Planning a cathedral at the bazaar

Peter Mahnke

on 6 November 2013

So I am stretching the metaphor a bit, but I think it accurately explains my experience of the recent cloud sprint in San Francisco.

The week starts with some presentations and talks about where we are now and where we want to be from a company, marketplace and product perspective.  This lasts about two hours, then all 115 of us are set free to figure out what we can do to help best achieve these visions. Things are more organised than at an unconference , there are tracks and rooms and sessions planned, but it is all very fluid.  Each day reveals itself and  the week gathers its own momentum.

Spencer, Ale and Luca looking at a wireframe
Some people are here to finish off some work and coordinate releases. Some people are trying to plan the next six month cycle with team-mates they only see a few times a year. Some people have just joined the company and some people are trying to design for the next year or more.  That’s us.

While most here are looking at April, we are brainstorming, paper prototyping, grabbing stakeholders, talking to users, meeting with developers and trying to build that shared vision for a set of products and where they might go in the future — inspiring, chaotic, impossible, crazy, amazing.

set of wireframes and post-it notes

But we are also trying to finish things off from the last cycle, pay some technical debt, polish up a few things.  We are trying to listen to what else is happening, it all moves so fast. We also sign-up to get at least four other smaller things done in the next month.

At the end of the week, a few things are finished. Even better, a few more big things are planned. Dozens of drawings, hundreds of post-it notes are photographed. We shake hands with friends and colleagues that we will only talk to online for a few months and head home to get building.

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