This release adds a small indicator to activity feeds if the activity came as part of a group. You’ll see these as tappable phrases like “via Zen Habits.”
This is a new feature that we’re trialing with a small number of people. We’ll be gradually expanding the groups feature according to Lift’s philosophy of incremental improvement. Hopefully, in the near future we’ll be able to tell you that groups is a fully baked feature. Until then, read on for some background.
On one, the day that I started coding the first version of Lift, I had an epiphany where everything I cared about came together around the idea of boosting human potential through networked support systems. I dropped every other responsibility and coded for nearly four days straight. That was an unparalleled bout of manic enthusiasm.
But I’ve seen enough social software to know that the community (and sub-communities) is where the magic happens. So, our job designing the product experience is often more about facilitating community then it is about writing code. Which brings us to groups.
As a concrete example, last Fall, we ran a challenge with Tim Ferriss for his book The 4-Hour Body. He wanted to support the advice from his book, while also measuring its effectiveness. The challenge was a huge success: 86% of participants lost an average of 8.6lbs each (over four weeks).
The first is that Tim provided all of the participants with a mission and sense of purpose. The second was that everyone was getting better advice, both from Tim directly and also from other participants who’d read the same material and were overcoming the same obstacles.
Since then we’ve run a few other trials along the lines of the 4-Hour Body experiment. First, we tried our own experiment around productivity. Then we ran a challenge along with the book launch of our friend Darya Rose’s book, Foodist.
But as we experiment with groups we’re finding dozens of other use cases including: eight friends getting in shape for a college reunion, a church pledging acts of good in their community, a cross country team tracking each other during offseason training, personal trainers keeping tabs on their clients, and health organizations bringing healthy habits to their communities.
You may be wondering, with all of the choices we have on what parts of Lift to work on, why are we doing groups now. Here’s why: we’ve been able to quantify the success rates of groups. A person is roughly twice as successful when working with the support of a group as compared to the standard Lift user.
That brings me back to the Tuesday two weeks ago, which was my second happiest day at Lift. I took half the Lift team to lunch at Samovar (a popular tea & lunch spot near our office) in order to meet with Leo Babauta from ZenHabits.
Normally, this situation would be a mixed blessing. We’d feel like we were on the right track, but also feel like we were going to have trouble executing (in this case, because we didn’t have a person to research and answer all of the questions from all of the groups we want to help launch).
The fact that I had a day where I felt extreme optimism about a feature, that feature was greated with extreme enthusiasm by a top user (Leo launched his group, Sea Change, a week after that meeting), and my first choice of person to help run this feature could start immediately—we’ve had a lot of good fortune, but never that good.
I’ve heard that when you start a company, the lows are lower and the highs are higher. Thankfully, I’m wired to mostly forget the lows. That allows me to treasure moments like that Tuesday, when the stars aligned.