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Overture, curtains, lights

Well, the first ever Digital Reasoning ShipIt Day is in the books, and all I can say is that I'm sure there will be more in the future. It was an incredible success, and the votes are still being tallied.

We started coding at 2:00PM on Thursday, and the coding stopped at 3:00PM on Friday, so it was technically two calendar days, and not many folks actually coded past 10:00PM. So there was actually about 15 hours of work done instead of 24 hours, but for 2 days of work, all I can say is...

Wow.

In the end, seven teams ended up giving a demo and each one hit it out of the park. Period. We had the following projects:

  • Data Jetway
  • Digital Reasoning Stack Exchange
  • What Did What To What
  • Synthesys Bento
  • Synthesys Insight
  • Duct Tape
  • Buzzwuzz

I worked on two of the teams, so that, on top of being one of the organizers, I abstained from voting altogether, but in the early counts, the one that I helped organize and define the vision for is the leader. Speaking of which, organizing one of these things ended up being relatively simple, so don't think that logistics are a problem with a ShipIt Day.

We provided beverage, food, a well-prepared schedule and a Google Hangout. That's about it.

Any doubts?

If you have any doubts that starting a ShipIt Day for your organization would pay off, I can say unequivocally that it was worth it. Our services, analytics, and engineering teammates all pulled together to build valuable products ideas and worked on all facets of the product:

  • Marketing
  • Documentation
  • QA
  • User interface
  • Core development

Our management team, almost to the person, was 100% supportive of, and engaged in, the process. That's a key piece of the puzzle. If you want to do a ShipIt Day, it has to be an organizational committment, not to be seen as an optional event or an annoying "distraction" from "real work". Such a naive point of view will poison any efforts to get it off the ground.

It's such a win-win scenario that I consider it folly for anyone to not consider running a ShipIt Day. All teammates who participate finally get to work on really interesting things that they've wanted to work on for months, sometimes years, so it's a morale booster and a creativity booster.

The company, in our case, gets seven new ideas for ways to enhance the product for our customers: ideas that would have never come from market analysis or customer interviews, but from the people pouring their minds and hearts into it every day.

Awards Ceremony

Since a good chunk of people had to leave during, or immediately after, the presentations, we decided to hold off on awarding the winner until after the weekend. That gives everyone time to think about who they want to vote for at their leisure.

Abe built a Google Form to accept the votes. We couldn't think of a really good way to have people vote. We had big teams, and little teams, and we want to protect against the big teams all voting for themselves. Then we needed to ensure that the big teams weren't unduly penalized either by preventing the team from voting for their own project.

We ended up using a modified version of the electoral college and we're hoping that it works out fairly, but we honestly have to idea, we're not statiticians.

Once all the votes are in and we tally them with our system, we will announce the winner, and then on December 3rd we will hold an awards ceremony and retrospective. The winning team will get the Digital Reasoning Statue of Awesomeness, and the official award.

I don't want to spoil the suprise of what the trophy is, but here's a list of some that were in the running, but lost.

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Steve Brownlee

Head Coach at Nashville Software School. Evolving software development education.


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