I had a really good time at the Ottawa Web Weekend (OWW). When I first signed up I was very intrigued by the concept, having a prototype in 28 hours. I really liked the vibe of some of the Camps that I had attended in the past. DemoCamp, CaseCamp, BarCamp. My expectations was that the OWW would have a similar vibe.I was looking forward to meeting new people and facing the challenge ahead.
4 hours to pitch, debate, vote and end up with one idea. Was that really possible? The answer is yes. All the ideas were really great, they were all unique, filled a need and did have a niche market associated with it. The success of this task due to the 30 or so people in the room all reaching consensus!!! The interesting part was that not one person dominated the conversation or had a hidden agenda. Everyone gave their input based on their expertise, why an idea was good/bad technically and from a customer point of view. It was very democratic and there was a basic framework to the weekend however there was enough flexibility so that the guidelines could be changed to streamline the process.
12 hours to pick a name, branding, requirements, use cases. This process usually takes many months is a real world scenario but we were able to achieve all of this in 12 hours!!!
There was no hierarchy and flexibility for people to change teams if they wished. There was no one to take care of the media so I moved over from business to take care of that. A java developer decided that he did not want to learn yet another programming language and opted to join the business team.
At the end of the weekend we had a working product so to speak. There were missing bits and the product needed to be integrated together, i.e. the UI with the actual use of the system. The business case was missing some financial information.
Everyone else was committed to continuing to work on this project. It was suggested that we meet before the long weekend in order to not loose momentum. Well that’s when all the schedule conflicts came to play. is it possible to get everyone in the same room again? Probably not but thanks to technology that is not necessarily the only way for a team to work together.
We do have a wiki that we used for the weekend to share information. So we can continue to use this to share our ideas and have a combination of Skype conference calls and in person meetings to get this web application or product off the ground.
Did we succeed? Does extreme collaboration work? Yes, I certainly think so. I will provide you with periodic updates on this Social Experiment.