Where did the idea for Voycoo come from?

Do you ever feel like you're getting nowhere, spinning your wheels?  I've been there.  But I've found a way to make progress toward what I want that’s quick, easy and kind of fun.  It's something I call Voycoo and I’ll get to why I named it that in a bit.  But first I'm like to describe how Voycoo came to be and how I use it to change my life. 


About a year ago I was talking to my friend Tharon.  Tharon is a software developer and knows I’m happiest when I’m exploring,working with friends, creating and bringing good things into the world.  As we talked, Tharon told me about a software team he was working with that was using something called scrum.  He was really excited to be part of the team and see how fast they made progress.

He was so enthusiastic I looked into scrum and soon started reading everything I could about it.  I read works by Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, I studied the Agile Manifesto.  I soon became an advocate and certified Scrum Master.

The thing about Scrum that amazes me is how it brings together the best experiences I’ve had in business.  Things like brainstorming, goal setting, collaboration, accountability with authority, cross functional teams, continuous improvement, and short time frames.  Scrum takes these concepts and others and rolls them into a neat, organized, framework.  A framework that’s easy to understand, explain and use.

So what’s scrum?

To me, scrum is continuous improvement on steroids.  It’s an ongoing cycle of creative collaboration.  It’s like sailing to a destination somewhere over the horizon.  Attempting to sail in  a straight line is pointless.  Currents push you off course, favorable winds quicken your pace, storms need to be avoided.  In sailing it’s totally natural to set a waypoint, move forward, check your bearings, then set a new waypoint.  The process is repeated over and over until you and your crew reach your destination.  

There are also parallels to sports because in scrum people play positions, follow rules, and take part in events.  But unlike a game, when the Sprint (work cycle) is done, we’ve made something that can be put to use right away.  Like a new software feature.

But there’s nothing that says scrum is just for software.  So why not use it for other things?  So I adapted scrum to run my business, my business of one.  Scrum has helped me achieve my goals in less time than ever before.  And seeing the constant progress I’m making boosted my motivation and resilience.  It’s the juice that keeps me going even when the going gets tough.

Back to Voycoo

So, Voycoo is a personal scrum board you can carry with you.  It’s easy to pull out and show people your goals and what you’re working on.  Because it’s in front of you it’s easy to weigh your options and find the best path foreword.  You can also share it with a boss, friend or spouse for their insights and to strengthen communications. 

Voycoo’s backlog board gives you a place to post ideas you can’t work on right now.  It also provides peace of mind, because you don’t have to worry about where that great idea went.  Voycoo even has a scorecard so you can track your progress and accomplishments.

Sometimes people ask me why Voycoo is a handwritten system rather than an app.  The simple answer is I like to find the best ways of doing things and science shows manual systems have measurable advantages.  For example, research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer shows that students who take notes longhand remembered more and have a deeper understanding of the subject.  We type much faster than we write, but the trade off when typing is a tenancy to just transcribe what the speaker is saying.  We don’t think.  Handwriting notes on the other hand promotes deeper thinking, improved understanding and retention.

A user of Voycoo told me that he puts things into an app, they kind of disappear.  With Voycoo he can see everything he’s working on all at once.  This is reassuring and allows him to discover new connections and insights.

Research by Robert Sapolsky also influenced my decision to go hand written.  In his research, Sapolsky showed that Dopamine plays a powerful role in stimulating the brain when we anticipate a reward.  Something as simple as tallying your daily accomplishments lights the brain up and plays a powerful role in motivating us.  So voycoo is handwritten on purpose.

So where did the name Voycoo come from?

I started out by creating a scrum board on my bedroom wall using tape and sticky notes, but it wasn’t portable.  So I created a smaller, folder type version for myself.  As I used it I kept thinking “this is so cool, it’s like I’m on this cool voyage and here’s my map”.  About this time I was trying out different names and then it hit me.  Cool-voyage…  Flip it around, mash it up: Voycoo.

So that’s where the idea for Voycoo came from and a peek at how I use it.  I’ll share more of my voyage in my next post.

Tom Damoth

Tom is passionate about turning dreams into reality. When he's not working on Voycoo, you'll find him hiking, taking photographs, or training for his annual 100-mile bicycle ride. Tom is the creator of Voycoo, a To-Do List with a twist.