Paul Quigley CEO of Newswhip wrote a lovely blogpost about the great Snail Derby of 1998. Faced with the problem of getting the Snails to race in the same direction, an innovative 6yo came up with Snail Trails.
Snail trails. Snail trails are not a product you can buy. Snail trails are a streak of water, placed in front of a snail using one’s fingertip.
You see, snails prefer pushing themselves over wet surfaces than dry surfaces. My girlfriend observed that a simple streak of wetness leading directly from the snail’s current position to the finish line kept them on the straight and narrow, so to speak. Snail trails saved the day, and the snail derby of 1988 was a roaring success.
Paul goes on to describe how you create snail trails for customer acquisition for SaaS businesses.
There is a broader lesson for businesses in the use of technology. Demming said that “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” A snail trail is a better system. It’s a very clever use of lightweight technology to reduce friction in a process. Good systems do that. They reduce organisational friction. They drive better organisational conversations. And the value of reducing friction in processes and conversations is very very large.
One company that is building organisational snail trails is Slack. I’m a very big fan of Slack. The value of what it’s is doing is rumoured to be up to $2 Billion. Double what it was worth 12 months ago. That’s part of the value that Slack is capturing. And it reflects a small portion of value that it is creating by building better Snail Trails.