10 Sep 2012
One of the great benefits of having awesome designers like Maya Zankoul on the Meedan team is that she makes beautiful things like this, which shows the global nature of the Meedan team:
Looking at this magnificent map gives us pause for thought on how Meedan's distributed team works and what we've learned from not only advocated for making the internet a better place for cross-cultural interaction, but from also practicing those values as we go about our work.
Meedan currently has 17 core team working across 5 continents (+ Hawaii, which isn't on a continent apparently) and a massive 13 time zones.
Here are some of the things we've learned over the years:
> Skype is a distributed team's best friend: Even if it can be extremely annoying at times, Skype is tremendously convenient and provides the veins through which Meedan's organizational lifeblood flows, whether via IM, project meetings or....
> Full weekly team calls are big investments, but help build cohesion and sense of community: Each week, on a Tuesday, Meedanis around the world gather on Skype for our team call. Limited to strictly one hour, each team member is given chance to contribute and general overviews of project progress are provided. For us, this really helps provide a sense of focus for the week ahead, and a chance to review the week passed.
> Distributed teams can still have a great team spirit: Though Meedanis are separated by timezones and oceans, we greatly enjoy working with one another. We have our own Skype "watercooler" for jokes, musings and rants, and we have a lively Meedan FM radio station, recent highlights of which include:
>> Korean pop from Hawaii-based design lead Chris Blow, with Psy's modern classic "Gangam Style". >> Electronic beats from Vancouver by way of New York-based code fiend James Andres. >> Brazilian protest songs posted by Salvador Drupal legend Caio Almeida, by Sérgio Sampaio. >> Lebanese rock via Maya Zankoul and Meen. >> And finally, via Meedan CEO Ed Bice, an American classic given an Arab makeover.
> There's no replacement for face-to-face contact time: Happily, the Meedan team has had increasing opportunities to gather in recent months, whether as a full team in Vancouver (and soon, Cairo) or with individuals travelling to work alongside one another. Regular contact time helps us sprint to achieve short-term goals and lay solid foundations with detailed future planning.
As the Meedan team continues to grow, the challenges for the distributed model are likely to grow, and as an organization we must be flexible to handle these new needs. We look forward to developing our experiment and sharing our lessons! Do let us know if you work as part of a distributed team and how you make it work for your organization.