In my initial post describing WeAchieve, I wrote a bit about what we’re building, and as part of that outlined three reasons why we’re going after personal productivity market. The gist of it is this: we see the start of a trend pushing back against distraction technologies and moving toward real-world experiences and outcomes. As we do that, the technologies that exist to help people with have been under-invested in, and are under-developed as a result.
The Psychological State
A couple weeks ago, we covered a bit about why productivity is broken, and how the ad-driven economy has created an unsustainable spiral of click-bait and sensationalism in the news, addiction-creating algorithms on social media, and games specifically-engineered to keep you playing.
Entertainment is good in the right quantity, but we are starting to see deep dissatisfaction spread at both personal and societal levels. On a personal level, depression and suicide rates are increasing. Societally, we’re seeing more and more unrest and anger as youth unemployment rises across the globe and more and more people don’t feel that the jobs that they do have provide them with meaning.
While many causes contributed to these, our contention for a major one is this: a world increasingly driven by addicting entertainment ultimately robs people of the time needed to build real-world lives, real-world relationships, and real-world accomplishments. We believe this dynamic is responsible for a lot of the deep-seated unhappiness and frustration that we’re seeing in the world.
Solving this challenge — or more realistically to make a dent in it — is the mission of WeAchieve, and our product is designed to do this person by person or small group by small group.
We do this by providing a framework, curated content, and a tracking system for our users that helps them decide what matters to them, set goals, and hold themselves accountable.
Of course, this concept isn’t exactly new: setting goals, writing them down, and tracking your progress has been a known tactic and experimentally-proven to be effective. And naturally, many software platforms have been created to try to help this process happen. And yet, nothing has really caught hold. In doing our market research, we’ve uncovered several problems with the status quo that cause them to be ineffective, which has guided the vision for what WeAchieve is and what it will become.
The Three Opportunities: Flexibility, Universality, and Actionability
The existing market for goal planning tools — and many other related products — fall short on three key dimensions. Today we’ll cover what they are, and next week we’ll cover what WeAchieve is doing to address these challenges.
Flexibility— existing software to help you set goals are focused on specific types of goals for specific types of things. Many of them focus on forming habits, and revolve around creating “daily streaks.” This works well in some cases and for some people, sure. But it fails if you want to track how much of something you do and things that don’t need to follow a set period — e.g. daily, weekly, or monthly. For the modern human, this most things that you do.
Universality — Perhaps more importantly, personal productivity platforms are all quite siloed. Do you need a note-taking app? Use EverNote. Do you need a to do list? Use ToDoist. Do you need a Habit Tracker? Coach.me. Do you want to set fitness goals? Use a fitness app. Do you want to do a friendly competition? Use a different fitness app. As each company has tried to do one thing really well, they’ve missed the mark on a holistic view of consumers’ real need. People don’t just need a to do list, they need a system to organize their life. A to do list is necessary but not sufficient in order to reach this, and the same can be said for each of the other categories mentioned.
Actionability — The last dimension in which the current market struggles is how to convert data into motivation for the consumer. In part because existing tools are relatively inflexible, the visualizations and ways in which they motivate people are also very simplistic and largely ineffective as a result. For example, apps that try to help you to walk more commonly rely upon giving you a 10,000 step-per-day goal. As with streaks, this is maybe motivating in some cases. But there are many other ways to translate even a simple metric like step count into motivators for the user, and these opportunities scale exponentially when looking at activities with many metrics such as running. But even with running, most apps rely on a basic: run more than X miles per timeframe Y. Without breaking into next week’s subject, let’s just say that there’s so much more that can be done there.