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Cognition

Release the Devs

“At Happy Cog, process is not sacred.”

I wrote that in my very first Cognition article way way back in 2011. Everything at Happy Cog is changing as we speak. Next week, our Philly location moves to a shiny new office. We’ve added lots of new hires, but our passion for process remains consistent. We’re constantly revisiting the best way to do things. Our business and the technologies that support it move at a lightning pace. To remain competitive and effective, our process evolves in tandem.

Most recently, Happy Cog introduced a new team structure. This model is based around essentially breaking up what is now a 30-plus-person company into project teams: mini-companies, consisting of 5-6 people, each given permission to adapt “house process” in the best interest of the client and project at hand.

So Far, So Good

My project team (tentatively named “Team Unlimited Salad & Breadsticks”) kicked off our first project about a month ago. As a developer, I’m excited for the opportunity to be involved in a project from the get-go. Pre-project teams, I was welcomed and encouraged to contribute to early project phases such as Project Definition, UX, and Design, but for all intents and purposes, resourcing had me in code the majority of my day. I rarely sat in on stakeholder interviews or actively contributed to a Communication Brief.

With the change to project teams the volume of clients we’re monitoring decreases significantly. Before, I monitored all Happy Cog projects (8-12) from the sidelines as they made the way through initial project phases. Now, I’m heavily involved in a far more manageable 3-4 projects—the subset our team manages.

Bring Your Devs in Early

Being involved earlier in the project allows developers to be creative too. We’re well-versed in interaction, user interfaces, and accessibility. Developers aren’t just feasibility experts; we can brainstorm with the best of them. The more disciplines that are involved in brainstorming, the more diverse the ideas will be. Actively contributing to early phases, stepping away from the text editor, is a welcome change to my daily routine. Also, when introduced early in the process, a developer’s eye for how a concept will be implemented can be a welcomed constraint.

This new version of Happy Cog is really just getting started, so how this all fleshes out remains to be seen. I’ll check back in in a few months, let y’all know how things pan out. To be continued…

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