We built a dedicated tool for peer-to-peer instant support within our team, because Slack wasn’t cutting it. We think it makes our dev team more productive and helps support our new hires with on-demand training — maybe it could work for you?
We’re looking for a handful of enterprising engineering-managers/CTOs who’d be willing to experiment with us on a new workflow with their team (and guide the further development of our product).
As a software dev, one of the things I hate most is getting stuck. Typically, it feels like I'm in the groove being productive… but then, I’d hit a wall: wasting hours debugging something that turned out to be trivial, or scratching my head about some missing incantation to get a service working that I know someone else on my team has already figured out. I love most things about remote work, but I do miss the ability to tap someone on the shoulder to get me unstuck.
As an engineering manager, I would worry: “How much of my team’s time is wasted being stuck?”, “Are my devs able to focus to get work done?” It’s an interesting trade off: long uninterrupted periods are critical for deep work, but promptly helping others who are stuck is very high-leverage — the trick is finding the right balance.
Slack was our team’s go-to for these situations: post a help message in one or two channels (and interrupt those with notifications on) and then schedule a meeting; or 1:1 a friend, hoping they see the message, aren’t in a meeting, and actually know how to help with the issue (and also destroy their mental-house-of-cards in the process). It kinda worked, but in the contest of “help unblock this one person asap” vs “respect each others’ focus”, we felt that Slack was the worst-of-both-worlds. The more we used Slack, the less useful it became — a mixed bag of urgent, semi-urgent, and non-urgent messages across an ever-growing list of channels — harder and harder to divine the signal from the noise.
With several new hires about to join our team, I was reviewing our onboarding and training practices, and recalled the pain of the first few months at my previous jobs: constantly blocked, having to hunt down some proprietary information. (Even if you’re good at “drawing the owl”, it’s impossible to move forward when nobody has told you where the only company-approved pencils are hidden). I saw an opportunity to support our new hires, provide ongoing on-demand training, and deal with “urgent-help-needed” issues for the rest of our team — and so “Unstuck” was born.
Unstuck is a dedicated tool for “peer-to-peer support” within your team. It’s a desktop app that sits in your toolbar. When someone needs help, they make a help-request, it gets intelligently dispatched to just the right peers (more on that below), one of them responds, and they pair 1:1 remotely to resolve the issue. That’s it. As apps go, it’s not that complex, but by having a dedicated app for “urgent help needed”, there’s lots of room to optimize that workflow — i.e. “do one thing well.”
We love it, and we hope you will as well.