Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Campaign vs. Start-Up

After spending the past six months working in the Obama 2012 campaign's IT team, and returning to Boston, I've been thinking about the similarities between campaign IT and start-up IT.  Before moving to Chicago in April, most of my professional life has been in tech-focused, Boston-area start-ups.  And there are some real similarities.

An Incomplete List of Campaign/Start-Up Similarities:
  1. Your primary product has to be amazing.  Everything else has to be just-good-enough.  As a start-up or as a campaign, everyone knows you by their one window into the organization - like the OFA field campaign, or New Relic's performance monitoring service
  2. Everything that supports your operation - your systems and processes - should be just-good-enough-to-work.  In start-ups and campaigns, you don't have the time, money or staff to build a really beautiful process, or a really beautiful infrastructure.  That doesn't mean you can make something haphazard - you still have to contain your risks - but you can't spend too much time on evaluations, designs, redesigns, etc.
  3. Everyone contributes, everyone owns something (or many things).
  4. Your great idea is only great if you implement it.
  5. Your great critique is only useful if you provide a new solution.
  6. Tight budgets favor free software and services.
  7. Time is short - projects that aren't working get abandoned.

1 comment:

  1. The big *difference* is that a campaign has a definite end date. That frees you to run up a lot of tech debt that would otherwise be problematic in a startup.