Interapt What Louisville Can Learn from Boulder, CO, and Pivotal Labs

This past week the Interapt team visited Boulder, CO to observe how that city is embracing the newer trends and culture of the software development community, specifically in the Boulder offices of Pivotal Labs, a software development company headquartered in San Francisco that specializes in agile development methodology.  There’s a lot that Louisville can learn from Boulder, not only from a tech community development standpoint, but also in how they form the overall community as well.

Like most agile software companies, Pivotal’s work environment was very different from a traditional office space.  Even though their development process focuses on speed and agility, the atmosphere was surprisingly very laid back. The building also contained several commodities such as showers, a kitchen, and a game area. By using these elements to create a more comfortable place to work, employees enjoy coming to work, and therefore produce higher-quality work. Having different areas where the team can take a break and have some fun also helps them return to each project with fresh eyes.

Although the environment is relaxed, the company does have set rules in order to create a level of focus for their team. Everyone is scheduled come in at the same time and take part in an office wide meeting to briefly discuss each person’s tasks for the day. This provides a chance for other members to better learn how the whole company is working, while also holding individual teams and people accountable for their contributions.

Developers are even paired up when working on code, forming a check-and-balance system that not only minimizes time spent working on code that doesn’t function, but helps all team members learn different functions of a project.  In the same way that an open workspace fosters collaboration, paired software development usually results in better, more durable, and more agile code.

For any programming development or workplace to maintain a high level of productivity, it must also pursue the latest in workplace technology, and implement it whenever possible. An example of comfort hardware is using standup desks to improve a person’s alertness and overall efficiency at work.  Overall Pivotal determines what makes each individual developer feel comfortable, be that a specific mouse or keyboard with a unique design, and offers that along with rising desks or stools if, as an example, one developer in a pair wants to stand and the other prefers to sit.  On the computing side, updated hardware is necessary so the company can stay relevant and prominent in the tech industry. If not, clients will look to other businesses that are more on the cutting-edge.

Boulder itself also influences the working environment; companies in every industry focus on newer and best-practices that keep their software up-to-date, and the community provides programmers and the community at-large several code schools where future programmers can immerse themselves in a development environment that focuses on best practices.

All of these practices focus on connection, interaction, and growth. A business connected with each of their departments can better focus on their goals and build upon past experiences. Instead of a pool of jobs, Boulder is a working community that functions as a whole to achieve its mission. Having a team that interacts more with each other and strives in unison towards a common goal will inevitably lead to better results, and ultimately better and more sustainable company growth.

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