Project Management

I hear through the grapevine that the Dean campaign does welcome geek support, but, like any client, they’d like to get their current tech together and then imagine a bigger picture.

I’ll put on my consultant’s hat here, and predict with some confidence that the campaign’s priorities look something like this. I have no direct input, so All of the following is conjecture:

  1. Pull together the campaign’s existing systems, which are probably ad hoc and surely need to be optimized
  2. Consider the data flows they’ve got now and that they anticipate, and create a structure that grows with the campaign. You can bet the ideal structure will be a series of intranets, extranets and web apps.
  3. Tune the current effort until it runs like a Swiss watch, unlike most businesses and all political campaigns.

                          then the campaign can afford to dream:

  4. Brain storm and prioritize the exciting web apps that Dean’s Army of Geeks might implement.
  5. Assign a team to each web app, with hard but possible schedules, milestones and deliverables.
  6. Craft a networked mesh of citizens, fence straddlers, influencers, volunteers, commanders and SWAT Geeks, all knit together by a system of web communications that talks to the team and also to fax machines and citizen callers, Tupperware activists, bake sales and to volunteers handwriting letters from their PCs or fax machines.

Above all, like any enterprise, the Dean Campaign can only flourish in an ego-free zone. Helpers need to understand that just because geek volunteers have passion and a sliver of competence does not mean that we can push our pet technologies and agendas.

A sure-fire way to kill the spark that Dean has ignited is to drown the campaign under a Slashdot flood of good intentions.

Some tech Czar must emerge who has the respect of the campaign and the geek volunteers, with the background to pull together the solutions and opportunities that Dean’s Army of Geeks makes possible. That person needs to be the right blend of suit and geek, dreamer and hard-headed realist. Maybe the campaign’s already got that miracle worker, but probably not.

If you know that one-in-a-million leader, have him/her volunteer. If too busy, you know you’ve got the right person, so ask what anyone is doing for the next 16 months that’s more important. Re-tell the Cincinnatus story. Gag and tie the reluctant hero and drive non-stop to Vermont. You can work out the details later.

Update from Josh

On Thursday, June 12, 2003, at 12:08 AM, Josh Koenig wrote:

Just FYI — hack4dean is the hacker-facing element of the project; intended to lure in willing techies. Our citizen-facing elements will be americansfordean.com which is the meta-site, and fordean.net, which will be widely available domain suffixes (e.g. eastvillage.fordean.net) w/cheap server space and community tools that feed eachother top down and bottom up with RSS and other blog-like widgets.

This is the plan that emerged from out first IRC meeting. I’ve taken on the responsibility of keeping in touch with the “digirati” and making sure our efforts can dovetail when the time is right.

Cool.

Into the Chaordic Zone

Despite the need to manage the campaign so they operate in tech Nirvana, fine-tuned and smooth-running, chaos must be married to order so that the grassroots effort allows a thousand flowers to bloom. With Campaign Ops under control, grassroots geeks can do the unimaginable, like the Apache model, where each piece fits into a well-understood context. As long as the context is well communicated, the geek contributions can be useful campaign objects that work together as an ad hoc assemblage of passion and purpose.

Yeah. We could do that.

1:06:25 AM    

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