Startup Stories Lesson 2 –
How To Kickstart A Killer Project

May 30, 2011 - Comments

I know you guys are hungry for some more stories from 6Wunderkinder HQ, so here is some good Monday afternoon reading for you. This story is about a group of young people who found their balance and focus on the beautiful coast of the Baltic Sea.

Everyone knows that a vacation week helps people relax and get rid of working stress, but it’s also the perfect way to actually boost your productivity to the max! Welcome to the Wundercamp!

Since the release of Wunderlist on November 11th we were carried away by the success and all the work that came with a project like this. We developed, we updated, we improved and the time went by. All of a sudden, it was spring and we found ourselves not doing enough to realize Wunderkit. We pushed the deadline week by week, while we worked like crazy on our beloved task manager.

How can you organize the perfect shift to a new project while you’re still consumed with the current one? We found the perfect answer: place yourself in a new surrounding. New spaces provide room for new ideas.

Step 1: Get out of here

So we rented two Volkswagen mini buses, packed our bags, and loaded our equipment. As soon as the car drove off we all knew it was going to be an awesome trip. When you relocate the whole team to another place for one week, you immediately start to get to know each other on an individual level. I mean, who would have thought that our CTO actually has a great taste in music? Just kidding Sebastian ;)

You’ve probably heard that the German Autobahn has no speed limitation. It sounds totally crazy, and it actually is but we’re pretty good drivers. Unfortunately, Dennis accidentally grabbed a car with an integrated speed limitation of just 100 km/h (62 mph), so we traveled pretty safe and our grandmothers would have been happy. We had to offset the slow speed with loud, hardcore music and managed to survive the trip there.

Step 2: Lock yourself up

You are much more focused once you lock yourself in a house and turn of your mobile. I’m sure you are all fully aware of this but did you ever try it yourself? It not only helps you to get rid of all the distractions you normally have while working at the office, but it also opens up your creative side.

Your thoughts become clearer. After one or two days, you start questioning and dissecting your original idea and gradually people come up with one great idea after another. You can concentrate on complex issues, solve problems faster and you come up with novel solutions.

Step 3: Challenge your ideas

You may be super productive, create a thousand new ideas, great plans but in the end, it’s always difficult to tell whether or not your team can fully realize its next plan. That’s why I would encourage you to really try and challenge all of your ideas with your entire team. This is how we did it:

  1. During the day we split up the whole team into different units (marketing, development, corporate and product).
  2. We all worked independently on our tasks in 30-90 minute sessions.
  3. In the evening we all came back together, had dinner and presented our findings and ideas to the rest of the group.

In general, it’s very helpful to present your ideas to your whole team because even your intern can come up with a great business idea, if you give him or her the opportunity to speak. Your team is working towards a common goal and their minds are the greatest resource you have to work with.

Step 4: Keep the magic alive

In the end, the greatest challenge was keeping the magic alive once the road trip was over. As soon as you’re back in the office, the daily routine wants to drive you back to original tasks and duties. That’s ok, because there are always some things we all have to get done. But please try to break free from your daily structure from time to time.

Little methods can help: play Hacky Sack, shoot some zombies with your colleagues, change your workplace within the office every other day, or try to speak with someone from another department. Do you know how the financial plan looks for the next year? Why not ask your corporate finance guy? Asking questions will only broaden your understanding of the company, its practices and end goals.

So this is how we kickstarted our Wunderkit project and we believe that we’re on the right path. Collectively, do you have some original ideas? Why not take some days off with the team, brainstorm and challenge yourself outside an office setting. Several minutes, hours and days can make a huge difference for you and your team.

Want to see all of our Wundercamp photos? Have a look at our Facebook album.

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