Getting ready for Oktoberfest

Culture · Oct 2, 2013

No, not that Oktoberfest. While we’d love to be in Munich tapping that first barrel, we’ve got something far more satisfying to do. Yes, there’ll be some beer, but you won’t see any lederhosen at this party.

During the second week of October, we’ll replace with the new beta site. When we started in January, a launch date of October was, for a large company, simply unheard of. But that’s the beauty of B,HAG’s (big hairy audacious goals), and of course, an extremely talented team.

So how did we get here? Back in January, we had a core team based in our labs in Toronto and Vancouver and the plan was to make the lab a way of life for all team members. As we added more people, we began to accelerate our pace of delivery. By having the teams co-located, there was less back and forth, the team had greater clarity on what we had to deliver and this allowed them to move faster than ever.

The team loved the new approach and was fully embracing our lean principles. As we looked at what we were achieving, we decided to take the plunge by making beta our primary site well ahead of our original plans – and Oktoberfest was born.

As leaders our job was to clear: set the clear vision and remove any obstacles to let the team get the job done. In order to invoke this kind of trust with the rest of the company, we engaged our stakeholders from day-one and brought them along for the ride. They were in the lab with us sketching, collaborating, shaping priorities and seeing first-hand how we work. This close collaboration is making Oktoberfest that much smoother as there are no surprises and everyone’s ready for it.

Our approach is becoming infectious, and Oktoberfest is only the beginning. Other teams are asking how we’re delivering so much, so fast. It’s all about our lean philosophy and we have the good fortune to start teaching others how they can apply it to their work (engage stakeholders, release early and show results, keep the momentum, communicate always). This is not only great for the company, it’s fantastic for our customers as we constantly strive to deliver a better product.

We’ve learned a ton along the way and it’s not always been smooth sailing. Cross-country collaboration is harder than we all thought. While we didn’t get to the Battle Royale there have been some super spirited discussions. We had design teams located in Vancouver and Toronto that were both very passionate about their designs. Thankfully having such a strong team allowed us to work through all issues – their passion was about creating the best product we could, nothing personal. We added TV’s to each location to use for video chats, but they didn’t allow us to sketch ‘side by side’. In the end Trello and Skype chat rooms proved to be the most valuable as we could all see the progress and the decisions being made.

So stay tuned. As we continue down the path of lean, mean, and lighting fast, I look at the team members involved and am very proud and honoured to be a part of it. Next up, time to replace with the new site, to provide a truly integrated experience for our customers.

In the meantime, visit the new, and keep the feedback coming.


Authored by:
Tim Hassed
Tim Hassed
Former Director, Home Solutions