The annual Ushahidi team retreat took in place in Miami over Easter weekend in April 2011. It was a powerful event with all the members of the Ushahidi core teams present (with the exception of the iHub) staying in one house, meeting with facilitators, recapping the events over the last year and planning events that could take place over the next 12 months.
The outcome was about looking outwards while fixing inwards, and through discussion forums, and shared housekeeping tasks, achievements included:
- Translating targets into achievable milestones and see how they mesh with the various arms- Core, SwiftRiver, Mobile, iHub, Crowdmap – so that if this was a relay race, a visual of where passing the baton fits into the race.
- A better understanding of the products and how they fit across platforms.
- Realignment of the structures of the various teams to improve on product quality.
- Evaluation of the performance of team members and a framework was developed for future evaluations.
- First steps to develop frameworks for future Ushahidi project and community participation.
- Affirmation of achievements in the last year by both internal and external partners. This included a demonstration of the Liberia project, which is very unique in terms of the challenges faced in deploying crowd-sourced platforms in Liberia, which are different from other African situations.
- A chance to hear and respond to various queries of team members around the world, and appreciate the challenges they face in the countries they live.
- A better understanding of the tools the enable internal working & virtual collaboration across nine time zones (soon to be 16).
- Introduction of new team members (including myself), and immediate bonds were formed that will be vital for collaboration over the next few months. I also learnt to appreciate the sacrifice of time that team members make by frequent travels around the world, and that the “Up in the air” lifestyle is not as glamorous as it looks from the outside.
Finally, what was refreshing was that, in this this 3-year old company, there was the willingness to break down structures and tear up established models in recognition that the next three years may be radically different. Plus, in all this, there was fun as people got crowned with, among other titles, ‘Governors’, ‘Dictator’, ‘Mr. Goosebumps’, ‘Director of SWAG’, and ‘Director of Insanity’!