My onboarding to the Business Development team has presented an opportunity to review some of our existing processes and consider them in light of our continued growth. Up until now we’ve had only a few business-primary team members-- @antoviaque, @braden, and @gabriel. This ‘meta-cell’, if it could be called that, has grown by two more people recently, myself and @douglas.
It might be a misnomer to call it a ‘meta-cell’ at this point. A lot of processes have been the domain of one person, and, not having to share tasks in the same way as traditional cells, members of this meta cell have typically been able to handle work and organize it in a way that only needs to cater to their own needs.
However as we grow we’re now having to share more of the tasks between each other and we find ourselves at a crossroads. The original vision of OpenCraft’s cell structure was that there would be a ‘complete OpenCraft’ in each cell-- each cell self-sufficient, as much as possible, with Xavier and Braden standing outside (if memory serves, Braden became CTO shortly before I left, and I left just before the first cell split). This already violated the idea somewhat, but it was not such a big deal.
However now that we have a team size big enough for us to be properly planning out sprints in this ‘meta-cell’, it begs the question of whether we should officially make it a cell, just of a different kind, or if some or all of its members should be distributed amount the existing cells in some way.
One wrinkle in this is that although we remain a mostly flat organization, the tie-breaking aspect of Xavier’s leadership position remains useful and so he probably shouldn’t be placed in ‘one cell’. However especially as it comes to business development or other tasks, it’s conceivable that there could be a ‘business development specialist’ in each cell, for instance. And perhaps even someone to handle invoicing for each cell.
But you doubtless notice the other problem there-- at this point we do not have two business development specialists and two billing specialists. There’s just one of each of us. @douglas’s addition to the team, helping us with improving our sales capabilities, is still being defined as we go.
This means that we could go ahead and make the ‘meta-cell’ now, with its own processes and procedures, but if we want to continue the paradigm of ‘each cell a mini-OpenCraft’ then we’d have to wait for further growth before we could fan out individuals to both cells.
The way I see it, we have three options:
- We go forward with the meta-cell becoming its own ‘tissue’, separate from developer ‘tissue’.
- We wait for a bit more growth and then find a way to integrate these meta-roles into the existing cells in such a way that each cell has its own specialists in this area.
- Something ‘in-between’ where we let the meta-cell be defined, but when we split it, we assign each meta-cell its own companion development cell.
Some factors for consideration:
- Part of the reason why the idea of each cell being self-sufficient is appealing is because it prevents divisions and encourages the flat structure we’ve come to enjoy. Meta-cells might have a feel of hierarchy when none is meant or may at the very least result in a feeling of ‘other’ rather than close collaboration.
- Meta members currently work on one-week sprints, which are more reactive to the people-oriented needs of interacting directly with clients. The original development sprints were one week long but were extended to two because of how frustrating it became to break some tasks down to one-week chunks (someone may have to confirm on that-- I think they were lengthened after I left). So neither sprint length is ‘best’ for both parties.
- I could be wrong about Xavier’s role being special and maybe we could make each cell completely self-contained. If that’s the case, since I have one foot still in Serenity, I call dibs on @antoviaque’s left half. :)
The most important thing I’d like out of this discussion is a sense of which direction we should go, and some ideas of how to resolve some of the challenges that the direction may present. It might be that, depending on our decision, we can’t act to carry out our vision today, but if we can get an idea of where we’re going, we can use that both to inform intermediary processes and hiring going forward.