October Memo: Eyes on the Prize for Q4

October Memo: Eyes on the Prize for Q4

Maxwell Ryan
Oct 1, 2017
This is how we looked in January 2017... Cute, promising, but not fully grown up.

On Monday morning I walked you all swiftly through a number of large and small changes, in addition to outlining our OKRs for these next three months. As I said then, our work for this quarter is singular, not only because it's always very super focused in Q4, but also because we're now at a stage, after nearly two full years of team building, where I'm looking for all of us to come together in our work in a way we've never seen before. This is the type of thing that we'll need, as well, to climb the very high challenge in front of us.

1. We're on a Roll This Year

Finishing off the last quarter I took a look at all of our departmental OKRs and the grades you gave yourselves at the finish. I think you were all very fair graders, and tough on yourselves in certain cases, which is also helpful as we had to find the learning in this.

Here is a visual of how we did:

The green here is as important as the red, and in all cases I was impressed by the learning that came out of all our people focusing on 36 important key results each week. This is a sea change from the way we worked last year.

And here's what that all averages out to:

If we are truly aspirational in our objectives, this is a great score as a perfect 10 should rarely be achieved.

2. Six Wins

While there were many wins over the past quarter and the two before it, I want to briefly shout out six that are the most important and signal real shifts in how we have worked this year.

Sales has blown it away this year so far. They are on an absolute roll with two quarters exceeding goal and setting record sales months. Year to date Direct Sales has made $11m, which is $2m higher than they made in all of 2016.

Our Product Team's experiments have cracked delivery to our readers. As the pace of optimizing has picked up and real time experiments have flowed we've seen REAL changes in performance on our sites. It is especially notable that session duration has risen 61% on Kitchn and 27% on AT. This is a beginning and, as you will see, they will be even more aggressive in Q4.

Social, with super strong showings by News & Culture, has taken off, propelling NEW pageviews upward after a year of stagnation. AD working closer with AT and K, or " The ADKAT Team," has punched up pageviews and been a huge hit with our readers. AT's news and culture content has exceeded goal by 132% this past month and Kitchn has exceeded goal by 112%, bringing a greater breadth of stories from cooking to travel. Additionally, EMAIL has been a huge win this whole year, arriving in the past few months with the highest click through rates we've ever seen in over a decade.

We've been winning awards for the first time in a big way. Seven awards and mentions in nine months make this the most winningest year we've ever had. Kudos to the Creative Services team. This is so pivotal as it means that our peers and clients are seeing more of us than they ever have before.

Apartment Therapy Studios finally opened! A dream for many years, we are now, almost unbelievably, in possession of a brand new studio wing with four studios, office and breakout rooms. The goal? AT Studios will be known in our industry as The Studio to work with, with all production under one roof. You can smell the cooking down the hall.

Infrastructure has grown and we're ON IT. With all the new hires and new spaces, Operations has been at a constant running pace keeping up with it all. Wonderfully, they've not only delivered, they've been able to inject the culture of learning and training into the company. We now have surveys, training and learning as a way of life, seeping deeper into our work flows so that we're all more aligned, connected and supported in our work.

3. Now This is Where We Need to Get To

See that mountain up there? That's the North Face of the Eiger. It's a hard climb, but it can be done. Our Objective for this quarter FEELS and SOUNDS like this: