Brigade Day Breakout: Project Sustainability

In this Brigade Day session, we explored and discussed what barriers we’ve seen derail projects’ long-term sustainability (the pink notes) and what patterns/interventions we’ve seen or believe could help address them (the orange notes). We built upon the premise that even after a project ceases to be materially relevant, there is still inherent and essential value in it being available at least as prior art for future projects to study and build upon.

To start, we identified several broad classifications for projects in terms of how the connect with the world:

  • Passive-informative projects transform some static source of data into a more informative form (e.g. an interactive visualization of a city’s annual budget)
  • Active-informative projects transform some living source of data into a more informative form (e.g. a 311 dashboard)
  • Collector-distributor projects collect data on their own to help distribute it in a more useful way (e.g. a resource map)
  • Process-adapter projects create improved connections between users and processes they need to participate in (e.g. CourtBot)
  • Process-operator projects are built to assist directly in the administration of a process

Each of these classifications determines which set of challenges/solutions are relevant to a project, with plenty of overlap between them. These were positioned out as horizontal tracks on our wall with three project lifecycle milestones marked: Inception, Launch, and The Next Decade

Initially the aim was to align the notes both with the phase and class of project they were relevant too, but the wide overlap across classes for most items made that impractical. They ended up only really being aligned by phase and then clustered by similarity:

Inception Phase

Launch Phase

The Future Phase