The difference between crafters and managers

The difference is in what you spend time on.

"Most people get satisfaction from building — from actually creating things."

As companies scale, optics start playing a larger role. People start spending more time on internal docs than actually talking to customers. How do you prevent this from happening at Shopify?

In most product reviews, product managers spend way too much time preparing the perfect presentation for execs.

At Shopify, our approach to product reviews is different. We want to see how the product actually works by playing with the demo or diving into the code.

We want our PMs to be extremely user-focused, to take full ownership over problems, and to have a high tolerance for risk.

If these attributes aren't present, product managers tend to become "keepers of strategy.” You end up with smart, highly credentialed individuals spending all their time writing strategy memos to increase their team size so that they can write even more strategy memos.

How Shopify rages against meetings

In early 2023, Shopify initiated operation “Chaos Monkey” to:

  1. Cancel all meetings with 3+ people
  2. Reinstate “no meeting Wednesdays”
  3. Remove needless Slack channels

Does Shopify have a strong writing culture to help people communicate without meetings?

Yes, we try to make async decisions as much as we can. We do this in a few ways:

  1. One of our mantras is “Do things, tell people.” You’ll see this plastered on our walls if you come to Shopify’s office.

  2. We built an operating system called GSD (get shit done). This internal tool emphasizes frequent written updates, which are much easier to digest than constant meetings.

A meeting is a bug that some other process didn’t work out.

We focus on the mission. We want to be the all-in-one commerce platform for people to start and grow businesses. We try to avoid getting distracted by other side quests.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

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