1) Group decision-making is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it gives people a feeling of empowerment and ownership. On the other hand, it’s easy to waste a lot of time. To adjust for this, we’ve established some ground rules for granularity of decision-making (purchases under $50 don’t need a full vote, it’s better to get started on something and bring in others’ ideas later than to sit around and wait or schedule a meeting, etc.).
2) “Company strategy” in a traditional sense no longer works. Owing to the free-flow nature of our work, internal milestones/goals seem to be much harder to keep. (Actually, this lines up exactly with David Allen’s GTD theories about goals and calendars, but I’ll save that for another time.) Now we have dailies, frequent reviews and on-the-fly discussions to make sure we’re all moving in the same direction, and we save Goals for absolute, cant-miss, must-do items only.
3) It takes a village to stay on task. Although each of us will work harder, better, faster, stronger on things we’re interested in, and it makes sense to be agile in setting our own proirities, we also have to be open to gentle nudges from other team members to do the less fun stuff.
4) Traditional job roles are now less relevant. Although we still have our areas of expertise, it’s more important that when something needs to get done whoever’s free jumps on it and gets going. That goes for development for contract work and our own apps, supporting elements such as the website, writing proposals, etc. This brings a lot of advantages: your team learns more about what each other do, and each individual expands their skill set. It’s quite important that no one is territorial (“Hey! I’M in charge of the web services for the iSchmuck app, not you!!!) but so far we haven’t had that problem.
I’m happy to say that things are going great so far. In our first two months we’ve launched three mobile apps on two platforms (iPhone and Android). We’ve continued to support our pre-existing contracts and closed two more. We’re getting more done, we’re learning more, and we’re having more fun. Check out our About Us page, which really reflects the fact that we look to each other all the time.
In the future we’ll talk about how we collaborate, with ideas about crowdsourcing, skill set redundancy, collaboration tools, and more. In the meantime, please share your insights with us!