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Never underestimate the power of disciplined collaboration
In the 1 minute video above Richard Bergmann, COO of Blocket, explains how the company has reached its success in the world of online classifieds.
The company holds roughly 12 software programmers who are using extreme programming as their methodology when developing new features for their web site. The guiding principles for extreme programming alows the team of programmers to constantly developing web code in pairs and thus openly discuss their doubts and questions about the progress of a specific project.
There is one aspect of the way Bergmann and his crew of programmers which I find particularly inspiring: their use of index cards. When the team get together at one of their ‘planning games’ – sessions where the manager and programmers cooperate on developing a problem description and a time line for a specific project – they write ideas and steps forward on A5, old fashioned index cards. Throughout the process partcipants pin the cards on the wall. This way of working enables the whole group to see, literally in front of them, how the complete team is reflecting upon the process and ideas as they move forward.
When the idea process (the planning game) has been completed, the team will prioritise the ideas and task. This is where the manager takes a more managerial role than during the planning game. After all, the manager is the one who at the end of the day has to decide what will have to wait and what is in a hurry. Then pairs of programmers will pick tasks to do. A pair will pick a card and return to their computers, do the programming together and when the task has been completed, return to the wall and pin the index cards once again back at the wall – indicating whether the task needs further work or if it is all settled.