In H2 of 2017, at Opendoor we encountered a problem with came with a small threat: it could force us to shut down a market we operated in (low probability) but not nailing it might potentially disrupt or pause operations in all other states we were “live” in should it not be solved. It had to be a cross-functional effort between the brokerage, EPD*, and compliance teams to solve.
I stumbled upon the project largely because I think nobody else had said signed up for it 😬. The story of this project deserves a post in itself but the project ended up achieving its goal, against all odds. Given various circumstances including needing to staff up resourcing quickly, a hard problem, and a looming deadline, in classic Opendoor fashion we retro’d on why we thought the project had succeeded.
I think applies to any project whether it be for yourself, within a company, or even the early days of a startup. It reminded me a lot of how things were when all of us on the Polymail team were living together and doing YC in the summer of 2016.
- Clarity – helps align everyone and convince people to join. Simplify how you talk about what you’re doing.
- External Deadlines – force prioritization and a ship. (of course there’s caveats here)
- Enthusiasm – this sh*t is hard, be excited for it and find amazing people to work with.
- Tailwinds – always be able to answer the why now.
- People, people, people 💙
This one turned out to be one of my favourite special projects at Opendoor because of the people I got to work with and learn from, the ownership over the problem, the ability to have a meaningful impact, and learning one more pillar of business complexity that we have. Plus it gave me a chance to do what I love doing the most: managing the product and the operations.
The project also ended up having a much larger than our initially scoped impact as we, hi Tim, Visnu 👋🏾, built a brokerage specific transaction management product (Broker Admin), and sped our path to move to our own contract management software (HelloRito) at Opendoor.
*EPD – Engineering, Product Design