interviewing where you don’t want to bias each other’s feedback
- Initiating a brainstorm around a tricky problem
- Requesting input or suggestions for a team bonding event
- … and so many more! Look back in your recent slacks and email threads and see how many times conversations got derailed by the first responder!
This was a fun little project for us. We have always meant to jam on things together so I’m glad Cyrus was inspired by my first post and wanted to try some things. He also always wanted to build a Slack app so this gave him an excuse to go learn their APIs. We grabbed a few late hours after the families were in bed and mostly I watched Cyrus code and debug.
We decided to keep it pretty simple and something we could actually put in people’s hands. Mostly we just want to demonstrate the idea of giving people time to think. What you can install now is a fully functional Slack app you can install into your workspace. We see it more as a proof of concept than a full product but we hope it provokes your thinking!
If everyone starts taking a little more time to think before responding, and listening to each other’s responses too, we hope it will create healthier discussion and discourse. Often the people with the best ideas aren’t the ones with the loudest or fastest voices. We want them to be heard with equal weight. Shifting that balance is what gets us most excited.
If you like this, you may want to consider bringing more thoughtful practices to your meetings too. One that I like is Silent Meetings which focus significant discussion over a document instead of a free for all.
Mostly, we hope in just reading this and thinking about ThinkingTime, you’ll be more thoughtful in all of your conversations.
P.S. If you have feedback or want to get in touch with us, ping us at firstname.lastname@example.org