Sharpen the axe.
Nov 10, 2022
Like most good organizations, especially those in the space of custom software development for customers, we think we are really really good and are definitely the Google of IT service companies. But, perhaps there is a teeny tiny scope for improvement.
On a serious note, we are quite proud of the team and the work we have done to date. As well as the practices we have put in place. However, there is a lot to improve, as our goal is simply to have the best software development practices in the world while having a completely kindness-driven culture.
There are 2 areas of focus for Techwondoe.
Quality of work we do (Engineering excellence)
Kindness driven development
We already have practices and guides in place for the team. However as we strive for continuous improvement and greatly value a collaborative approach, we have opened up avenues for inputs from the wider team. Similar to how we have a retro at the end of a sprint, we have started having a retro-like brainstorming session where we ask a small question and come up with ideas on how to improve. This usually focuses on 1 aspect of quality or 1 aspect of culture e.g how can we be more kind.
Here are a few examples of questions we have pondered over:
how do we improve our PRs?
should we use tools like git copilot or tabnine?
what is the component library that we standardize and why?
how do we give constructive feedback to each other?
how do we have more fun?
Since we are a completely remote team, we use online tools like retrotool.io. We run the session, discuss each suggestion and we then vote on them and make the top-voted ones our standard, until we need to improve them again.
Here is a brief summary of the first session we ran:
STA - 1: How do we improve remote meetings?
The team came up with a lot of good ideas and we then voted on them. Below are the ones that got the most votes and hence we have added them to our recommended/suggested (not mandatory) list of practices while attending and conducting remote meetings:
Be a minute early: In the spirit of kindness, don't make people wait. If we are 1 min late to a call that has 10 people, you have wasted 10 minutes.
Turn on the video: To try and mitigate the loss of the collaborative touch gained while working together in an office, we recommend turning on video on calls whenever possible. When you meet face to face, we make a personal connection and pick up on non-verbal cues. This helps build trust.
Always have an agenda and stick to it: We do tend to do bikeshedding at times. We should understand and prioritize the agenda, solve the problem and call it a success. This does not however mean that we can't have fun. This also means that we should make decisions based on priority and not the chaos of randomness.
Use screen sharing: Use the screen sharing tool to make yourself better understood and to keep focus on the discussion at hand.
Improve microphone: Low voice quality makes the meeting quite unproductive and people are always asking to repeat or come closer to the microphone. Get the right headphone and practice the correct distance between yourself and that.
Stick to allocated time: In fact, wrap up 2 mins early so people can join their next meeting 1 minute early if they have another meeting.
I hope that this makes our meetings a lot more productive and enjoyable for everyone. These would be our rules to abide by until we find the need to sharpen them further, likely due to the introduction of the metaverse.