Our Codeyard Theme: Create your own Intranet Software

Today is my first productive Codeyard day. Codeyard is our new all in one Atlassian solution and will hopefully become as successful as our Linchpin intranet solution based on Confluence. It offers the full Atlassian stack (HipChat, Confluence, JIRA, Bitbucket, Bamboo) including all required professional services (organizational and cultural coaching, consulting, installation, configuration, …) at a guaranteed fixed price.

It is a cross team, cross functional task to get such a big solution going in our company. Do you know these situations? You basically need almost all employees (or at least the opinion leaders) in one room, which is nearly impossible.

We were lucky this time as some employees had just started working on the solution. They did not care about vision, strategy, marketing, market feedback and such. They just got going and incorporated that on the run. A technical consultant, Oliver, suddenly started to cold call contacts and reactivate old consulting gigs to ask if the full Atlassian stack wasn’t something they wanted to reassess. He was doing sales in its purest form.

Two others hacked a first version of the deployment platform with Puppet (config management tool) including an integration with a cloud hosting provider and laid out the foundation of a possible infrastructure in the future.

Some other employees created a first version of a visualization of Codeyard for sales pitches – a developer, who used to do design in a former live.

All of this happened without any manager approving any budget. It occurred without a resource management allocating time of the employees to this endeavour.

From my point of view as the CEO it was pure chaos. It is the thing, that the management of a lot of big corporations I am talking to fear the most. I hear them say: “Employees start deliberately wasting our money to create half-baked iterations of shit. We need to control and coordinate their actions.”

Here are some arguments to back this up: The visualization is done from scratch again. We did not publish the current version until now. Waste? The deployment platform does not work yet. We just added a set of additional developers to make it work. Was the work so far wasted? We had a couple of hot leads. Most of them have not yet decided. Probably not wasted? But could the time be better invested?

The answer to all of this is: No! The whole thinking that traditional management engages in is largely flawed today. The big question is no longer whether we can “produce more efficiently”. Nowadays successes are all about effectiveness. Does Codeyard actually help? Can it differentiate from what other non-Atlassian ALM providers offer? Can we sell it? Do customers understand? Right now, I do not know the answers to this.

But what our team did was exactly what we needed in order to work on these questions. They created a lean canvas for Codeyard and tested on the hypothesis that was most crucial for the success of the business. They tested what we thought was most risky for our model. They took the decisions without getting management approval. They spent time and money. We even bought domain names for multiple thousand dollars.

I have to admit, that I was involved a bit. I know the idea behind Codeyard. I support it. I even recorded this video.

I believed that the people involved would produce results and would limit the inherent waste that occurs with iterative models. But only today I officially start working on the project.

In my eyes, the model of this work is notable in itself. One of our employees sent an internal message with a Doodle link, that basically said: “We have already accomplished some stuff individually. To get a common feeling of being one team, don’t we want to meet regularly and work side-by-side. It will help us synch. It will help us coordinate. And it will reserve distinct chunks of time to improve Codeyard consistently. And we do not have to pull people out of their ‘home team’ right now.” The doodle coordination worked just fine. So from now on, every Friday from 10am to 2pm I am working on Codeyard with a team of volunteer employees.

And there is a big difference to the usual weekly meetings which I often see in big corporations. Our time slot is for working, not for talking. Sure we do talk a lot as well. But not with everyone in the room. People pop in and out of the conversation at will.

I love this new way of nondeterministic management style, that I have mainly learned from Niels Pflaeging, Lars Vollmer and Gerhard Wohland. It’s working great for me (and our company).

But I still struggle with one thing. I still tend to think, I could do 5 things in 4 hours and actually only got this blog post done. That only took 45 minutes. Well in line with my expectation. Something else appeared. I wanted to additionally create demo content for the generated Atlassian tools in Codeyard. This is not too problematic in theory. But the question came up: “What is the overall topic for the demo content?”

The usual theme for new programming languages seems to be “build your own pet web shop”. So that was our first theme as well. We have now settled for a different theme: “We build our own intranet.”

The discussion to reach this situation took 2 hours. But it has some specific upsides. The obvious downside is, that “building an intranet” is way more complex than “building a pet shop”. The upsides are numerous: Every company needs a good intranet. In my “normal” life today everything is about awesome intranets. That makes it much easier for me to generate demo content for Codeyard as a by-product.

To make it a complete Codeyard demo use case, this intranet cannot come out of the box like Linchpin, but has to be deployed as a software via continuous deployment. Our agile demo project will have initiatives, themes, epics, issues and tasks. They will be around News, Meetings (Room planning, Resource management), Employees, Microblogs, Canteen menus and Company events.

If we should be able to deploy a complete Atlassian stack via Codeyard one day, you can blame me for the poor ingenuity. 😀

Let me finish this post by sharing this “unfinished” and “unpublished” visualization, that is being edited at this point:

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Yes, it’s German. New note to self: Get the word out internally about ‘English first’ (a German post about my personal tendency to do everything in English at first to make life easier for our U.S. customers).

Additional Information

Codeyard – General Information and Pricing
Linchpin intranet solution based on Confluence

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