In October of last year, I wrote about how we were using Scrum to drive agile marketing campaigns. This ended up being our pilot program to see if Scrum works outside of the software world.
We found out a lot of what makes Scrum so great does in fact work outside the walls of software, just not everything. We actually deemed the practice “Scrum” (yes, making finger quotes when you say it!).
A year later all of our teams are using some elements of Scrum, and to a much greater degree, embracing the constructs of Agile that help us get things done. We are trying not to call it Scrum either, when it’s not.
Our software teams still embrace Scrum and the rest of our company has learned a thing or two from this.
Agile-versary??? Stay tuned for more about this exciting effort in the next few months!
Last week Geonetric held its second annual Operation Overnight, a 24-hour volunteer event that brings teams from across Geonetric together with local area nonprofits in need of website makeovers (or even first websites). Despite it being a 24-hour event with the feel of a hackathon, many of the basic tenets and concepts from Scrum are applicable. In fact, I posit that a Scrum approach is more important, not less important, for an event like this.
Breaking the day’s work into manageable sprints, having a sprint board, hourly standups, retros, and a clear investment in backlog grooming — all help. In fact, this year I introduced a new concept to our Operation Overnight team: the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). What’s an MVP? Kenneth S. Rubin, noted Scrum theorist and author, introduces it this way:
Change is scary. But what happens when you throw all convention out the window? Like really let loose and do something totally extreme. When you keep doing something over and over that doesn’t work… isn’t that the definition of insanity? So instead of driving yourself crazy, beating your head against the wall doing the same old thing, what’s stopping you from trying something different?
If you follow our blog, you’ve probably heard how we jumped in and implemented agile methodologies throughout our entire organization. Whether you know what that means or not, the bottom line is we knew we could do things better but the constraints of traditional management and organizational structure were preventing us from changing.
At our last company meeting, we watched a video about pit stops. Why? Because it was freaking awesome to watch! The Red Bull team set the record for the fastest pit stop in April of this year. The video shows it in slow motion for a minute and a half, and then the entire process in real time.
So, before you watch it, predict right now how long you think it takes to do a pit stop for a Formula One racecar. Remember it, we’ll come back after you check it out (you will want to put in on HD, and turn up your speakers):
At Geonetric, we’re all about cross-functional teams. We organize ourselves in groups of people with various expertise and we all work toward a common goal.
This year’s Geonetric Games was no different. Teams were formed and a heated competition ensued. Teams took the events as seriously as we take our commitment to doing great client work! This year’s favorite events included office chair relays, javelin (a.k.a. pool noodle) toss, and a water balloon toss (er… fight). As I whizzed past CEO Eric Engelmann in an office chair I thought, “How awesome is Geonetric?”
If you want to participate in next year’s Geonetric Games, check out our current job openings and join the fun! Bring on next year!
The most common place where technological solutions go wrong is that they’re built for the person building them and not for the person who will be using them.
Where teams fail is not that they don’t intend for the solution to work for the target audience but rather an inability to recognize they are not a member of that target audience. This is not as obvious as you might think. If you’re building a website for cancer patients, the challenge is not that you believe yourself to be a cancer patient. Rather, the gap is in realizing an actual cancer patient is going to use the tool differently than you will.
This phenomenon has a name – The Malkovich Bias: The tendency to believe that everyone uses technology the same way that you do.
I’ve been developing Web strategies for years. And I recently realized – I’ve been doing them wrong this whole time.
I create strategies by the book, more or less. I begin with research and analysis, develop goals and tactics and then put it all on paper. And that’s when I get a little nervous – as soon as that strategy is committed to paper.
But before we explore the source of my discomfort, let’s review why we create “strategies.”
The concept of strategy actually comes from military operations. It speaks to the manner in which resources are utilized and deployed in pursuit of an objective. In business, we often struggle to define exactly what a strategy is. This becomes even more difficult when referring to focused strategies such as a “Web strategy.” We’re frequently asked, “What goes into a Web strategy?”
Wikipedia defines a Web strategy as “… a long-term strategic business plan indicating how to create and develop a company’s online presence adhering to the business development strategy.” Huh? A Web strategy is a business plan adhering to another strategy? Aren’t strategies and business plans different things?
Yes. But (hopefully) they point us the same direction.
This week, resident content experts Maggie and Jill joined me at the Confab Minnesota conference. We were among more than six hundred content strategists whose projects run the gamut from global enterprises to two-person Web teams, manufacturing to healthcare, retail to non-profit.
Much time was spent as you’d expect: talking about words. Creating the appropriate voice for your organization, dealing with content overload, and, in general, creating better content experiences.
Marketing channels and audience behaviors are evolving rapidly. Traditional marketing campaigns take months to implement and even longer to see tangible value. And they’re much too rigid to work in today’s fast-paced marketing environment.
Geonetric approaches marketing differently. We launch Responsive Campaigns ― campaigns that not only help healthcare marketers prove their value, but also solve many of the flaws inherent in traditional campaigns. Continue reading →
If you’ve worked in the Web industry for any length of time, you’re painfully aware of how challenging it is to plan for, create, and maintain great content. In healthcare, as in many other industries, there is an enormous amount of informational content. It can easily become overwhelming. However, nothing is more central than content to the success of your online strategy and the overall experience of your audience.
Talk with content strategy experts and you will hear war stories about hours spent manipulating spreadsheets. Dozens of articles and blog posts describe in tedious detail how to combine numerous data files into a single view. All of this cutting, pasting, manipulation, and frustration doesn’t leave much time – or energy – for actually understanding the content or developing a solid strategy, let alone writing anything. Continue reading →
Marketing is a fast-paced discipline. Every day, new tactics and opportunities for getting your message out to your target audience are uncovered and vying for budget. Which tactics are best? How do you know if you should put your eggs in the billboard basket or the PPC basket? And how do you measure these tactics in a meaningful way, tying clicks and passerby’s back to actual procedures and service line volume?
No amount of gut instinct can tell you for sure.
A New Approach
That’s why we take a different approach at Geonetric. We launch Responsive Campaigns — campaigns that are flexible, nimble and easy to adjust.
Last quarter, and most of 2012, the primary pain point our clients revealed in our Client Satisfaction survey was issues with deployment of our software. So for the past few months we’ve been implementing our new push button automated deployment system, which takes a single click to do, is more reliable, and much faster.
We looked with anticipation to the Q1 2013 survey to see if the changes had any effect. The results are in, and we had the highest overall score we’ve ever gotten: 5.27 on a scale of 1-6. Continue reading →
It’s been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We took our first step toward Agile in 2008 with our development team. We’ve taken hundreds of additional steps since then. But by 2013, we felt like we had taken all of the easy steps we could take. The next steps looked tougher.
Operation Overnight 2012 came and went quickly. It was a huge success! We had 24 hours to build four websites. A daunting task, surely, but not one that we wanted to shy away from. That wouldn’t have been the Geonetric way! 50+ volunteers, lots of coffee, soda and food, and an all-nighter full of fun and we produced some great results!
My team was assigned to build http://www.365ride.org from the ground up. Unlike the other three teams, 365ride came into Operation Overnight without an existing Web presence and very little source material (brochures, etc.). In the end, both our team and our client were very happy with the finished product.
The site’s purpose is to be a place for people seeking information. Before the site, information was scattered across many places on and off the Web. The Frequently Asked Questions section was a high priority and the team did some really cool things to keep information flowing through the site, only duplicating it where necessary. The end result is a destination that the community can use to get information about public transportation options throughout Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area.