June 26, 2009
Fifteen of us met at The Code Factory on June 18th to work on developing a web application from the ground up. This was fundamentally an experiment to see how a larger group of enterprising people from diverse backgrounds would do at self-organizing into teams for the purposes of defining a new web service.
I wasn’t sure what to expect before going into this and I have to admit it kept me up at night: would we agree on what service to build? Would people feel their skills were being put to use? Would personalities clash?
I must say, the outcome was better than expected, albeit not exactly how I expected the night to unfold.
I was certain that if we didn’t choose an idea up front we would spend the entire night debating the merits of each and every idea, and in the end people would go home unsatisfied. So I decided what type of application we were going to build: a Twitter-based event management system. A couple of us had already been involved with the idea and I had presented it at one of the TeamCamp pitch nights and no one threw tomatoes at me. So it wasn’t too big of a risk.
However, my idea was to build something like Evite or Eventbright, but unique in that it would focus on using Twitter to market the event and track participants. I reviewed the concept, and we had some group discussion, and then we decided to break into four teams. Each team’s take away was to define the service: brainstorm service features and identify the target market. Meanwhile, my job was to basically order the pizza.
After about 30 mins (or when the pizza arrived) we got back together and each team pitched their vision. First of all, every idea was quite different from my vision. I was a little defensive at first, but then I shut up and let the creative juices flow as they should.
Second, they each had a common thread. That’s pretty surpising given that all the teams worked in separate breakout rooms (The Code Factory is perfect for this kind of thing!).
While each presentation had a common thread, they also had something unique to bring to the table. I’m not talking about a “wish list” of features, but ideas that built one upon the other, thus making the sum of the parts greater than the whole.
We all agreed on next steps and went home pretty pumped. That was at about 10:30PM.
I woke up the next morning thinking about what we could work on next. But before I even started to compose my email there was already 2 unread messages waiting for me. Bryan and Michael had already started working on some of the concepts; two of the items on my list were already done!
A subset of the team met a few days later and continued to make significant progress on the project. Moreover, everyone is having fun.
All this is to say that I’m pretty damn excited that we have a project that a large number of us are engaged in. Something we can call our own.
With respect to the idea, I’m pretty certain you’ll be hearing a lot more from us in the near future!