Captain's Logs - public journaling for leadership

Hi everyone!
There’s a topic I’ve been meaning to share here for a while, which should interest the Focused crew, which is the topic of public journaling.

I’m a creative director in the games industry, leading a team of other directors and production professionals, and my job is to maintain the creative vision of the games I direct. A fun job although one that requires juggling a lot of plates at the same time.
On a previous project on which I was both creative and art director, I was under heavy stress (I suppose having a baby at the same time also didn’t help, athough I keep thinking she’s what keeps me sane, but that’s another topic :slight_smile: ). Following the recurring suggestions from the Focused podcast to look at journaling, I started, three years ago, to journal every night.
In the context of a project that was putting me under a constant stream of problems to solve, it was a way for me to lay the day in front of me in the calm of my own head and get a clear picture of what happened so I could come to the next day fully prepared and clear of mind, rather than be in quick reaction mode all the time.
This worked well and I became quite the evangelist of the practice to my peers and colleagues.

But I started something new back in November, by making my “Captain’s Logs” (yeah I really called them that because I know no shame) public to the team and my own boss, the studio head.
I though it would be a good way for everyone to have a direct connection to my head and understand how and why I reach certain conclusions when comes the time to make decisions.

And so far so good. I’ve sent out one such log every night, without fail (I’m quite proud of that one, although knowing it will be read adds to the pressure) and I’ve only received positive feedback, ranging from people getting a deeper understanding of my own process and ideas, to appreciation from those who may not be involved in the decision making.
As for including my boss in here, besides the fact we’re also in friendly terms and have an informal working relationship, this allows him to have “dailies” of my project without needing to meet every day. It makes our collaboration more fluid.

And while I was worried it would dilute the sort of things I would dare say in these logs, it hasn’t been an issue. I’ve actually used those as a secret tribune to point out concerns, both team-focused and studio-wide, triggering interesting and fruitful conversations.

There you have it, and here’s my question:
I was wondering if anyone here did the same, had been doing it for longer than I have and perhaps found some insights I haven’t reached yet. What do you think?



I think it’s a really interesting idea. I’m curious what tools you use to create and disseminate your Captain’s Logs.

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I’m glad you’re seeing something interesting here! :slight_smile:
I used to have a few different ways to do it. Early on, I actually used Slack, through making a channel to myself, and posting there. That ensured I always had it near by and could jot down easily.
Of course, Slack isn’t the best tool for that, so I moved to Day One, appreciating the focus it brought, especially on iPad. I still use it today.
However, since I’m also sharing it with the team, I figured the most convenient way for everybody was to actually send an e-mail every night, to all my recipients, but also, in CCI, to Day One (you can post-by-email, it’s in the options), which means through writing my e-mail, I both get my log out to my team and into my Day One journal, with just one swift click. :slight_smile:

It’s a simple setup that fits the fact I type this journal, with the occasional picture added.
If I were to handwrite it, though, I’d probably do the same, only replacing the typing with adding the scan or jpg of my handwritten note to that email I send every night.


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It is a very intriguing idea. The Trek-inspired Captain’s Log angle seems particularly important. I have seen many leaders distributing regular messages to their organizations, particularly during the Pandemic. Still, most of those approaches have felt a little contrived. They involve any of three things:

  1. The messages are mostly just the headlines of important memos distributed recently (essentially organizational propaganda). These messages just feel condescending, like the leader doesn’t trust the organization to read what’s relevant.
  2. The messages are directed to the community, which means it essentially has no audience at all (in the large organizations I participate in).
  3. The messages seem highly scripted, which make them feel inauthentic.

The way I understand your approach, the messages are written as introspective, public memos to yourself. That seems more compelling! You could still hit on big updates, but make it a new take by discussing your experience with new policies or whatever. You have an audience (yourself!), which makes the message more focused and interesting. Last, because it’s self-reflection, it probably reads more genuinely than a regular “Dear staff,” message.

Has anyone higher up in the hierarchy taken an interest in the messages? One concern I’d have is that people will start to see it as a mechanism and therefore ask you to include certain things, which could dilute the concept over time. Any thoughts on how to protect against that—if it’s even a real concern?

(Ahoy from another Canadian!)

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Thanks for the comment!
And I’m not surprised you’ve seen that idea expressed in the ways you mention. And you’re right, my approach is more naive, I suppose. I really mean these for myself, and make them public for both information (people know what’s up) and education.

This part is the tricky one: It implies that your staff doesn’t understand what your job is, and there’s a sort of pretentiousness in thinking your experience is interesting to read. It’s kind of like forcing your team to read your blog, which doesn’t sound great.
And initially, I was thinking of making it just an actual blog published internally, but I figured no one would go after a few days, and I mean to have the connection these give me.
In the end, all the feedback I have is positive and encouraging. Turns out people really do not know what my job really entails, and my stance is that I’m learning too, so I’m sharing what I learn so we all are on the same page. I’m both directing and representing the projects and the team, so the more my team understands why I do what I do, the better we can move together as a group, I feel.

And higher up, it is seen as a welcome update on things, as well as a tribune. I speak freely, and take a bit of risk that way, but I’m fortunate that it’s seen as a sign of trust.
I haven’t been asked to add anything to them, as I make them for myself. I’ve also never been asked to remove anything.
That said, I’m also aware of my audience and know not to create incidents by, for instance, talking about somebody else by name in ways they may not appreciate on a public platform.

The Star Trek inspiration solved it for me: Picard really blogs out his day and tries to make it insightful and reflective, and that’s what I do, not as a way to preach (and the Focused podcast touched on that recently) but as a way to share a personal thought.