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Delightful Collaboration VI: Getting Right-Brain Friendly

Marney MakridakisI first really made the acquaintance of Marney Makridakis of about one week into her trial, when she sent a lengthy email containing about a dozen questions about CoachAccountable.  Pretty much all of them were of the hard-hitting variety: questions that came from savvy about the how the system worked and thus whose purpose was to push for more.

Marney got right to the point:

Hello. I’m a new user (currently on the trial) with a handful of questions.  I’m starting with about 30 clients, though in the future I may have more than that, as I may be planning a Team setup, where I can supervise my coaches’ coaching – in which case I would have a pretty robust team system.

My questions are below. Some of these may be more along the categories of “wish list” items – but perhaps you might be able to direct me through a workaround for things my client and I might try.  If a phone call is easier for providing support, let me know and I’m happy to call over phone

I opted for the phone call–actually chatting with a coach is way more fun than banging out a detailed email in solitude.  As luck would have it, the answers to a few of her questions were already in my immediate plans and would soon be released (Action Projects and Client Exports).  For the other things we got deep into the nitty gritty of flow (eliminate all emails flying back and forth and have it all instead in-system), scale (manage a large pool of clients in a very high-touch manner), groups (lots of group interaction, collaboration, and sharing), and user comfort (having system be friendly for creative and very visually oriented types).

Marney was a power user in the making, and in her state of already liking the system as it was, she wanted to see it stretch in directions to serve her groups of coachees and their particular style of doing things.  She was rattling off suggestions, good ones, in rapid pace during our 75-minute phone call.

“I’m sorry I’ve got such a long wish list” she said at one point.

“It’s all good, folks who care enough to have high expectations of the system are part of why CA is as good as it is today.”

“That’s very diplomatic of you to say that.  I suspect I’m really more of a pain in the ass, aren’t I?”

“Oh, completely–let me be clear here: I have about half a dozen pain-in-the-ass users, and I love every one of them.  Again, y’all push me to make the system the very best it can be, and the other users of the platform have much to thank you for it.”

She laughed.  She got it.  Over the coming month we had plenty of back-and-forth as she continued to push the system with her highly active groups.

Here’s what’s been added to the platform that we can all thank Marney and her clients for:

  • Full formatting access for clients working on worksheets
  • A color picker for fonts in the WYSIWYG editor
  • Clients able to add images to journal entries and worksheet assignments
  • The Happenings Reports allow for the inclusion of client comments
  • Messages for worksheet assignment notifications can be added as Stream comments
  • The search box on the Stream tab
  • The “back to top” link on the Stream tab
  • Session notes for Groups
  • More inclusive notification settings around client activity
  • The “View this conversation online” link found in most notification emails
  • Worksheets are sorted alphabetically by title
  • Worksheets can be worked on collaboratively between coach and client while in draft form

Overall these tweaks have gone over well with Marney’s people.  One said:

I LOVE systems with flexibility and this perfect for that. I can imagine it being a challenge for some right brain people, I say this with love and compassion but in fact this could be an absolute gift to them to help get organized and support them achieving their business/personal goals, once they allow themselves to be flexible in it. We are very lucky. Thank you. :-)


Wow and wow. I have just been playing with the Project Action Tabs and it is absolutely brilliant. Not only can you list the actions under different headings which is just fab but when you go into Up Next what ever dates you have chosen to complete comes up in order. Easy, peasy, no figuring out what next, it is just there. I can feel my head and shoulders feeling lighter and lighter. Having no problems changing dates if I need to. Oh my goodness. I love this! Thank you.

Marney relayed yet another comment to me:

A client last night commented that the new tool felt like a combination of my two newest books – one of which is called Creating Time and the other one is called Hop Skip Jump, coming out in the fall, which is all about the intersections between play and productivity. I thought that was an astute comment…that CA both creates more time, AND makes productivity more fun. :-)

Quite the compliment, and I’m delighted that you and your people feel so at home using CA as the medium for collaboration and communication for the work you do.

So here’s to you, Marney: you gave me quite the lot of work to grow the system so as to make it ideal for you and your cohort, and CA is all around better for it.


  1. David McQuarrie

    WOW- what a wonderful collaboration indeed. Thank God for right brain users :)

    It makes such a difference when you can connect on that level, doesn’t hurt that you just happen to be the programmer also, it makes a collaboration like this both possible and fruitful.

    Great to read such a positive experience, and a ton of new features for all CA users.

    Thanks ….David

    October 10, 2014 @ 7:12 am

  2. Keep it up, Marney! As a fellow pain-in-the-ass user, I can attest to the fact that for once, we’re fortunate enough to have an application developer who gives a rip about their product to the degree that he’s actually willing to consider AND implement many of our good suggestions for product improvement. So let’s keep the suggestions rolling in and improving this product while we still have that influence.

    October 10, 2014 @ 9:21 am

  3. Marney

    Glad to know I’m not alone in being a pain in the ass. And I *know* I’m not alone in my gratitude for John and his unique gift for utilizing feedback and ideas from his users. Thank you, John!

    October 13, 2014 @ 8:05 pm