On January 4, 2013, we announced that Gittip is hiring. Exactly one year later, 20 participants in our open company gathered together in person for the first ever Gittip company retreat. One participant travelled from the Czech Republic, and another from Trinidad. The rest were from Canada and throughout the United States. Only seven were from the Pittsburgh area.
Row 1 (left to right): Christopher Clarke, P.J. Jimenez, Joe Esposito, Nik Markwell. Row 2: Zbyněk Winkler, Christy Leonardo, Carl Levinson, Bruce Adams, Luke Strickland. Row 3: Chad Whitacre, Jocelyn Graf, Lyndy Palmer, Sean Linsley. Row 4: Heidi Gardner, Oscar Sanchez, John Rubino. Not pictured: Pat Connolly, Aaron Lloyd, Angel Vagias, Kim Zick.
Meeting around a dining room table in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, the first item on our agenda was to review Gittip’s Mission and Vision Statements, and our Product Overview. Our Mission and Vision are broad statements of our reason for existing, and speak to a goal much larger than day-to-day operations:
Gittip’s mission is to redeem the economy.
We envision a future in which the economy is characterized by trust, collaboration, cooperation, sharing, openness, transparency, care for one another, inclusion, inspiration, purpose, generosity, patience, empathy, optimism, and love.
Our Product Overview became the document we spent the most time refining. It is incorporated into the 2014 redesign project plan that we’re now developing in the wake of the retreat.
We agreed to order these aspects of the website to reflect their level of importance: Giving, Profiles, Teams, and Communities. This led to a decision to prioritize our work together where all of our tasks are evaluated based on their relationship to Giving and the ease with which a participant is able to give, especially for the first time. This distillation and focus generated assent and enthusiasm among the team members present and helped us through more arduous tasks, like agreeing on a system for prioritizing our GitHub issues.
Saturday’s conversations gave way to hacking on Saturday night and throughout Sunday and into the following week. One team went through all 450+ issues in our issue tracker, prioritizing all of them according to the scheme we came up with together. Another team started thinking through the onboarding flow for new givers. A third team worked on the onboarding flow for new developers via Vagrant.
The most important work of the retreat, however, was in cementing relationships amongst the team. Here we succeeded mightily. Participants were reluctant to leave: by Wednesday we still had five folks hanging out and hacking!
Saturday’s sessions were video-taped and posted to YouTube. These videos don’t begin to capture the full collegial spirit of the retreat, yet we post them here in the interest of openness:
Next year’s retreat is scheduled for January 2-5, 2015.
Update: Here is a report on the finances for the retreat: