IdeaScale

IdeaScale is a crowd sourcing platform that allows organizations to identify innovative ideas. Their first big customer was The White House in 2009.

I joined IdeaScale as their first and only Product Manager. I managed a four person product and design team and worked closely with their chief architect and scrum master to kick off each project, determine project scope, and prioritize initiatives each month and every two week sprint. I also worked cross functionally to promote transparency about product strategy and to ensure every new feature or product launched smoothly from beginning to end.

Projects I'm most proud of:

  1. Building out our Product and Engineering team while standardizing development processes. When I joined IdeaScale, builds were happening almost daily and there was little to no QA processes. Sprints were not planned and developers didn't know how to prioritize because there was no prioritization. Additionally, there was no escalation process for bugs and other urgent tickets. I worked with the CEO, our head of accounts, and our chief architect to create processes for all of these issues. The impact has been significant. Communication has improved, the quality of the product has improved, and our ability to meet target deadlines has improved.
     
  2. Bringing all CSS work in houseIdeaScale recently decided to bring all CSS customization in house because we're growing and we can't account for every customer's unique CSS customization as we push new code to the code base (things would break). I worked cross functionally to set new expectations for customers and to establish standard brand guidelines for the company as we move forward.
     
  3. Making roles and responsibilities clearer in the company. When a company is small it's common for people's roles to be very fluid. You sit across from people so it's easy to communicate on a regular basis. When I joined IdeaScale as their first Product Manager, I worked with other team leads to redefine the role of each department and each person so we could work more efficiently together.

Here is a site I designed for the National Institute of Health, one of our public IdeaScale communities.

Below is one of my designs.

Things I've Learned:

  • If you're the calm and thoughtful in the storm, people will trust you and they'll see you as a leader.
  • Involve your developers from the very start.
  • Keep meetings short and fun.
  • You are not a superhero so don't think you can avoid sleep or do everything perfectly.
  • Often times, problems are symptoms of a larger issue. Plugging the leak won't do it. You have to find the source of that leak.