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Building Better Together: The Power of Barn Raising in Product Development

June 14, 2023
June 14, 2023

In the world of product development, engineers face the exciting challenge of creating innovative and efficient solutions that address the needs of their users. To achieve this, they must constantly iterate and improve upon their designs. One effective approach to foster collaboration and spur iterative thinking is through the concept of "barn raises." Inspired by the traditional practice of community barn building, this collaborative model encourages engineers to work together, share knowledge, and iterate on their products. 

“It’s like a hackathon or bug bash, but with a cooler name, and lots of prizes,” explains Andy Ennamoroto, Director of Engineering at NinjaCat. “The goal of the barn raise is to focus on improving quality of life; not just for customers, but for those behind the scenes, like a developer, customer success manager, or someone in quality assurance. Basically, a successful barn raise helps anyone who could benefit from a focused effort on things that may never otherwise hit the list of priorities.”

Barn raises in product development can propel engineers towards enhanced creativity, problem-solving, and ultimately, the development of better products.

The Spirit of Collaboration

Barn raising harnesses the power of collective intelligence and collaboration. Just as communities would come together to construct a barn, engineers gather to collectively build upon their products. By bringing together a diverse range of skills, experiences, and perspectives, barn raising facilitates a fertile ground for brainstorming, idea generation, and problem-solving.

When engineers collaborate and bounce ideas off one another, they can discover new approaches, uncover blind spots, and identify potential improvements that may have otherwise been overlooked. The collective wisdom and expertise of the team lead to a broader understanding of the challenges at hand and a more comprehensive exploration of potential solutions.

Iteration as the Driving Force

At the heart of barn raising lies the iterative process. Engineers present their prototypes or concepts to the group, allowing their peers to examine, evaluate, and provide constructive feedback. This feedback loop serves as a catalyst for improvement. Each interaction and suggestion builds upon the original design, pushing the product closer to perfection.

Through barn raising, engineers can rapidly test and refine their ideas, incorporating feedback from multiple sources. This iterative approach allows for quick identification and rectification of design flaws or weaknesses, leading to more robust and refined products. The process is dynamic, adaptive, and continuously evolving, ensuring that the final outcome is a culmination of collective wisdom and lessons learned along the way.

Benefits of Barn Raising

Enhanced Creativity: Collaborating with other engineers stimulates creativity by exposing individuals to different perspectives and novel ideas. This diversity fosters the generation of unique solutions and encourages engineers to think outside the box.

Rapid Learning: By actively participating in barn raises, engineers have the opportunity to learn from their peers. They can gain insights into various techniques, methodologies, and problem-solving approaches, expanding their knowledge base and broadening their skill set.

Reduced Bias: Barn raising promotes a collaborative environment where no single person dominates the decision-making process. This diminishes individual biases and encourages objective evaluation, leading to better-informed design choices.

Efficient Problem-Solving: Through iterative cycles of feedback and refinement, engineers can quickly identify and address design issues, streamlining the product development process. This ultimately saves time, resources, and effort.

Building Stronger Teams: Barn raises strengthen team dynamics and camaraderie. By working together towards a common goal, engineers develop trust, respect, and a sense of shared ownership. These bonds contribute to a positive work culture and foster future collaborations.

In the realm of product development, barn raising provides a collaborative platform where engineers can leverage collective intelligence to iterate and improve their designs. By embracing this approach, engineering teams can tap into the benefits of enhanced creativity, rapid learning, reduced bias, efficient problem-solving, and strengthened teamwork.

NinjaCat’s Experience With Barn Raises

Our experience with barn raises at NinjaCat have yielded some exciting innovations and improvements to our products that would have otherwise been swallowed up by the daily to-do lists. In a short time frame, we’ve been able to identify, iterate, and implement small-scale solutions that have had a huge impact on both the front-end and back-end of our platform. 

Barn raises are now an integral part of our process for all the reasons detailed above, and based on this positive experience, we think it’s something every product development team should look into. 

Through barn raises, engineers can transform their product development process into a dynamic and iterative journey, producing solutions that meet the evolving needs of their users. As the saying goes, "Many hands make light work." Similarly, in the world of engineering, barn raising empowers engineers to collectively achieve remarkable results.

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