What we learned in Budapest
b2b2dot0’s Executive Management team just concluded our second annual Management Retreat. We rented an apartment in Budapest for a week in order to celebrate our accomplishments, get a bunch of things done, and lay the groundwork for the upcoming year and beyond. Today’s blog post will share the highlights of our week together.
First of all, why Budapest?
It’s in Europe, and we are an International company. It would be cheaper than a week in Switzerland, the home of our European HQ. It is an interesting city (dubbed the Paris of the East) with a rich history and a bright future. Lastly, a friend of the family owns an apartment there that I would not hesitate for a moment to rent again.
As a backdrop for a week’s worth of work, it proved to be a wonderful place. While the weather inhospitably transitioned from late fall to early winter during our stay, Budapest still had plenty to offer. It is a safe and clean city that is easily navigable. Plenty of intellectually, emotionally and visually stimulating sights to bombard your senses and get your creative juices flowing. No problem finding great food to eat, coffee and sweets to indulge in and local beers to relax you. So much for the report from the Budapest Tourism Board :-)
Let’s get back to the core of why we were here…b2b2dot0’s business matters.
We reflected on our accomplishments
While 2009 isn’t quite over yet (we hope to have more good news to report shortly :-)), we took great pride in how we managed to grow our business over the past year.
- We started the year with one client in production and we’ll end the year with…at least…three.
- Our revenues grew by 10X and we’re now officially operationally profitable.
- We introduced scores of new features and improvements to our service and operations.
- We’ve initiated four partnerships that will help us deliver greater value to our clients and provide easier access to the market.
- We had a lot of fun, made some great new friendships, and never had a dull moment!
In summary, on all counts, it was an awesome second year of business for b2b2dot0!
We rolled up our sleeves
We took advantage of our time together to work on things that would benefit from our collocation for the week. Here is a photo of Adrian Zehnder and Joe Pryor doing a little bit of pair programming. They collaborated on some client work, new feature design and development and some geeky internal process improvements…like improving our test coverage and automation. At least that’s what they told me :-)
We completely overhauled how we go about managing and communicating our Product Backlog and Roadmap to our clients. We created a separate Central Desktop Workspace just for this purpose and are inviting all of our clients and partners to participate. In case you’re interested in the details, the following document serves as the workspace’s homepage. It should give you a sense of how serious we are about opening our kimono!
We visualized the future
The major theme of most of our discussions was “scalability”. We’re mentally and physically preparing ourselves for a banner 2010. Now that the economy is starting to revive, we’re projecting that we could reasonably expect to double our business next year and the plans are now in place to support that.
We reaffirmed the values that got us here…agility, honesty and an unwavering commitment to deliver real and measurable value to our clients and their customers…and the role they will play as we grow.
We played out different financing strategies, hiring scenarios and we even talked about the direction that our product strategy should take once we’ve delivered what’s on our current backlog.
While it was fun talking about the future, and we know that it will be here before we know it, we resolved to stay firmly focused on the present…because that’s how we got here in the first place :-)
I think we met our objectives.
We celebrated. We worked. We planned.
We leave Budapest a little fatter (at least I do), a little smarter, and a little more enriched by it’s architecture, history and customs.
Being in a foreign land with a different culture, indecipherable language and an inflated currency took us out of our comfort zones for the week. But the skills required to survive, and thrive, in that environment are 100% analogous to the ones we exercise on a daily basis while running b2b2dot0.
While all in all it was a great week, I think we are all in agreement that it will be awesome to get back home to our loved ones and sleep in our own beds. :-)
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