🎤How does this Product Design Manager use Notion to sustain team culture?

Anupriy Kanti, product design manager at Infra.Market, is a self-proclaimed “tool agnostic''. So, what is it about Notion that makes him prefer this tool over all others? 

product design manager at infra.market uses notion to sustain team culture podcast with anupriy kanti

Poocho’s in-house podcast, Down and Dirty, is back and this time, we are pleased to feature Anupriy Kanti. Anupriy is the current Product Design Manager at Infra.Market and has over 14 years of experience in Design wherein he has worked with brands like IKEA, Make in India and Discovery

Anupriy is a self-proclaimed “tool agnostic'' guy who prefers to start with a general idea of what he wants to accomplish and then find the best tool for the task. So, what is it about Notion that makes him prefer this tool over all others? 

Highlights of the the episode include:

  • Designing with Notion: Anupriy follows every Notion update and is constantly thinking about how he can apply the new features to optimize his workflow. As a manager, he believes in introducing structured frameworks to sustain work culture and achieve success. His secret weapon? Playbooks - what he calls "living, breathing artifacts."
  • Creating and Nurturing Playbooks: Anupriy's approach to creating playbooks is structured and interactive, making it accessible to a diverse audience. He believes that playbooks are not static documents. Instead, they should evolve and adapt to the changing needs of the team. He described the process as similar to gardening, requiring continuous care and maintenance by an editorial team to ensure its relevance and effectiveness.
  • Notion versus Google: Anupriy compares the features of Notion and Google’s suite of tools like Google Docs and Google sheets.  He elaborates on the features, challenges, and advantages inherent to each platform. 

Tune in to the full episode to find out how Anupriy leverages Notion as a dynamic platform for presenting structured and interactive information that optimizes team orientation and management.

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Read the transcript

Taapsi 0:00

Hello and welcome everybody to another episode of Down and Dirty. And today we're gonna get Down and Dirty with Anupriy Kanti. He has an illustrious career as a designer and I've decided that rather than me introduce him, he is going to introduce himself and then we will dive right into his day to day life and the tools that he uses.

 Anupriy 0:21

OK. Sure. Thank you Taapsi for calling me here. You know, lovely to meet you here. So I have like around 14 years of design experience with 12 years in UX and like, you know, been managing teams and you know, working on different products and all and alongside I have my passion on mythology, history and space exploration. So I try to create content around that or I just started doing that.

Taapsi 0:47

Three different platforms that you're managing along with your career as a designer. I don't want you to shy away from some of the really big brand names that you've worked with. Like, can you name some of the brands that you've worked with?

Anupriy 0:59

Sure Taapsi. I mean, I have the privilege of working with the, you know, brands like IKEA, Make in India then Discovery. Right now I, I was working with Zita, so I was working on the new product that they're going to be launching for HDFC. And right now I'm working with Inframarket itself on their products and all.

Taapsi 1:20

Got it, got it. So for someone who might want to understand more what, you know, someone at your leadership level in design does on a day to day basis. Can you just walk me through what's a day in your life like? Like if you wake up just a normal ordinary day, you know, as, as the guy leading designer Infracapital, let's say, or Inframarket, how, how does that work?

Anupriy 1:45

So, so, first of all, you know, I think now that I'm at a, you know, at a manager level, obviously, my day to day is never the same, you know, I mean, I would love to say that, you know, I just get up and I do the thing because a lot of the work is strategic in nature, but it's also about, you know, guiding, mentoring the teams, you know, managing the projects and all so automatically, you know, apart from, you know, if it's you know, maybe it could be a firefighting moment where you just need to solve a problem quickly, two, it could be like, OK, what more can we do right? Now, in Inframarket I've just recently joined. But like, if I, if I had to talk about a typical day, you know, the first thing I have to do is I have to, you know, sync up with my team. You know, the immediate reportees or the designers are the thing. So, in different companies, obviously, the structures was different in terms of the project. So sometimes your reportees, were the people who are working on one project. But like sometimes it's like, you know, you're helping with the full studio or, you know, the department itself as a leading manager and obviously you're in touch with your own, you know, manager, maybe the design director or the, you know, currently, like it's the you know, the AVP of design itself. And yeah, you are trying to make sure that, you know, if there is some work that was pending, that's going on, you know, it's going in, you know, it's going fine if there is no issue itself or it could be the, sometimes it's like if you've been doing this work, what more can we do? Could, could we take today to explore it? So I can be that person sometimes where in my team where it's like, you know, I know what we are doing, but what about this right? And sometimes I'm the other way around. Like, ok. No, no, no, I think let's focus and let's finish this task. Ok.

Taapsi 3:19

So, so when do you normally wake up in the morning?

 Anupriy 3:28

Ok. So that's a little bit of a controversial this thing. Like I would like to say what I have been doing the last one week has been getting up at like, around 6:30, 7:00 and going to the gym, but that's not really my routine all the time. It's just something I have tried to do that. You know, especially with my wife who's actually someone who gets up early. But like, yeah, if, I, I'm, I'm, I'm a nocturnal person. I'm not someone who wakes up in the morning and I'm definitely not someone who likes to even do something until I have my coffee and all coffee or tea. So, I try to get up, you know, whatever time in the morning, like anything between seven to, like, you know, eight, nine o'clock. And, currently the, you know, in InfraMarket, you know, you're supposed to go to the office and all. There was a time when things were remote. When I was in Zita, I had to do remote working also. So, obviously the time you get up and you get ready was slightly different, but whatever happens by around 9:30, 10:00, you're ready and then you're in the office mode.

Taapsi 4:22

So you said you're a nocturnal being. Is this when you stay up at night, is that just personal time or are you actually working at night?

Anupriy 4:34

So it is personal. But I would say like my, especially on my platforms that I have where I'm doing you know, doing all the passion projects and all. that is my time. I mean, it borderlines into like, you know, prevent sleep procrastination is like, OK, the full day, I was working on the professional work and also let me do my reading, let me do my writing and all sometimes to the point of even like, you know, binge watching TV shows for research purposes and all. Anything that happen, it's at night. Obviously, it's not sustainable, but first instinct is to stay up late night and do those things. It just doesn't have the same zing when you do try to do it in early morning. You know, you feel like you need to be productive in the morning.

Taapsi 5:15

OK. OK. So you have your own passion projects that you are dealing with at night. It makes me wonder then in the day when you need to be in work mode and you've kind of compartmentalized, OK, This is where I've got to do right now Infra’s work or Zita or where you were before that. Are you someone who cares how much, rather do you care about things like efficiency and productivity and you know, optimizing work flows? Like how, how important is it for you to be on top of things versus letting the day reveal itself to you?

Anupriy 5:54

Oh I think I am a big productivity junkie. I mean, to be honest, I not only consume enough content on like, you know, how to, you know, maximize your productivity and all obviously in a healthy, sustainable way, not, not to, not at the cost of you know, your, you know, your happiness or your, you know what you're passionate about. But I believe a lot in workflows and to be honest, even in, in terms of compartmentalizing the thing is that, you know, I'm, I'm always you know, keen on knowing what can influence what because sometimes your, you know, your creative feed, like, you know, at work may not always come from just design work, it can come from, you know, your passion and your reading of something completely else. In fact, as, as a UX designer, you're trying to empathize and understand how you can improve the systems and experience for the users, right? So I do have to consume a lot and I think what I end up doing many times in terms of workflow is that I'm trying to always come up with better frameworks, processes for my team and for myself, I mean, obviously I will never, you know, implement or I would never do something that I don't follow myself. So even if I'm thinking of a new way of like, work, I would try it out, you know, on certain tools and sometimes on my own, try to make some sort of a proof of concept of that and then take it to my team. And right now, obviously, a lot of the time goes into like, you know, OK, I've made a framework or I've conceptualized a workflow, but is it going to get adopted by the team? Right, I mean, it's very great to have something but then just sit on the shelf. So sometimes it becomes like, OK, don't make the entire work flow, don't detail it out to the point that you know, like it's overwhelming for your team and your colleagues to follow it up, but get the ball rolling, germinate that seed of thought that here’s the process and get them to collaborate with you and trying to test the system out to, to see if this workflow works. What I say, like, you know, apply the UX principles on your workflow itself, not just on your projects, right.

Taapsi 7:50

Got it, got it. So let's kind of double down on that. I see from someone who's implementing workflows in order to be more productive, I can see the reward there, right? That you seek, right, it's like just a more optimum experience of getting shit done, like on time, you know, in a way that is efficient, there are no ball drops anywhere. It's like a nice closed tight ecosystem, right to manage things end to end. Also, it's a great way to scale things, right? Because then you have a process in place. You don't need to keepexplaining things to people. So I see the reward there. But what are some of the challenges with, you know, obsessing if I might say that, about work flows and productivity? Are there, what have you experienced in your career?

Anupriy 8:39

No, that's a very interesting question, Taapsi. And I think in fact, it's very interesting that you mentioned that because I kind of feel in the last few years, especially the last two years, I've kind of noticed that I'm spending more time on the challenges. There was a, there's a very interesting adage which suddenly changed my perception towards the workflows and all, which is ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, right? And which means that as a person who, you know, who sees themselves as a strategic person who sees, you know, I can make all the frameworks and like, you know, nice processes and all. But then if you have to, you know, if you want to make a dent, you have to get it embedded in culture and if the culture is not conducive to the thing, they don't want to change it. Because think about productivity, you, you're making a workflow, you're trying to make things more transparent, you're trying to make things more accountable, you're trying to make things more faster. But if the people in the team are not up to that, you know, that for them that feels like the the change itself is going to you know, be too much and at this point and they're comfortable with the systems, right. So I think what has happened in the recent, this thing is that while working on frameworks and processes and flows, I have tried to switch gears into first looking at the culture and trying to see how you can influence culture and then create frameworks that will help sustain that culture. Especially as a manager, right? I mean, it's you know, that thing where it's like, OK, here's how we do it, right. That's a simple, you know, like an authoritative way of doing it that doesn't work, that doesn't work all the time and especially I would say, as a middle management. I mean, you, you could do that to maybe your team then it doesn't have, it's not really fulfilling. So how do you, you know, make changes or affect the culture for your, you know, for your senior managers and senior stakeholders while also giving space to your team to do that experiment, to do all of that, right? So your frameworks are no longer about how to do it, but creating the guard rails for them to experiment sometimes, right.

Taapsi 10:34

And how do you do it, is my question like what are you trying out in order to influence culture before you impose a framework on them?

Anupriy 10:43

So it depends on the, it depends on what level I'm working on. One of the things I have started moving towards. And I think even right now when I joined this new company, one was also about that, OK, one is trying to finish a project and how do you, you know, make the most efficient way of doing a project. But another is how do you create and sustain design practices and design culture, right. Like if you're creating a team, so for example, if you're building a content team or you're building a design team because right now in many companies, there are developers, fair number of developers, there are maybe a few, you know, designers and all, even though designers are always trying to fight for the seat at of the table. But there will be very few content or few or non content you know, people itself, right. So something that I did in the previous two companies was trying to bring the content, things. Right. So, it's a culture plus, a framework question, right. One of the things I do in that is that I, you know, I am a big sucker for having playbooks. And I, I'll probably show the playbook itself, but just to say a playbook for me is not, not just something like a, a guideline that is just sitting in a shelf which someone consumes as a manual. A playbook is a living breathing artifact where, you are basically giving your team some, some way, some tools and tips that they can use while in the, while like, you know, while working. Ok. An analogy I'll give it to you is, something like, a playbook would be something like, you know, if you see dungeons and dragons are like, you know, the D&D games and all right, what the, dungeon master makes in terms of the game and then people, go into it, they look for the person, the dungeon master, to look at their playbook and to ultimately like, you know, to follow it up so as to collaborate and to thrive together, right. Initially, they start off probably as like, you know, a coach and, a player mechanism where here's a playbook, here's how we're going to win the thing. But then you want to move away from that finite mindset as Simon Sinek says that you want to move away from that, you know, you're not fighting with another team, right. You're working with the team to, do the output. So that is where the playbook becomes an important thing. And now playbook can happen in different-and, if you want, I can share and can show you a thing itself.

Taapsi 12:56

Yeah, let's do it, let's do it. Yes.

 Anupriy 13:00

One second, let me just, yeah. So, obviously I have made playbooks for the, you know, the companies itself. So those playbooks are different names. I mean, the company names itself, this is a playbook, I'm you know, I'm kind of making a template version of it which will get re-enhanced and all. So the Meet is basically a master edition extended template that I'm, you know, exclusive template that I'm making. At some point in time, I do plan to have this also on the Notion galleries for other people to consume, you know, as a session and all. So, yeah, I, I'm a big Notion-eer. That's one thing

Taapsi 13:39

I was just gonna say, just to step back, this is all happening on Notion. So the assumption here is that when you are thinking about productivity and work flows or even playbooks before you get into work flows, this is where the magic is happening. This is a platform that you use to do all of that.

Anupriy 13:55

So I'm, I'm pretty tool agnostic and for a very right reason so because the number of products and number of tools that are coming are changing. Like in the, in the current company, they use Confluence you know, designers use Figma before that they used to use XD and all. So I do have to be a little careful about not getting too, you know, too wrapped up in one tool. I mean, it's like if you think of presentations and you do PPT and then suddenly, you know, you don't have Microsoft Office and you're using Google, it changes the notion, but you have to understand what a tool is good for and what is you know, what it isn't good for, right? So I would say that I definitely start with a tool agnostic way. But then I do assess that if I want to create a playbook or I want to create an artifact, what is the best tool? What will get adopted? I mean, I've had this problem where I would start working on a tool and just because no one else uses a tool, it is not getting adopted, right? So, so it is something. so honestly, I made playbooks on Spreadsheets also because Spreadsheets are the easiest thing to consume. But I would say that because I do love Notion, obviously a personal preference and my personal first, you know, first mode of attack of like, you know, attacking an idea to have it written down to articulate it and all. It's on Notion because my entire life is on Notion right now. So I would start there and at least my personal work I would have it here, professional work, I may type my stuff here, then I would transport it to whatever tool that is required. In terms of playbook, I definitely, I would say that one of the reasons I use the notion for my playbook and I do believe that was a good option was that, Ok, it, it could have been on a Word Doc, but the problem with the Word Doc is it becomes a document rather than it becomes like a, I would say a portal where you can go into a different thing. So, right, here itself, right, like I have a playbook and then you can have the quick links to different sections and all. And as you see, I like, you know, given a sync note so that you know, it's there on every page. So if I want to update something, it just gets updated on every page, you know, that's, that's something that I can do. What are the tables and itself, version control itself, you know. So again, as I said, this is a draft. You know, this is a template version. So I've just talked about it like, you know, if this is a half done, then how different walkthroughs can itself happen before you hand it over to someone itself, right? Obviously, because it's a playbook, this starting page will always have all the, I would say the documentation, what is the purpose of the playbook and other things itself. You know, anything that can help you know, someone consuming the playbook through this link itself to know what we want to do. And I also try to make sure that we want to make make it clear that this playbook can be consumed by different people in different ways, right? Like a design leader or a head will consume it in a very different way than a product manager. Someone who's contributing will have a very different idea like, OK, I want to add my case study here so that you know, someone can consume it itself. And you know, like how the playbook it should sort of evolve because it's very, it's very simple to make a playbook one time and just leave it and hope for the other thing. You need to nurture it. It's almost like gardening, right? So you need to have a set of gardeners, which I would say is an editorial team. So in like in one of the companies I was working in, when I was, you know, I was, you know, in my notice period, I was trying to work on the playbook to show that, you know, OK, this is something that all my learnings and all can, can come this way and we can have the, the team start using this as a way to, you know, to work forward, but not just that, but because there were new people joining the company, there were, you know, new team members and external team members working with you, there had to be a place where they could go to discuss and then obviously follow up with the person itself, right? So, so this is like a playbook of who, you know, who will be required in the book. So there needs to be someone who compiles the information, someone who crafts the playbook and someone who makes sure that we are not like, you know, having consistency issue itself. And at a high level, a playbook is basically it's broken into plays and packs. Now, what I mean by that is that plays are what are the, you know, how are you playing this game? Right? I mean, this is the book but, and your play can change based on your situation, based on your project and all. So, for this one, I had made the processes, initiatives and frameworks as three different things where processes are, what are the processes being followed? So what are the process for onboarding? Because I was involved in a lot of you know, project pitching, project proposals and all with the team, there was some sales, I think, how can we help the sales team do a better job and at the same time, the actual operations of a project itself, right? So those could come in and within an onboarding, you would have like, how would you orient a new person? Because let's face it when someone joins a team, they're pretty overwhelmed and they're pretty scared of like, you know, OK, what they have to do. So that itself is something that this playbook could help in, along with like, you know, what the sales are, you know, what are the things, how, how do you go about scoping a project? How would you go about proposing and all? And how would you go about handling the project itself and various initiatives like content and all.

Taapsi 18:59

So, you know, one of the things that immediately stands out to me and I imagine to anyone else who's gonna be watching this video after we put it out is the pleasure of seeing information organized like this, right? And this is where, you know, your, your designer ethos, completely comes through, right? Because it takes a particular kind of mind and training and experience to be able to present information in a way that is structured and yet interactive. Because otherwise, if it was just structure, like you said, you could just the whole thing into a single long form doc, create a PDF and say this is what you've got to use. But that is not how this is, I think even just in the pure interaction of things, the fact that you have so many toggles just makes it more interactive, just the act of toggling, right? Just gives you a sense of dynamism, right to the document. So I have a question. However, here for you, you know, as someone who loves Notion herself, I see the value in the tool. However, since Notion, I wanna attribute it to Notion and its success that Google Docs now has incorporated a lot more features and functionalities to make it even more interactive. Earlier, it was all about comments and live comments and that's what it was about. But now you have shortcuts, right? Like (@) mention and you can mention names, you can add dates, you can create dividers just through shortcuts, stuff that Notion was built on, Notion was built on like keyboard shortcuts to do things very quickly and do things. So have you used Google doc in like it's newer avatar. And if so, how does it compare in terms of the job to be done with Notion?

Anupriy 20:50

Sure, I think I, I definitely like Google Docs, I mean, Google Docs, Google slides, any of the Google Suites. And right now the Microsoft suites also, especially because in the current company Microsoft is preferred over Google. I definitely see an advantage and I think I would say there is a notion of like, you know, of other platforms happening. I think it's a good thing because personally, I, I always believe that the, the, as I said, the tool is not itself important. It depends on what you prefer. I mean, you know, the I consume a lot of content on this this tool versus this tool, what is better and to be honest, I feel that you know, sometimes too many features and I speak this as a UX designer also when you become into a feature factory and you try to do that, you're giving so much the creativity can become you know, stipend. Because creativity is actually best when there's constraint, right? Like think about notion like you know, the fact that they limit you number of sizes you can do and the number of colors you can do automatically means means you have to be creative about it in this entire playbook. I've tried to be very creative about the way I used colors itself. So any time I have depicted blue, that means there's something to deep dive into, you can go into a page itself. Anything that's yellow is like, you know, as an added Notion and anything that's green is the, this is the final page. So I think you can do a lot more because it forces human creativity when there is limitations. But having said that I do believe that, you know, Google Docs and all have you know, have something going for them because it's an entire stream. You know, what Google can do is try to get different, you know, different softwares, whether Google slide, you know, a spreadsheet and all combine itself. The idea of sharing is a lot easier and all itself. So there is an advantage there. But I think it's also, about inertia like, I mean, because I started off in Notion and my entire life is here. What I see, it is not a competition but an integration. So I'll do everything here. But if something is in Google thing, I'll just attach it as a link that can be seen there itself.

Taapsi 22:47

Understood. Out of curiosity, when did you discover this tool?

Anupriy 22:54

I mean, I knew about notion two, three years back but I follow a lot of these productivity gurus and they were like, you know, talking about how better than Apple Notes for not taking applications and all there is you know, there's Obsidian, there is you know, that there are other things, Bear and other ones. And I think Notion was something that the person showed and all. And I was so I was struggling from like this person who used to make notes quickly on my phone to coming to a platform and all. And I wanted the platform where, so the one big problem I always face is that, you know, if I can find references, I'll put it in a place. And I have this problem in Notion also where I put it in a place, but soon it becomes a graveyard of all the references because great you found something but when are you going to refer back to it? Right? I see Notion giving me the opportunity, though even in Notion I have this tendency of just putting a laundry list of things and then later on forgetting it. But then I can convert into a database, I can index the, you know, each of the artifacts that I found and later on I can sync it up. Now there are better tools that way, there are tools that can give you a more graphical representation. I do personally believe the Notion is probably going to go there too at some point of time, you know, it's a tool that is listening to its community. And I follow every single update of Notion like, you know, it's almost like the Apple you know, keynote speaks that happened. And my first instinct is to see how I can apply it, like even this framework I'm showing you now with the addition of you know, Notion buttons and all I am thinking of how I can do it. I have actually applied it in my personal work, in my personal work, I have it here where like, you know, I'm trying to think of sorry, just one second. OK. So like example, this is my personal projects to do list and all. And the fact that I'm showing it to you means now I have to do it at some point of time. Like what are the activities I have to do? And then I come back you know, I have to make a timeline. So one thing I have done is that the Notion buttons, right? I have actually created it. So any time I have to create a new project in a different content unit. So in mathematical, I have different content types, right, short content, long form content, instead of reinventing the wheel, I can just press a button and it will create the you know, it'll create that particular content type, itself here. Right. And then I can, like, you know, see and track it up according to my thing. Now, this is something that I've just applied it on my personal things. I will have to look and see how I can apply it on my, you know, on the other, this thing on my, you know, playbooks and all itself.

Taapsi 25:24

Right. Right. OK. So you are, I mean, you, you are an, an expert user of Notion, I'm gonna just even just seeing what you have shared so far. It's not just that you're using it to manage tasks and create a repository of documents or even databases that are linked because sure that's like base level where it's helpful, but you're definitely at another level only. I mean, that I'm pretty, pretty sure about now after seeing all this. So, so it seems however that the adoption of this tool, the trigger was you were following people who were aligned with how you look at the world and how you think about you know, you know, organization of information and that's where someone dropped the name and you tested it out and you saw that it could do things for you. And one of the first things that it solved the problem that it solved for you was the ability to a, your references would you say that that was, that was at the beginning?

Anupriy 26:23

Organise my informaiton altogether, I would say that you know, from going into a list mode to going into you know, interactive noodle mode was the main thing, a reference becomes one artifacts or one type of content.

Taapsi 26:34

Yeah, because you had Sheets for databases and you know, and you had, you know, just regular excel if you had to do that, but you're right, you can't, you can't change the view. And you can create links inside it and link databases, which is like another level of complexity. So where does this tool fall short or how does it fall short?

Anupriy 26:57

I think that, that's an interesting question because there are very, you know, a lot of areas where I feel it could do better. Like, so one of the things that I feel is that the tables while the database is not good, it doesn't have the capability of maybe like a spreadsheet. So, you know, recently, like me and my wife, we were trying to do financial tracking and all. And we realized that, you know, like you can't sync between like one cell to another cell, the same way you could do it on a Google sheet and all. So I keep toggling myself back and forth between you know, two of the you know, like two of those tools because in any sort of you know, Excel or a, you know, a spreadsheet, any sort of a spreadsheet, you can find, you can do mathematical calculation very, very easily. But in Notion, I don't think the table view, even the simple table view is powerful enough yet to do the thing. So sometimes my first instinct is that if I'm creating a table, should I even use Notion? Should I use a Google sheet and then just link back here? Because this is definitely a good place to organize your information. But sometimes it can be a problem for anything that requires like you know, anything that requires complexity in terms of like, you know, the special tabular data format or you know, data crunching or anything like that. Maybe the people who are very good with formulas. I mean, I know you called me an expert on Notion, but I still feel like I'm like, you know, level two of level five when there are people who are creating customized plugins and all I'm not there yet, but I do want to get there. Yeah.

Taapsi 28:25

Well, you're at least a three, I won't say two. I'd say you're at least a three. If this scale is up to five, then you are definitely inching your way up. Ok, fine. So, so that makes sense at the level of actual calculations and any kind of statistical analysis or engagement, you have more powerful tools other than that, is there any other space where you find the tool falling short?

Anupriy 28:52

The other thing I think it does fall short, I think you know, especially is on in terms of because like, you know, within the database also, I sometimes want to be able to cross link between two different database or sometimes I want to allow for you know, like color coding and other things also like, you know, within a two within the thing, maybe a database and other things that becomes a bit of a problem sometimes. But I would say the one big problem and this is more of a, I would say the UX problem. It's not a feature problem because features will improve. I, I don't believe that, you know, like I can go on talking about what they can improve. I can be very pedantic about like databases and all. But I do feel it's a little you know, sometimes weird about the tool is that I can share this as you know, maybe as a link to you, right? So Taapsi if I can share this link, but particularly with you, unlike Google, you know, where if I share the link somehow I've noticed that if I share this entire link, you will be able to access everything within like, you know, all the pages and all. Recently they came up with the whole permission thing and all, but for the longest time I had to find a very jugaad [Trans.: makeshift] method of, you know, hiding links and all. I found like a Notion formula that can hide it and all sort of a thing. So those things are, you know, they're not really, really you know, really helpful sometimes because you want to, and especially I want to create templates and I want to be able to do the, and third thing I would say, even in this terms of like, you know, when you see these sync blocks, right, sync blocks can be fascinating when you're copy pasting it on different places. But then sometimes if I want to have sync block and I want to have a sync data or I want to have a table or anything or if I want to have this, you know what I showed here itself, right? Like example, I had these three in three different boxes, right? If I had a sync box and shift it somewhere else, sometimes it could, you know, it will collapse into a list for you. And it's, it's really frustrating that, you know, sometimes you don't want a list, you want like, you know, the three boxes together. Exactly. So, again, there are hacks, I mean, I found very you know, smart hacks that, you know. Ok. Ok. You put this, you know, like you choose this sort of thing and then how you go about doing it and all. But I, I do feel like, you know, it's, it's like, again, like, you know, trying to go about it rather than like making it easier. And sometimes, you know, you, you want to have an idea, like you wanna type something quickly because Notion still allows for formatting, I feel like you know what happens is you get a little bogged down with OK, what layer is it, is it should be a header, one, header, two, header three. And I do feel like sometimes, you know, like when you want to just write, something like a notepad is even better than the thing because the notepad forces you to just focus on that text, you know the words.

Taapsi 31:35

And not the formatting. Right. Right. So let's come back to how this, how we even got to Notion, right? Was the idea you saying that hey, I want to create a culture, right, of valuing productivity and templates and a way to do your job better and then give them, give people the actual workflow that I may have set up in order to execute. So coming back to that point of creating a culture, how does Notion enable you to do that? Is it at that, so this playbook that you created, right, that's where we started saying, here's something that people can. But would you say, how is, let me ask you this, how has the adoption of that playbook been, is that, is that your cultural play? Is that what you're saying? Is that how you are imbibing a culture saying, hey, guys, here's something I've created, just look it over and let's talk about it or whatever.

Anupriy 32:28

It's been a bit of other things. So I think that that's always been a challenge. Like I would say like the something like this playbook, you know, before I show you another playbook, another artifact I made for another playbook that was there. So this was like, you know, when I'm orating someone and all. So you know, like a person will come, they want to know what are the processes you follow in design generally. You know, they want to study some case study, you know, like, OK, what are the case studies that they can study. So, so these are actual projects that I had done. So you can like, you know, go into like different this thing and see the recordings and all sort of a thing of it. Or you can even add new product, you know, new projects and all sort of a thing, right? But here's an example of adoption. So because you know, there has to be a lot of reading and all. So while there are references, you also want to know the people in the team, right? A new person wants to know it. So, I created this area where like, you know, OK, everyone has to give their top you know, readings, what, what you like and all so that you get know the person. But at the same time, you're also learning something and you may not be someone who likes books as much as like, you know, watching something so fine, you know, talk about what are the, you know, things that you watch and all and it kind of gives you a sense, you know, gives you a little bit of like a sneak peek at the person's personality also, right? So this becomes a thing. But, but to, to, to your point about like, you know, adoption, I mean, there have been times where like, you know, people will consume it passively. To get someone to do an active this thing, sometimes you have to create a framework. So there is a framework like for content playbooks, I've been creating many frameworks that would help a content this thing. So here's an example of a thing. So just to give you a context because I used to handle content design team and I come from a content design background, not just a UI execution and all. I try to talk a lot about like how can you, you know, doing content design is not not just fixing copies. It's also about understanding communication and all right. So let's take the example of error messages. Every product has error messages which come from the, you know, back end. And someone has to fix the error messages and error messages automatically are a edge case. They are basically a time where something is going wrong, right? So when you have to fix error copies, or you have to make the copies, the team was struggling of like, OK, how do we standardize it? So with the team, I came up with this whole thing of like, you know, let's make an anatomy of an error message. An error message has four parts, it has impact, it has cause, like what happened, what caused it, what is the action and what you can follow right now. Anytime an error message would come to us, would come from a product or a, you know, like a a dev team in sort of a code format. So this is how it would come like, you know, you would have this error code time out, please call later, right. This is what was said. Now, the content team has to create the content around it, right. The first instinct for any content person and any writer is to just write it and then say it doesn't sound good. Right. But there's a problem in that sort of an approach. The problem is that, you know, there's no way of knowing if we have, you know, just because something sounds good doesn't mean that it's doing the job. Right. So, what I would, you know, get the team to do is that, you know, as you see, there are four, you know, there are three aspects of it. Any content function, compile the information, craft a message, then check for it. Sometimes the person who's crafting should not be the person who's checking just to make sure that there is thing and then you can consolidate and pass it on sort of a thing. So this was a 3C content function that I had created, but even within the thing, right. So what I would say is try to break down the thing, for example, for the impact, write a sentence here, and mark it, like, you know, this is an impact. So we know that this is an error time out. You know, like so you can say unable to process request, you know, then what is the cost? There is some technical issue because right now there we don't have the information, right. And then you can write what is the action a person can take and then if there is a follow up, right. So similarly, like for any of these error cases, sometimes you would have a question also that, you know, OK, OK. I don't think we need a follow up this thing.

Taapsi 36:16

By organising the information in the way that you're showing me, this allows you to focus on one thing at a time. So in this kind of layout, you can say, OK, if it's for this kind of error code, this is where it falls in when it's this and that, that the power of a software to allow you to do this because you're obviously filtering the database to show you different views, right? So in order to do this, you need something like this platform to do that. So wait, I have a, I have a more fundamental question, ok, Anupriy. At this point, I've seen how you're using notion to achieve your goals, personal goals, but also in creating a culture, creating interactivity, getting teams to get to know each other. But this is a lot of information for someone who may not be exposed to notion, forget playbooks, like not to the tool also and the content also, right? So let's stop the screen share for a second and just walk me through when you have created these resources that you passionately believe, you know, have a, you know, a purpose of bringing people together and making things more transparent. How has the reception been on the other side?

Anupriy 37:32

Yeah. So I think I, I would definitely agree about being overwhelming and the thing is sometimes I do this sometimes as a social experiment also because I don't believe, you know, something being overwhelming, you know, is always a necessarily a bad thing. So I have this sort of you know, like I remember just recently having a conversation with my team where we were trying to map out an ecosystem. Again, I was creating a new framework on how to do it. But this was on a different platform like FigJam. And again, this question came but no, but this is getting very complicated, right? So I definitely said one thing that look, we are not here to you know, before we can eradicate you know, complexity, we need to expose complexity, right? The idea of, you know, right now when I showed you this thing about you know, like anatomy and all sometimes the reason I did this or why I believe we should do this is to show that look, copy is not just about writing a simple copy, it requires so many things. So like example, in compiling many times, you know, writing communication and writing a copy is also about finding the right information. You may have to challenge it. Sometimes it's about challenging an information that this information is not, right. This is not ethical to say this versus this, right? So I would say that the first thing I want to do with the tools, right? You know, and I want to have the reaction. So if I'm working with you, I would also be like if you tell me that's overwhelming, right? But obviously I'll work with you to make sure that, you know, how can we make it more consumable for you to work because it has to be worked on. But for me, that's also a data point that you know, OK. OK. This was overwhelming because it was a lot easier when we were doing it intuitively when we were just winging it, right? But it's a lot more complicated when we are trying to break down every information into data points. And now we're trying to question it and we have a tool where we are, you know, having a whole tracking mechanism for all data points. And then we are suggesting what needs to be shipped, what doesn't need to be done. I believe that that is required. So I would say I have had like, you know, different varying success in different things. I am always the first one to let go of a, you know, like a, like a framework or a process that is not working. I mean, there are many frameworks. In fact, I had so many times open, there would be frameworks which have not seen the light of day. And suddenly after two years I'm like, what if you use it this way? Right. Tool adoption is always a problem. I mean, I've had questions that, you know, but why can we not do this on, you know, can we make a website or not do it in motion? And I would always be the person to say, let's do it. Right. But why are you asking that? Is it because, you know, are you like, you know, is this because of, you know, you're, you're biased against a tool or is the information more important? Right? Sometimes I would even say that you know, like, Notion what the problem happens is that if I want to pass on someone and someone is not on board on Notion, you know, this actually happened with my wife where I was trying to work with her on one, you know, project part and she wasn't a keen notion, you know, a person, right? So, but I invited her, she's like, I have to download it and all. It's not worth it, right? Just share the viewable link for me and I'm like, no, but you need to edit it or you need to actually, you know, I don’t just want you to put a comment, I want you to edit the things, right? So there is that sort of a push back and all and I don't believe that's a notion thing. That's any tool, right?

Taapsi 40:29

Any tool thing, makes sense. I think the very, the most refreshing part of this call for me and kind of understanding what you're trying to achieve by using the support of a tool because that's what this is all about is the fact that as a designer, you're able to leverage a tool that allows you to be a designer as you're doing content. You know what I mean? Because there's, there are both things happening. It's a great place to do content, but it's a great place to visualize. And by visualize, I mean, organize, organize and that kind of visualization of data, right? Because there's, there's also there's an aesthetic, the organization of information and that is something that a tool like this allows you to do. And I guess in that sense, you know, scratch that itch of being a, being a designer and yet being a manager and a leader where you have to actually convey information, right? And also nudge people along workflow. So this was fantastic. I'm happy with like what I have learned from you and how you're using this tool. But is there anything else that you would like to share about about, you know, being a, a designer and how notion or any other support allows you to do your job better?

Anupriy 41:52

Oh, yeah. So I think first of all, as I said, like, you know, as a designer. And I mean, notion is not like an uncommon tool between designers. Many people send their portfolios and other things on notion. I think for me, for any designer, right? I mean, a designer is someone who's just trying to make the world better one step at a time, right? So the main thing for a designer is they need a space of a canvas, right, to put their ideas. Now, whether the idea comes in a written form, whether it comes in some sort of a white board where you can do that, everything is fine, right? But I think what happen at a manager level or I would say like, you know, when I'm going up the ladder also is that I need to find ways where the idea is scalable. I think as you mentioned it, the idea is trackable. I'm a big person who you know, on, on like how do you track the thing because it's very easy to get lost. It's very easy to make a laundry list, right? So for me, any sort of mechanism that allows for some sort of a tracking space, right? That allows for shareability. So like as I said that I, I make a lot of notes right, now, all the notes may not be useful for you. I may overwhelm you if I share it, right? So just let me share this one block of the things so that, you know, you can do that. I know, you know, like now I need to find out what have I shared with you. For me, something like notion allows me. It's like, OK, this has been shared with Taapsi, this part has been shared, but the rest of the things are not being shared. Or I'm feeling very generous, like, let me share the entire book notes with you sort of a thing. So I think that is what I like about notion and what I think as a designer, I'm trying to do. But, but at the same time, I'm very cognizant of the fact that every different company has their own relationship with certain softwares, right? Like the, like currently I'm seeing the rise within cultures, like, you know, let's have Confluence and Jira and other things. So, in fact, one of the questions I had day before yesterday was that if I'm building you know, a playbook for the company that I'm working right now for, should I do it on notion? Because then I'll have to use my personal account and that, or I'll have to ask for license or should I just do it on the you know, a tool like Confluence? And I think for me, it was actually an exciting challenge because if I could convert this, you know, certain frameworks and certain new frameworks in that and figure out that you know that okay this works and figure out more things about the tool that can help, it tells me that, you know, the playbooks that I've been creating are actually tool agnostic and at the same time, they're evolving itself, right? And that is always an exciting thing for a designer because, you know, when you're not tied up to the medium but to the matter. Right. Yeah.

Taapsi 44:14

Absolutely. Anupriy, his was fantastic. Thank you so much for you know, sharing your insights on how you work, but also how a tool like Notion is enabling that. Because I think just like I said, getting into the weeds of how you run your life, your work life is, is something that we wouldn’t otherwise would have the, we wouldn't have the luxury to do. So I really appreciate your time. And you know, I know today is a Saturday, so I'm hoping you've got good Saturday plans for this evening. And thanks again.

Anupriy 44:44

Thanks. Thanks, Taapsi. I think it was really lovely and it's always interesting because these things are so intuitive to yourself. You don't really think about presenting it. It's very personal. So, it really helps in doing that. I'll be really happy if it helps anyone and all and I'm looking forward for more episodes on your channel. Yeah, thanks so much.

Taapsi 45:03

Have a good one. Thank you. Thank you. Bye bye.

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