WooTrip 2014 – WordCamp San Francisco, WooCommerce Conf, and UserConf Oh My!

Golden Gate Bridge

The air is warm and the sun is shining as I'm writing this post on my last full day in San Francisco. I've had a wild ride the last sixteen days attending three conferences, meeting customers, and exploring San Francisco. While conferences and new cities are exciting it's not why we have the WooTrip. The best part of the WooTrip and the real value in it is meeting people that we work with everyday and learning to relate with each other. And that's pretty exciting.

Be Human

By far one of the best aspects of the WooTrip is developing a bond with a coworker you never met in person. When you don't have a bond with someone communicating with is structured, formal, and … boring. When you don't know anything about the person on the other end you might as well be talking to a robot. Meeting in person gives you the opportunity to learn a little bit more about them. Connect with them over something more than just WordPress.

  • I played NetRunner with Danny Santoro and now we have a nearly unlimited amount of Hackers references we can sling back and forth
  • I listened to Sean talk about the four hats he bought taking his total hat collection to 25
  • I talked to Remi about his 9-month old son (King) Louis and how fast he is growing up.

I spend the time talking to people about their passions because it makes them human. I don't want to work with a bunch of robots. I get a lot of enjoyment listening to Remi about how his kid is growing up, the new hats Sean purchased, and the new card games Danny just purchased. And to me that's invaluable.

Communication Gaps

Being a distributed company means we need to have exceptional communication skills. There isn't a water cooler where you can absorb new information. You have to have processes in place to share information. One of the things that's so great about meeting in person once a year is for that one period you do have a water cooler.

Some of questions that people asked really surprised me:

What do you do in your new role? Do you just rearrange Trello cards all day?

My new role puts me in charge of getting feedback from the community and planning the roadmap for WooCommerce. With WooCommerce being our flagship product at WooThemes you'd think that if someone has feedback that they should know who to reach out to right? Well at least one person didn't and that highlights a communication gap. With close to fourty-five people on the team we'll have to look into new ways to share information with everyone.

Innovate

Matty, head of product, championed our first every Ninjathon. We pitched ideas, picked the best, and then broke into small groups to work on these projects. The beauty of the Ninjathon was that anyone could pitch any idea. Someone on the WooCommerce team could pitch an improvement on the WooThemes.com site, someone in Accounts could pitch a new feature for Sensei.

We had some incredible ideas and what the teams were able to achieve in such a short period of time is really remarkable. I don't want to spoil the surprise but we have some nice UX features for first time WooCommerce users, new WooThemes.com functionality, and a new WooCommerce extension all of which are in the works.

Success

Being able to relate to each other even though we're thousands of miles apart, being able to work with someone on a different team, filling in the gaps, and having fun all at the same time. Sounds pretty awesome right?

If you work for a distributed company you need to have a trip where you meet in person at least once a year. It's fun, innovative, and the team becomes more efficient. Happy WooTripping!

Photo Credit: The Roaming Pint

3 thoughts on “WooTrip 2014 – WordCamp San Francisco, WooCommerce Conf, and UserConf Oh My!

  1. Great post Patrick, just one question, do you just rearrange Trello cards all day? 😉

  2. Great Post Patrick 🙂 it was the best trip ever !!!

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