I thought it would be interesting to illustrate the power of “shipping early and often” by making a simple graphic. I went ahead and created the below. Note: This post and the graphic below are also posted on the Team Salt Lake County project’s Tumblr.
As you can see our team was able to ship a product once a week. This feedback loop was very powerful and able to command the attention of persons far outside the direct reach or control of our county partners. This is not to diminish the power or capacity of our county partners but rather to illustrate just how high impact shipping can be. It’s a “real thing” and when people are able to see their conversations translated into functional, real-world tools in a matter of days, a change occurs. That change is valuable both as a cultural one (the notion that governments can begin to reflect inwardly and question age old practices and be willing to re-evaluate the status quo more broadly) and in terms of just turning heads.
When we ship frequently and successfully, we are able to gather buy in across any pre-existing political boundaries and, if moving fast enough, can often pre-empty existing political road blocks by simply beating other, slower moving governmental factors to “the punch” by executing at an accelerated rate. In this fashion, we can lead by doing and use the advantage to demonstrate how digital tools can be “here to help” and be seen as opportunities rather than threats to the “way things are currently done” in local government (and beyond).
I should note that when you are looking at the image this post has included, the meetings are effectively demonstrating a “lag” from the prior week. So, the first week we had 22 meetings because folks were excited we were in the County and because we had established a number of “hello, nice to meet you” meetings prior to arriving. But the in subsequent week, no one was interested in just meeting again, for the sake of meeting. This actually gave us the opportunity to execute a basic application that scraped PDF publications by the Court system and convert that into a Twilio text notification application. This would also lay the groundwork for future applications. Each subsequent application added momentum until, by the end of the 4th week, we were inundated in interest.