Every step

Justin Rosenstein

At Asana, we believe passionately that the best way we can contribute to the world is by building software that helps others contribute to the world. Join us.

When I walk through a beautiful building, the first thing I experience is the emotional effect of the finished product: a sense of grandeur, or a feeling warmth. But my appreciation grows deeper when I consider how the building was made, to look at every brick or every bolt placed one by one by a person, and then to imagine the architects and designers, who must have thought and debated and iterated on each piece, from the largest design decisions to the smallest details. It’s humbling to stand there, physically held by the fruit of their collective labor.

Lao-Tzu observed that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But the journey is the million steps that follow, and the experience that emerges along the way. That’s how great things are built as well: from skyscrapers to software, from cinema to cities, greatness happens one step at a time. These steps are the “tasks”, the atomic units of work, the building blocks of all effort.

Breaking down ambitious goals into small pieces, assigning ownership of those tasks, and tracking them to completion is how creation happens. The tasks may be complex, interdependent, and involve passionate conversation among many contributors. Their coordination is crucial to the success of a project’s vision.

Everyone knows this and yet, astoundingly, most teams don’t yet have a unified, trusted record of what they have to do. There are project management apps galore, and “enterprise-grade collaboration platforms” are big business, but none of them are good enough at addressing teams’ real-life needs; almost no one’s using them to drive hour-to-hour work (even when they’re paying for them).

Some companies have felt the need for a centralized internal task list so acutely that they’ve built them in-house: Apple has their legendary Radar system, Facebook their collaborative “Tasks” tracker that Dustin and I had the privilege of helping to design and prototype. But in general, good tools for staying in sync just haven’t been built and made available to the world. Teams are getting by on a hodge-podge of email, spreadsheets, physical notebooks, and untracked verbal commitments. And the important conversations and files about those tasks are spread out, disconnected, and out of context.

We see this as the fundamental challenge to the rising productivity of teams. Working together in concert more smoothly not only helps us move more quickly; it changes the nature of what we can undertake. When we have the confidence that we can orchestrate the group effort required to realize them, we dare bigger dreams.

  1. avatarJessie Brumbach

    Love this Justin,

    it’s a burning issue, I wanted more. How do you orchestrate teams in a fast moving environment beyond project management? Is it yet another process or a feeling of connectdeness created by intangibles?

  2. avatarVenkatrao Gali

    Congratulations to all who made this product. Asana is Amazing and Incredible. We really learnt from you guys on how to make a great user friendly product.

    Keep going!!!. Really love to get more from you!

  3. avatarDaniel M. Schulman

    Ach. Human beings.

    Just heard a five minute piece by Bloomberg Weekend News Radio, and four minutes of it was about “hey, these blokes are really into their yoga, how quaint”. And that was in the context of a generally favorable treatment.

    But it made me curious and I went online to do a couple quickscan reviews.

    I see that you’re going to get as much serious attention to your core productivity enhancement concepts, in the press, as Dolly Parton gets for her philosophical musings. Even though her musings are top notch; as it seems (from feedback) is your software. Never underestimate how lowbrow and two dimensional the popular press can be. My scan turned up far too much of this sort of thing..

    “…EVEN YET ANOTHER GOOFY START-UP NAME DID NOT PREVENT ASANA–THE PRODUCTIVITY SOFTWARE START-UP…”

    At one time a very new Google was teasingly nicknamed “Goo-Goo”. At one time an investment analyst said “nobody can take seriously a company named Yahoo of all things, how juvenile…”

    JU Jitsu! Give the other the space. They want it badly, let them have it. Meanwhile, one is pivoting, one is ready to take the other’s own momentum where it needs to go.

    Just say, “Yes. We have great respect for Yoga. And already some writers talking about our company have wrongly defined the term ASANA. It simply means position, or ‘posture’. And from the proper position, productivity is optimized; from a weak stance, comes weak results. Centered, balanced, on point, productive.”

    –Or somesuch. And thereafter what others are perceiving as a gimmick has instantly turned into a teaching/marketing analogy.

    The Dolly Partons and Jayne Mansfields of the world learn to take yuk-yuks about their jugs/boobs and pivot them into a platform for their views; yoga masters must do the same.

    “…Even yet another goofy start-up name did not prevent Asana–the productivity software start-up…”

    Lao Tsu also said, as you take your journey of 1000 miles don’t lose your GPS tracking sensibilities, avoid ‘cult-mind’, always strive to see yourself as others see you even if that mostly isn’t accurate, and maintain an eternal perspective.

    Good luck!

  4. avatarEdwin Spiessens

    I came across Asana the day before yesterday and i immediately got the feeling that this was the one! I have tried, tested and left dozens of project/task managers for teams.
    We have “implemented” Asana in a few hours time (implementing is an overstatement for the steps you need to take to get your team hooked line and sinker.
    On top of this, being a small company, we are running on the free plan! Hell, i haven’t even found the upgrade button yet!
    Kudos to the whole Asana team , you’ve done what in time I thought to be impossible!
    Edwin Spiessens

  5. avatarTeri Inch

    is there a way to day task B is due after task A is done? Of course i would like to say task B will will be due a week after task A. but I realize I am asking a lot.

    This product does seem like a great start toward a project managment tools with the necessary built in communicaiton tools. Great.

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