In July of ‘34, at the height the Hoover Dam’s construction, over 5,000 men were on site working for six separate companies, blasting rock, pouring concrete, wiring turbines, and moving canyon walls. Basically; getting epic stuff done. It’s awe inspiring, and for me the greater miracle is that this team built one of the great technical marvels of any time with only two essential project management tool: their voices (probably shouting) and confidence in co-workers.
We’re not building a dam at Percolate, I promise. There’s no Percolate concrete being poured on Broadway, I am confused by those wooden things that look like root beer barrels in Ikea furniture, no chance I’m rerouting water.
We might not be building a dam, but we are working as a team and doing it well. I wanted to share a little on how we do it.
Things haven’t changed that much since ’34: talking still works. Weekly meetings involve every team member presenting their goals for the week and grading themselves on the previous week, while also encouraging everyone to ask for help if they need it. These meetings are important, because communicating helps us all get better and encourages listening, which may be even more valuable than the actual sharing. We are a relatively small team now, but as we grow this process will remain intact.
We aim to communicate so anyone and everyone on the team can understand. Dom is a master at this, by beginning each project and feature with a story that easily translates to a vision and something that can be explained. We strive to use human language on everything from training documents to SOWs. Extending the Hoover Dam analogy, if you yelled your last email down a mine shaft would it be understood or would the foreman walk out of the mine and hit you in the mouth?
We strive to do things well because we care. Our clients are companies made up of interesting and nice people and we strive hard to build tools to make their jobs more enjoyable and easier. Our caring sparks healthy debates, passionate discussions about all of our features, and many late nights worrying if we made the right decision. But it also does something greater; it translates into the Percolate product constantly improving and our client projects being more enjoyable because we are vested in each and every one being great.
If your own interaction with coding or clients is small, it doesn’t lessen the impact you can have. Just because you’re a junior planner, you can still impact a project with something as simple as taking the extra second to be clear when communicating between teams or taking an extra pass over a presentation. How enjoyable is it when a customer service person slows down, really listens and helps you out? It’s awesome. We strive for that with everything.
Pick Good Tools.
It’s not all high-fives, coffee talk and hugs at Percolate. Here are some tools we love.
Asana - Fantastic application for tracking tasks, mapping out our releases, assigning things to do and communicating through bugs and features. Love the interface, email functionality, clean design, and the satisfaction of checking things off.
Workflowy – Perfect, lightweight tool to outline a project or plan. It’s a really nice way to bullet out what has to happen or where things can be found.
GitHub – GitHub is makes it easy for us to code and see what is happening with each other’s code. The biggest difference between GitHub and document collaboration software is that it provides some mechanisms for helping several people work on the same file at once and logically “merge” all their work together, even over different times and conflicting changes.
Talk, care, pick some good tools and be clear with each other. Not much has changed since 1934.