Geonetric’s 6th Scrumiversary

Geonetric Retro Meeting

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!

But Did We Enjoy Doing It?

Photo of Bill Basler working

So what is Operation Overnight?

The ultimate test of team dynamics. A collaboration of goals. And, a leap of faith into the unknown. You’re put on a team you don’t work with regularly. You have one day to build a new Web site. From scratch. At the end of that period of time, it has to be delivered. To make it even more challenging, you don’t really know many of the requirements going in.

If you got that project at work, I’m sure you’d think about getting the old resume together. What happens if you don’t get it done? What if there are too many requirements? What if you don’t like the people you’re working with? How do you know if your deliverable will be good enough?
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Operation Overnight: Making a Life by What We Give

Photo of a thank you card reading, "Thank You Geonetric!"

Why Operation Overnight? Why 24 hours?

We don’t stay up 24 hours because it is a cool thing to do, we stay up 24 hours to touch lives. And we touch lives through the websites that we build for these very deserving non-profits in our community. We give by doing what we do best – helping these organizations create a presence on the Web that will enable them to reach more people – people that might need help as well as people that may want to donate their time or money.

It’s that simple.
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Scrum, Minimum Viable Product and Operation Overnight

Image of Geonetric's Operation Overnight logo

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:
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Embrace What Makes a Team Better and Ditch What Doesn’t

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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.

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Pit Stops and Continuous Improvement

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):


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The Geonetric Games: Cross-Functional Teams for the Win!

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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!

Aiming for Five: Q2 2013 Client Satisfaction Results

FiveYou probably know we’re a bit fanatical about measuring and acting on our clients’ feedback, so much so that we do it every 90 days. And then we post about it publicly on this blog. (Why? Because we think it holds us accountable to both clients and prospective clients!)

For our second quarter 2013 client satisfaction survey, we’re proud to announce that we exceeded our goal of 5.0 or better on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest) in the Overall Satisfaction category, scoring a 5.08.
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Geonetric’s New Home in New Bohemia

If you’re in the Creative Corridor, you might know that Geonetric is planning a big move next year to the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids. We’ve been in our current location since 2004, and while it has treated us well, we’re excited about swapping our current office park for a real, well, neighborhood.

We’ll be on the third floor of a building that will look something like this:

Rendering of the new Geonetric building in New Bohemia, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Rendering of the new Geonetric building in New Bohemia, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

If all goes according to plan, the new facility should be ready in the Spring of 2014. This is an important move for Geonetric for a couple of reasons:
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What Makes Geonetric a Cool Place to Work?

Geonetric was named one of the Coolest Places to Work this morning by the Corridor Business Journal along with 23 other companies from the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor. Before each company accepted their award, a one-minute video played highlighting the culture of that company. The video below was played before Ben got up to accept the award on behalf of Geonetric.

The video does a great job highlighting was makes Geonetric cool. It could easily have gone longer than one minute. Especially when it listed the part about the employees being what really makes the company rock. Here are some other things that we didn’t have time to include in the video:

Sound like you’d fit right in? Check out our current job openings and browse the site to learn more about us. If you don’t see a job that matches your talents, send us your resume anyways! We’re always looking for bright, dedicated employees.

Why Non-Profits in Linn County, IA Should Apply for Operation Overnight

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Anne – Molly – Kevin R. – Kevin S. – Nicole

If you are a non-profit headquartered in Linn County, IA we encourage you to apply for Operation Overnight by July 1, 2013. During last year’s Operation Overnight, four non-profits received brand new websites built by Geonetric’s experienced Web designers, developers and marketers. This year, it could be you we help!

In case you need more incentive to apply, here’s a sneak peak at some of the people who would be working on your site and why they think having a new website would help you.

“Having a presence on the Web is one thing. Having a high quality presence on the Web is another. Our teams will strive once again to build an experience for your site visitors that is better than what you can get elsewhere… and for free!” – Kevin Reiter

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eHealth Symposium 2013: Creating, Innovating, Pushing Boundaries

Last week we held our 8th annual eHealth Symposium. Clients from all over the country came to Iowa to work together on pushing the boundaries of healthcare marketing. With a jam-packed agenda of topics ranging from the latest website design trends to agile marketing methods to newsjacking, clients left with brains full of new ideas, knowledge and relationships:

Clients also received a healthy dose of Iowa hospitality, which consists of overwhelming friendliness, and over-the-top food:

It helps that we hold the event at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, which is unlike any hotel you’d expect to find in Iowa:
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Q1 2013 Client Satisfaction Results

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know we’re relentless about measuring Client Satisfaction and posting it here.

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.
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How Can One Quarterly Survey Change A Deployment Process?

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We’ve mentioned that we take feedback seriously. When we ask clients to fill out our quarterly satisfaction survey, we’re looking for areas to improve.

Our last client satisfaction surveys identified a key area that needed focus: our software upgrade and deployment process. It was our lowest category – getting a 4.5 out of 6. Not bad – but not good enough for us.

So we’ve made some impressive improvements to our deployment process lately – including push button deployments. To put it simply: We’re building a lot of capabilities into how we deploy and upgrade VitalSite so that we can deliver value faster to you.

Now that we’ve used the new push-button deployments capability, we’re really excited by what we see.

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Continuing the Operation Overnight Mission with Mission of Hope

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It all started with a crazy mission… Operation Overnight: building new websites for local non-profits in a 24-hour time span. One of those sites we built during Operation Overnight benefited Mission of Hope. Imagine that, on a mission to help Mission.

Mission of Hope is a great organization that’s a Christ-centered ministry offering support to those in need – free meals, shelter, worship, a food pantry, jail ministry, clothing and support services. Working with the ladies from Mission of Hope was truly inspirational. Tina and her team are so passionate about the program that it was contagious! I thought it was just me, but when we finished the Operation Overnight mission and launched the site, every team member looked at each other and agreed we were not done. What else could we do?

There are many ways anyone could support Mission of Hope – give time, money, clothes, or food. We decided the most meaningful way would be to roll up our sleeves and REALLY get involved by volunteering to help serve lunch for their free noon meal program. And this is not a one-time thing. Geonetric committed to volunteer once a month going forward. We wanted to see Mission of Hope in action!

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