31st July 2017 - Session Notes [example]

NOTE: This example is based on a real session - only names were removed (replaced with […]).

Who attended?

Attended (11): […]

Missed it this time (1): […].

Individual-Driven Dilemma (aka IDD) Notes

IDD by: […]

Topic: “Team working hours - how to measure productivity/efficiency and working hours” and “Crisis management and Sense of urgency”.

Document shared: here.

Notes (no particular order):
Captured by: […].

  • Consider figuring out the must/nice-to-have/maybes (70%-25%-5%) and reach alignment with management.
  • If you have 30% of your time spent on maintenance, plan accordingly. Maybe make it explicit to management that this is the case now, and your thoughts (after talking with your team) on how to reduce that going forward.
  • If the team is always failing to meet the sprint goals, think about the length of the sprint or how you prioritize the task in it. Constant failure will demoralize the team.
  • Are you upset that people didn’t stay during crisis mode and you still have some resentment for it? Did you open it up during 1:1s with the relevant people?
  • As a startup of 3-4 developers running together for ~3 years, maybe it’s time to open it up with the team and discuss where the team wants to go going forward. How can the team improve collaboration, setting clearer expectations, owning the system and handling crisis. Maybe an off-site can help here, to switch atmosphere and have an open discussion. Consider paying someone external to guide the conversation and bring the pains to the surface.
  • During crisis, try to avoid passive-aggressive and keep the conversation extremely explicit, e.g. “We are in crisis mode now, I need you to stick around and help me fix the problem. We cannot go home until it’s fixed.” or “I understand you need to go home, I expect you to come back afterwards or connect remotely to help us fix the problem”.
  • When there are 3 developers, ownership should be global as there is almost no room for breaking it to modules. Talk about it with the team, hear what they think about it and how the team can improve on that.
  • Consider asking in your 1:1s: “What do you need from me to be more effective? What is not working well? How can I fix it? How can you fix it?”
  • Start documenting your observations, focusing on facts instead of emotions.
  • You should think of how to help people plan their time better: breaking tasks to hours instead of days, using 5-6h as a day of work (so a task of 9 hours is actually 2 days of work).

Personal Round-Table Notes

What keeps you awake at night? (i.e. pains from the last 2-3w that will keep you busy in the next 1-2m)
  • […]: (1) Our CEO is the first one to spot problems, thinking of how to improve our monitoring/alerts to catch it before he does (2) We have 2 Senior Engineers who hate each other. Both acting professionally but it’s not healthy, thinking about how to deal with it.
  • […]: (1) Dealing with 2 Senior Engineers who cannot tolerate each other and impact the team. (2) How do I improve my estimation process and the visibility I set within the company as different teams need clear Due Date for dependencies. (3) Thinking of my own career - am I in the right position at […]? Is it good for me? For the company?
  • […]: (1) My job is not well-defined within […], which is currently great as I really do enjoy what I do. That being said, is that good for my career in […] or later on in a different company? (2) I’m helping a team that is currently in “war time” and trying my best to help them get through it.
  • […]: (1) Reduce my direct reports from 9 to 4 (2) Thinking how can I help the company scale for 3X business growth - mostly around how to automate various parts of the process to avoid the need to hire people in order to deal with growth.
  • […]: Figuring out how to split responsibilities between our VP R&D and myself (CTO). Looks better now, but still a challenge going forward.
  • […]: (1) Figure out if we want to move to Kanban or change the way we use sprints. (2) How to improve planning and help my teammates be more effective.
  • […]: (1) We still don’t have a product in the market, I’m concerned we’re moving too slowly here (2) We’re working on 2 products in parallel, not sure this is effective for us.
  • […]: (1) How to get the culture right when the product is in the US and engineering is in IL. (2) Finding a CTO.
  • […]: Had to deal with firing people. It was really hard mentally, but also was amazed to learn how strong people are and appreciate the group leader who had to fire most of his team.

Next session

[…] will take the next IDD, focusing around “How to make engineers own their systems”.
The group will meet at […]’s office.