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Jimdo - Pages to the People!

Thu

21

Jun

2012

Sprint Hard, Get Done, and Prove Your Father Wrong

 

We built the first versions of Jimdo working nights in an old farmhouse near the North Sea.

Looking back, those were incredibly productive times, because

  •     We were 120% focused on building software.
  •     We refused to compromise on functionality.
  •     We were capable of making each and every decision in minutes anytime of the day.
  •     Distractions simply were not a problem then.
  •     We built each component until it was finished, really and truly 100% complete.

My father always told us that in the future we would end up in an office, working regular office hours. Today we all know it's a bit true, but we try everything to prove him wrong as often as we can.

Sprints to the Rescue

After we moved to Hamburg and into our first office, we struggled with the transition a little. We were constantly on the lookout for ways to keep up the speed, the focus, and the flow we had in those first months.

We intuitively returned to an unorthodox style of working. We camped in the office (yes, with tents), which didn't work well because it annoyed the other people in our shared work space and the cleaning people kept waking us up. So we began going back to the farmhouse as often as we could, sometimes for a couple of days, sometimes for a couple of weeks. The formula was simple: Leave everything behind and escape to the countryside where there is nothing at all to do except work hard and relax in nature. Thus, the concept of the “sprint” was born. We noticed that if you go into a sprint with a goal of what you want to achieve, the magic just happens. People become uber-productive again, they stay up working until 3am without realizing it, and more importantly without even feeling tired.

Bigger Teams, Bigger Sprints

As the company grew, so did our sprints. They became bolder, longer, and even more exotic (at least for us). We rented a house on an island in the North Sea for one month with the entire development team to restructure a core part of our system. In those four weeks, we achieved more than we would have in four months at our office. We headed off to Denmark with teams of online marketers, country managers, and designers.  We took our team in San Francisco to Lake Tahoe and built the Pages Directory.


All the trips had two things in common: cool stuff was built and incredible teams were created.

Establishing a sprint culture in a growing company

We began to realize that sprints are at the core of our company, part of our mojo, and a source of the cool stuff we’ve built.

We wanted to share this with everyone who works at Jimdo -- not the knowledge of how great a sprint can be but really the feeling of getting stuff done in crazy time. As we know, if you make it easy for people to do stuff, things start happening -- like creating websites with Jimdo ;), so we rented a big house right next to the old farm where Jimdo was born and rigged it up like an awesome vacation rental. Several bedrooms, a big work room, a backyard with a barbeque, a woodstove, the works.

We even bought a van to make it easy to get there. Every team at Jimdo has the keys to the house and to the van, and can schedule a sprint whenever they need one. For training, for developing a new feature or concept, and for team-building in general.

We have had the house for about two months now and it has really started to take off. The last three weeks were fully booked and the next three are already scheduled. One small team launched the new German support center (http://hilfe.jimdo.com/), a team from Italy, UK, US and Poland kicked off the Jimdo Experts program for their countries, and the support team will go there for a training week. The possibilities are endless and shit gets done. Almost every week, one of us is at the Sprint House, sometimes only for one night -- just because Matthias, Fridtjof, and I enjoy it so much and don't want to miss it.

 

And because we're still trying to prove my father wrong.

Photos:

Top: Where it all started - The farmhouse in Cuxhaven, Germany. | 1. Rømø, Denmark, 2009. | 2. Cuxhaven, Germany, 2011. | 3. Lake Tahoe, USA, 2012.


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