Week 41: Taking time to reflect (ಠ_ಠ)

We examine our progress, give a talk at up.front.ug and receive news regarding office space. This week was packed!

Good day my friends, and welcome to the 41st edition of our weekly recap series about everything exciting at diesdas.digital. In case you’re new to this format: We are six people working on digital products and services in Berlin and each week we write about our progress, learnings and observations. This week was rather busy, so there’s lots to talk about.

Shall we? Let’s jump right in! ⛹️

All the people. Sharon & Lorenz & Max & Nicolás & Lars & yours truly.

Starting with the big one …

Taking time for self-reflection is absolutely vital!

I guess few people will disagree that it makes a lot of sense to look at your progress regularly, defining goals and making plans on how to reach them. And yet, with all the daily hustle, when all the projects and clients need attention and your mail inbox gets flooded, these meta-discussions often get postponed. We’ve heard ourselves say the following too often:

“Oh, a client wants to meet on Friday … I know we wanted to talk about stuff, but can we postpone? This is more urgent!”

We have long felt the need to block time, sit down and discuss about important topics concerning the company, but had to re-schedule many times. This Friday there was no turning back though.

And so at 9am we gathered in a meeting room and pulled up a list of questions everyone had prepared, grouped into different topics, such as: transparency, collaboration, finances, goals, communication, workflow.

Lorenz is skeptical of whatever idea I was presenting.

Some of these questions were rhetorical, merely meant to get everyone’s confirmation, others could have filled the whole day. Here’s a taste:

Where do we see the company in 1/2/5 years?
How do we win new clients / projects effectively?
Is everyone happy with their current role?
What kind of financial buffer is reasonable and how do we build it up?
What do we do with our website? 
How do we establish a culture of listening and giving honest feedback?
Should we have transparent salaries?
How can we free up time to learn new things?
Why should clients hire us instead of others?
Should we do time-tracking?

All in all we had about 50 questions to cover and it took us 11 hours of very intense discussing to go through them all, including heated debates 🤓, occasional shouting 😫, intense chin stroking 🤔 and lots of laughter 😅.

Lars trying to make a point while Max clearly doesn’t care. 🙃

When emerging from the meeting room in the evening we had a much clearer picture of where we want to go, which goals we want to pursue and how to manage the upcoming challenges—with many actionable items which we will start implementing as early as next week.

In hindsight I find it amazing how fruitful most of our discussions were … sure, sometimes it is frustrating to present an idea you strongly believe in, only to then realize that the others aren’t on board with it. But most of the time we were very much in agreement and taking in all the different viewpoints led to much better decisions than each of us could have made on their own. Although definitely exhausting (my voice is super croaky now), this full day also showed that we work very well as a team and while having different opinions on specific issues, we are very much in agreement about the bigger picture.

We will establish this type of introspective meeting regularly, because the danger of operating in headless chicken mode is just way too real, when we don’t take time to reflect, share individual observations and align our opinions. Acting in unison is the only way forward.

After 10 hours we had to move the discussion to couches.

Still here? Awesome! Because surprise: we have an office!

In the last blog post we talked extensively about the hunt for office space and it looks like the search might already be over: On Wednesday, to our immense relief, we received the contract for the office in Berlin/Kreuzberg. So from January/February on we shall occupy this beautiful space:

The vast emptiness of space.

Obviously those 250sqm will have to get furnished before moving in. Which is why Lars spent a good chunk of the week getting offers for tables, shelves, lamps … all the stuff one needs from the start. He also approached Vitra, Hay and the likes in an attempt to get all the equipment sponsored (in exchange for many beautiful photos in upcoming blog posts), but unsurprisingly all companies declined. Oh well, it was worth a try. I guess we’re just not influential enough. 😅

One more thing though: The office is obviously way too spacious for our small team alone, so we are considering to rent out a handful of desks to likeminded people for a reasonable price. There’ll be an official announcement at a later time, but if you already know that you’ll need a desk in the heart of Kreuzberg next year, you’re welcome to reserve a seat now (with no binding obligation at this point, obviously). Get in touch via mail, tweet, instagram, messenger or simply call us! 😊

Lars is done for the day.

Call for freelancers!

Another quick request that might be clarified at a later date: We are in the process of setting up two bigger projects and we might need your help with branding, interaction design and development.

[For the developers: We are not super sure about the respective tech stacks yet, but one project might be a single-page-application + universal javascript + api-driven node/react, while we intend to build the other one using Craft CMS, as its focus is more on editorial content. None of this is set in stone though.]

So if you’re currently freelancing and you can imagine working with us sometime in the future, we’d be happy to hear from you! It’d be great to always have a few people in mind, just in case all these projects actually happen. 👋

That being said though: If we learned one thing this year, it’s that you can’t count on projects without a signed contract. So although we might always seem busy, we’re by no means completely booked out. So if you need help, want to team up or just want to pass something on: we’re very much listening! Let’s get stuff done together! 👀

Hi there!

Our talk at up.front.ug: “It never turns out the way you expect”!

On Tuesday I gave a talk at up.front.ug about some of the things we learned this year! Lots of familiar faces showed up and the feedback was very positive, so thanks for that! We had a really good time and will attend regularly from now on! There is a recording of the talk and it will go online sometime soon—follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat to get notified!

Art. Obviously.

Anything else? Sure!

  • Remember when we were in Zurich quite some time ago, for a pitch? We won that project, cleared all the legal hurdles and will start work on it next week. This should keep some of us busy for a few months and we’re rather psyched about the large scope and creative freedom. 👻
  • Also the website / online-shop we are building with the TypeMates went into private beta this week, so we’re looking forward to refine the product with feedback from the test group. 🙌
  • Last, but not least we decided to open up this series of blog posts to more authors, so expect to see more entries from my colleagues in the future. Same time, same place, different points of view! It’d be a really good time to subscribe now. ✍️ 🙃

As you can see we had quite an intense week with many exciting developments. Exactly how it should be—full steam ahead! 🚂

Lars is clearly up to no good.

And that’s it, we’re done here for this week! If you liked this post, consider giving us a thumbs-up by pressing the little heart below; we’d very much appreciate it. 😇 As always we also welcome any feedback or questions you might have!

Take care, enjoy the lovely autumn weather and see you next week! 💚
Your friends at diesdas.digital!

Lovely autumn weather right there! What’s not to like? 😅