This post will mostly be about our selection process. Perhaps this will be uninteresting to most of you…but I wanted to just get it down somewhere before I was too mired in the details of the project to remember what happened today….
We began the day by facing the whiteboards full of brainstormed ideas from yesterday. We then added to and refined some of the ideas on the boards. Mostly, we asked ourselves what we’d forgotten the previous day, and filled in gaps. To narrow down the dozens of ideas on the boards, we each took 3 sticky notes and placed them by our favorites. This yielded six major ideas/projects. For each of those projects we discussed exactly how we imagined their implementation. Then there seemed to be a general hesitancy among the group about how we should proceed. So we turned to twitter, sending out the ideas and asking for input. Dan stayed behind to tabulate the votes while the rest of us went to lunch. Interestingly, at lunch I heard a lot of avid advocacy for some of the less-popular choices. When we returned and saw the twitter tally, it seemed obvious that not everyone on the team agreed with the crowdsourced choices.
We then evaluated each option in terms of their feasibility, audience, impact, extensibility, and sustainability, and discussed even further how we imagined their implementation, especially what the immediate product would be and how new features could be rolled out in the future. We then voted by secret ballot, everyone being allowed to vote for their top three choices. Almost without exception, we all chose the same three tools. Then we voted for just two of those three, with our second choice being weighted at 50%. That was a sobering moment. The tool that garnered the highest score was actually most everyone’s second choice, with the top choices being split among the two other tools. That caused some concern, and I wondered if we would re-count or re-think the decision. I felt sort of let-down that my first choice actually received the most “first-choice” votes from the team, but that we’d be developing a different tool. It took me a moment to get over that, and to get as excited about the winning project as I had been about the one that I’d hoped we’d develop. [Note: the tool that we're building will not be publicly announced until the close of #oneweek.]
And then, the work began.
We clarified, as a group, exactly how this tool would work and how it would be built. We went around the room and chose our roles for the project, and then began some rough discussion of how we would proceed. However, it was dinnertime and there was some aimlessness and frustration. It seemed evident that we needed some leadership and some better-defined plans. We separated for an hour with the charge to think about what we wanted our role in the project to be, and reconvened later at the hotel.
From the discussion at the hotel, three separate teams emerged: Development, User Experience, and Outreach. We re-defined which team we wanted to be on. We chose leaders for each of the teams. We ensured that all of the bases were covered for the project. And then we separated into our subgroups and started working (and working and working).
It’s quite late now and I’m a bit too tired to offer much analysis of the experience, other than to remark on just how nervous I was during the selection process this morning. It was something akin to the jittery nerves I’ve gotten prior to giving an important conference talk. I have a lot invested in the success of this project already, and I really want it to be useful and important to my community. (And it will be. Y’all are really gonna love this tool.)