March 25, 2022

Narrative Logs

Carrier bags and courses: Making the SEO MBA log

When you know where you’re going it’s easy to navigate. When you don’t know where you’re going… well obviously steering is a bit harder?

That’s why working with the garage door open or thinking in public is a powerful tool for research projects, startups and new ventures.

I’ve long been inspired by Matt Webb’s weeknotes from Berg - if you’re not familiar he talks about them in his pre-history of weeknotes:

My habit at BERG, for some years, was to go to the studio on Saturday mornings and reflect on the week. One of my most rambling, longest, personally-most-enjoyable weeknotes was Week 315 and it came from a morning like that. It’s a series of notes of whatever was on my mind, and word-sketches about studio life.

As I begin to transition into running the SEO MBA as my full-time thing, my daily and weekly rhythms are all new. The tempo and cadence of building a course is very different from doing client consulting work and I’m still adjusting and finding my feet.

So I’ve started up something between a ship’s log and weeknotes, the SEO MBA log:

I don’t need another blog place to write, but I am enjoying keeping a record of what I did, how I felt and what happened. It’s as much for me as anyone else. I don’t know where I’m going but the least I can do is show where I’ve been.

It’s already useful - for example I can see that it took me about 3 weeks between starting to shoot video and the course being live.

The design and format was inspired by Doubleloop which is a kind of tool for documenting and creating narratives around strategy. They’ve pivoted slightly away from the initial product but I love their public changelog idea.

Maybe if you’re working on a project and don’t have a clear idea of where you’re going but want to increase your surface area for serendipity you should consider some kind of weeknotes/ships log.

After all, if blogging is all about boat stories then you need a ships log:

We of the twenty-first century are bloggers first, and book writers second. We don’t do dragons or carrier bags. We do boats.

This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in the comments or sign up for my newsletter.