TightOps is about people working together in the modern work environment. It is the missing link between competent and skilled professionals, designed to provide a framework for communication and collaboration with a sense of flow: low stress, high efficiency.

In today’s knowledge worker era, no one is working in isolation. TightOps is all about team interactions, communication, and processes.

The purpose of TightOps is simply to make your company or team better: less in, more out – in a sane way.

We created the basic idea for TightOps because we needed it – we soon found out others do as well.


Tight Operations, short TightOps, was started by Nico Appel and Max Lielje in 2012. The team was joined by Joanna Sides early 2019.

Like many freelancers or entrepreneurs, we have studied and applied various personal productivity methods. But these mostly focus on a single individual, they are about managing oneself. At the other end of the spectrum you have full-fledged project management methodology, which focuses on roles and the management of tasks and deliverables.

But how does a team communicate and collaborate specifically? Just because you hire a writer, a designer and a developer to create a website, they are likely not going to produce the desired outcome in an efficient manner.

We found that there have to be some fundamental guidelines in place. When you learn about them, the TightOps framework, you might think: OK, that makes sense. And that is by design.

We asked ourselves over and over: What would be the best solution in this situation? Where does this go? How should this be named, and why? How should this be communicated or shared? Why is this other way causing problems, rework or stress? And so, bit by bit, we built and documented this framework – in practice, not as a mere theory. And it should simply make sense when you think about it. It can’t be an artificially complicated, or even proprietary framework.

We saw it daily in our work with clients: low quality communication causes stress, frustration and misunderstandings within and across teams. These symptoms hurt actual people and leave them dissatisfied and frustrated with their work. We wanted to sort out the apparent communication mess that exists almost everywhere and find a way to get things done efficiently and with our sanity intact.

Back in 2011, we were managing a team at rethink, a growing media agency in Berlin. The young company was hiring continuously to keep up with increasing demand. There was little structure in the onboarding process. People got a desk with a computer, plus an introduction to the espresso machine. We had talented people, but no standards for how they should communicate and collaborate, no framework which would help them get coordinated. Most companies don’t have that. And it’s generally accepted for the most part. Let us tell you: it should not be.

Around the same time, Nico was working to restructure and reorganize his wife’s company to allow for it to be managed and run location-independent. The task was to take a brick and mortar business and make it

  1. scalable,
  2. structurally reliable, and
  3. flexible (managed from anywhere with a laptop and an internet connection).

In 2012 Nico joined Chris Kirkland at ArtWeb.com to run marketing and operations. ArtWeb was a remote company with a distributed team spread across multiple continents and time zones. This was a perfect opportunity to apply and further develop Tight Operations.

What you find here today are the results of our continuous experiments, real-life experience and the desire to work with people creatively in a dynamic environment while acting economically and not sacrificing our sanity.

Welcome to TightOps!