One of the things that attracts most people to working with (and for!) The Phuse is our process. Unlike a lot of design shops, we work in iterations. We deliver early and often and make sure that everyone feels involved in the process.
But an iterative process isn’t confined to design. It moves beyond that to encompass everything we do as a business.
Iterative development is a core component to everything we do as a business. It’s a mantra of sorts that we live by every day.
The iterative methodology may have started in mathematics and programming, but it has grown to cover all sorts of creative processes.
Whether the task is to get clients to focus on minimum viable products (MVPs) or constantly improving the design of our internal application PAM, we’ve always got things moving.
But in the last few weeks, we’ve actually been doing a lot of iterating on process. This is a little strange because now we’re iterating on something a little less tangible than design/development and results.
Let’s take a step back.
Small goals make iteration manageable
When we talk about iterations to people unfamiliar with our process, the easiest way to describe it that we are taking steps towards a final goal. Oftentimes these steps are very small and incremental. The idea is to get a feel for how people will interact with elements. As such, the most important part of iterating is communication not only internally with your team, but with the end users.
Most entrepreneurs think in big ideas and final goals, but we force people to think shorter. This isn’t to say big ideas aren’t good—they’re just as important to work towards—but setting small tangible goals and getting through them is important and saves everyone time and money.
How we iterate on process
Let’s put an example on the table. At some point during the life of The Phuse, I realized that we weren’t taking enough time to work on stuff for us. Not stuff for our clients – simply stuff that we wanted to work on as a team for our team.
It took me until our second redesign to actually figure out that I needed to set aside calendar days to get internal work done, too, just as if it were a client project. This is when “Random Hack Days” were born.
For the last few months we tried out Random Hack Days and discovered that in the two days we set aside at the end of each month we were able to get more done than we would have in the same amount of hours spread over a month. Everyone loved the idea of being able to focus on internal work, and not feel like they were pushing aside internal work to meet client deadlines.
We tried it out for a couple months, and it was an improvement from before (successful iteration #1)—but it still didn’t feel quite right.
Why? Well we only had 2 days a month, and a month is a long time to wait between tasks. Not to mention that if an urgent client question or bug came up in those two days, we had to put them off, which we never like to do.
So we iterated
We improved the process. Instead of doing scheduling internal work 2 days at the end of every month, we changed it to be a shorter amount of time more often. Now we do the Hack Days every Friday.
This means every Friday our team sets aside time during their morning or afternoon (their choice!) to not only do internal code audits and critique each others’ design, but also to work on the awesome internal projects we have going on.
We still end up putting in a couple hours for clients on those days, but setting aside time every week is something we think will improve how we do business with our clients, and more importantly will keep a consistency in our workflow to do stuff for ourselves.
Iterating on the Hack Days process made us more productive, gives our internal projects a faster turnaround time and makes our clients happy, too.
What are you going to iterate on next?
We’re constantly in a state of iteration with everything we do, and as a small business owner I think that’s something everyone should constantly be doing. Create something. Get feedback. Change it up. The more you do that, the more you’ll feel excited about the freshness of your work environment every day, and the more everyone else will be positive around you.
So – what are you going to iterate on this week?