Getting the most out of your time here


The Kool-Aid Factory is, by design, a sprawling project.
It explores high-level principles and ground-level tactics. It draws on research from founding teams in their early days to industry-shaping organizations that have been at it for decades. It’s written with everyone from the CEO to the summer intern in mind. It advocates for the work that starts at the top as much as the work that moves through the crannies. It highlights common ground and shows off company quirks. 
Given how much all that sprawl intimidates its writer, I can imagine how much it intimidates its reader. The site is designed to help with that, but if you think a little more context or more support could help even more, read on.

How it all fits together

The project is comprised of several zines about the ways organizations coordinate. Each zine covers a single topic and contains an extensive collection of coordination mechanisms on that topic. They aim to help you, dear reader, by:

  • Showing you the superset of the mechanisms organizations rely on. No organization does all of them but all great organizations to do some of them. 
  • Providing principles and implementation guidance into why organizations rely on these and how they’re implemented, so that you can learn. 
  • Helping you prioritize which mechanisms your organization might benefit from, and which you might be best positioned to take action on (or advocate for). 
  • Guiding you in getting started. Every mechanism you’ll see can be implemented now. All they require is some energy and intention. 

That’s where you come in.

It’s up to you, dear reader, to bring the right tactics to your team, at the right time, in a way that feels like you. 

Sometimes that will look like copying and pasting. Sometimes that will look like ignoring something or bookmarking it for the future. Sometimes it will look like letting an idea grab you and then integrating it into your world in a way that only you know how.

In all these scenarios, you must be the bridge between the words on the screen and the real live humans solving real live problems for your real live customers are your company.

As you come across tactics you’re eager to explore, hit the checkbox next to the name of the tactic. This will add it to your To-Do List which you can have emailed once you’re ready to get going.

Deciding where to start

  • Looking for the right zine to start with? Head to the Get Started Page, where you can filter based on what topic you’re interested, what benefits you want to bring your organization, what your role is. You can learn more about each filter by clicking ‘more details.’ You can also see the full list of issues below.
  • Looking for the right mechanisms to try? Pick an issue and then filter based on the kind of guidance you’re looking for, how broad-reaching you’d like your tactics to be, and what your role is. You can learn more about each filter by clicking ‘more details.’  
  • Looking to get the gears turning on a particular topic? Pick an issue and download the Workbook, which includes exercises for you to try (independently, or in a group).
  • Still fuzzy? Read through The Full list of Zines or The Full List of Filters section below or to see what grabs your attention. Or, the Another Path In section.

The Full List of Zines





The full list of filters

  • Zine topics include: 
    • The organization: the foundations that everyone at your company works from
    • The work: the work your company produces
    • The people: the people that comprise your company
    • Communication and collaboration: how people interact to get the work done
    • see how these map to zine issues above
  • Benefits to explore bringing to your organization include:
    • Values + Standards: internalizing the company’s beliefs and expectations
    • Trust + Execution: upholding values and standards in the run of work
    • Knowledge + Context: operating with more crossfunctional awareness
    • Joy + Connection: infusing work relationships with spirit and meaning
    • see how these map to zine issues above
  • Roles are categorized by:
    • Company Leader: Someone with direct influence over the direction of the company and what is brought onto the company stage.
    • Crossfunctional Influencer: Someone who makes decisions across multiple teams or functional groups.
    • Domain Expert/Team Lead: Someone with strong command of a specific topic and/or the leader of a functional group.
    • Operator: Anyone getting work done with a command of the company’s values/standards and the inclination uphold them.
    • try filtering for the roles of others you are a stakeholder of or to
  • Types of mechanisms you might be looking for are described as:
    • Nuts and Bolts: Foundational mechanisms to get started with. If you take a look around, you’ll find that most great organizations rely on their own version of this.
    • Wrenches and Hammers: Supplemental mechanisms to do more with. Many great organizations use these to close gaps or respond to challenges.
    • Factory Favorites: Lesser-utilized tactics I have come across in my research that I think more companies could benefit from trying.
    • Recipe Under Development: Research on best practices and potential impact is still underway. (And, I’d love your thoughts!)
    • A Gulp of Kool-Aid: The highest-impact, furthest-reaching tactics for everyone at the company engage with.
    • A Sip of Kool-Aid: Nice-to-have or opt-in tactics for smaller groups, like teams or working groups, to experiment with.
    • try filtering for the roles of others you are a stakeholder of or to

A note on filtering for company size

Many early readers asked me to include a filter for size of company. After lots and lots of research, I concluded that it wasn’t a very useful cut. Founders and leaders prioritize differently. A company of one may be born with a crisp mission statement, while a larger company doesn’t feel a need to define theirs. A small team building a complex product with a lot of interdependency may need to rely on planning while inertia may be enough a larger, less coupled, organization to get the right stuff done.

What’s far more useful, though it requires a bit more introspection, is to consider phase you are in for the work and what sphere of influence you are working from.

Are you laying the foundations (try Nuts and Bolts), looking to level up, or plugging a hole (try Wrenches and Hammers)? Do you want to try something out with your local team (try Kool-Aid Sip) or ensure it ripples out through your whole organization from the outset (try Kool-Aid Gulp)? For either approach, who would you need support from (try your role + another)? Do you want to do something more experimental (Factory Favorites) or stick with the tried and true (Nuts and Bolts)?

Still stuck? Another path in.

I'm reading to

Navigation Tips

Satisfy a broad curiosity.

None. Follow your heart and start reading!

See what I can do to help at my company right now

Filter for your role on the Get Started page or on a particular zine.

Gut check that I have the must-have foundational tactics in place.

Filter for the Benefit you would like to bring more of to your organization on the Get Started page OR Pick an issue and filter for Nuts and Bolts.

To effectively respond to a challenge in our organization.

Filter for the Benefit you would like to bring more of to your organization on the Get Started page OR Pick an issue and filter for Hammer and Wrench.

Find guidance on foundational concepts that will dictate my approach.

Pick an issue and filter for Nuts and Bolts.

Explore the tactics furthest-reaching, highest-impact ripples.

Pick an issue and filter for Kool-Aid Gulp.

Supplement foundational work with some nice-to-have, opt-in mechanisms.

Pick an issue and filter for Kool-Aid Sip.

Experiment with lesser-utilized tactics that could be a neat fit for our company.

Pick an issue and filter for Factory Favorites.

See what mechanisms are being researched or under exploration.

Pick an issue and filter for Recipe Under Development.

A request for your input

The more perspectives and stories The Kool-Aid Factory captures, the more impactful it will be. If you’re inclined to share yours, I hope you’ll leave a comment by hitting the message icon.
The mechanisms labeled “Recipe Under Development” are those that I’m actively exploring. I’d be especially grateful for your contribution.