Atlassian developers have started to blog about their ShipIt Day projects. Last week, ShipIt VI took place; it’s a semi-regular “open coding” day wherein the developers can work on whatever pet project they’re interested in. The VI designation is a pretty good indicator that it’s been going on for some time.
This time around, I decided the Marketing team should participate. That meant we had to translate the tasks developers normally do into tasks that non-coding types can accomplish. As far as criteria goes, I said that the main criteria is that the project should (1) be marketing-related and (2) helps Atlassian. Bonus points for doing something that helps customers! But that was vague. So I tried to define it further as follows:

Marketing projects should fall along these lines:

  • Generate leads
  • Generate buzz
  • Help customers and evaluators
  • Build brand

What I wanted most was for the marketing team to let go of their usual daily tasks and take a chance on something they’ve always wanted to try, something new, or on a task that would typically fall outside of their normal responsibilities. On an internal blog, I wrote:

This is an experiment. Maybe we don’t get it right, or we only get it 50% right, but it will evolve. I’m not worried about failure as much as I am about failing without learning from our mistakes.

For my part, I teamed up with Stewart on a project (some developers here do solo projects, others do team coding on one project) to develop a presentation about the growth of wikipatterns.com (he’ll blog about it more). Laurel worked on a project that Steve had suggested: interviewing other Atlassians (and publishing the interviews) as a way of telling more people about who works here. Zach, who manages our website, rolled up his sleeves to create a Confluence plugin, and Digant helped further clarify and promote our sponsorships for JUGs.
So, what did I learn from this experience?

  • We should spend more time on so-called pet projects; I found it helped me tap into my right-brain thinking more and gave me new ideas for other projects
  • While Stewart and I thought we knew exactly what we were in for in producing this presentation and video, we discovered that it would have been good to do a little bit more research on the project before starting!
  • Even if the suffle didn’t rise as hoped, we learned a lot about doing it right the next time.

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