Sometime in the spring of this year, the &yet team caravanned down to the lovely southeastern Washington outpost of Walla Walla for a day of team reflection, hanging out, and planning. It was a beautiful day and we took advantage by wandering around the Whitman College campus and talking about what we like about the team and ways to improve the team.
It's now months later, and I was to have followed up long ago with a summary of actions we can take to be more awesome. I kept putting it off (not awesome) and recently got called out (awesome). Get with it Zanol.
I had a chat with Adam Baldwin about where we're at today compared to what we got out of the team day. There are a few items that came out of that day, and, shockingly enough, we've been working on those without specific prompting to "follow up on team day."
The part of me that started his career in a big corporate "hey-we-care-about-all-the-things-you-say-and-here's-metrics-you-can-look-at-so-you-don't-give-management-a-bad-review" environment feels pretty good about the fact that things just happen here. Seriously. Incredible.
The things we found to be the biggest takeaways from that day, per team feedback were:
Do better QA!
Be good to each other, always!
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
We have implemented many code quality controls, both technical (unit testing, linting) and process oriented (pull requests, etc) and developers are embracing them. This is fantastic and we will only continue to improve. And let's not forget the &! team, who've been making sure we always have quality code in production. Every day there are continual improvements in code quality, I can speak from experience: I've recently started contributing to &! and there are checks in place that make sure what goes into our company's product is worthy of carrying the &yet name.
I see a lot of support of each other within our team, even from our folks that aren't in our main office in Richland, WA. I have no doubt this will continue. This group is the single most supportive team I've ever worked with. I don't think I'd be alone in saying we're a second family to each other. <3
Adam Brault and Henrik Joreteg recently laid out a specific shipping plan for version 2.0 of our team collaboration tool AndBang (&!) and the company as a whole. I think that's a big piece of what folks were looking for when they called communication out as an area that's important to them.
We also started the "email the team" accountability when you're going to be somewhere other than your regular workplace at your regular time. It's all about expectations: we expect that our teammates are going to be there for us... unless they let us know, in which case we expect they're taking care of something else important in their lives. I can't impress enough how crucial it is to the team that all of us have time to take care of ourselves/our families. Paramount, yo.
There's officially 18 of us. It's unreasonable to keep everyone on the same page, all day, everyday. So, that isn't our goal. Our goal is to keep everyone abreast of what's going on with the team in general and talk about things on the horizon pertinent to the whole team as much as we can. We've got our weekly scrum on Mondays. We've got Ginger, where we not only post what we did that day, but also semi-major announcements and discussions regularly. These are the tools we've found to be useful, and in my mind they're that improvement we were looking for in communication.
Communication is something that can always be worked on. It's very easy (and important!) to focus on the work and everyday happenings and leave the distribution of new information till later or till someone asks. Here's what this team expects: if you think something should be communicated to the whole team that hasn't been, you are accountable for finding out why it hasn't been. Sometimes "it" should be communicated, sometimes it shouldn't. If we all take personal responsibility for us all being in the loop, we're being the kind of team we want to be.
As it turns out, we've already been doing the things we said we needed to do; without prompting. There's a couple new folks, and time has marched on, so I'm sure things will continue to change and adapt to the needs of our team.
The one core thing that I know will never change though, is that each and every one of the people on this team want this to be, and will continue to make it, the best team ever.
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