Leadership: Welcoming Change and Letting Go
February 14, 2018
At Stable Kernel, we have at least one squad for every department and more than one squad for bigger departments. Initially, a squad was a mini-culture within our company and our goal was for squad leaders to maintain cohesiveness while welcoming change. We formed our squads after we held our Year of Values. I was lucky enough to become the leader of Squad Dammit, one of our engineering squads.
Stable Kernel laid out some overarching company initiatives, and we were tasked with coming up with squad initiatives that we could all be excited about. Focusing on the value “We are client inspired,” we started the Sprint Life initiative. We started meeting every 2 weeks to demo our latest and greatest builds. It fostered a great sense of community, helping us keep our next build in the forefront of our minds to ensure we know what we are building and why we are building it. We gathered the whole squad together and invited designers and PMs from our projects to attend.
Looking back, it was the time of our lives, but even the best-laid plans are put to rest. That’s okay, we are still demo focused and Sprint Life lives on.
A typical sprint life meeting
Each meeting was an interactive demo of our latest work, spanning several projects. For each platform, a developer would bring build notes and practice their sprint demo in front of their project teammates and squadmates. We would allocate about 10 minutes per project to demo changes to each platform; mobile, backend, and/or web. At the end of every demo, we would have a list of rough spots in the demo, unexpected behavior and design feedback.
We grow this initiative together
Though these meetings were great, they did not scale well. Projects aren’t contained within squads and the invite list was changing frequently. The range in a number of projects across the squad started to complicate matters. Sometimes the meeting would be 10 minutes and other times 40 minutes. Our projects’ sprints could end on the same days, causing us to prioritize timing for specific projects.
After evaluating the existing process and realizing the flaws in the system, we decided to update the meetings to be project-based and encourage as many interested people to attend.
The goal of the meetings will be the same, but splitting them up across projects will help with scalability. Additionally, the new format will allow designers to find things that a developer demo won’t uncover. We will continue to see relevant feedback, good build notes and prepared demos.
However slight the sadness of letting go of the Sprint Life initiative is, it is easy to get over. It will be inspiring to watch it grow and see how each project lead personalizes their approach to holding their meetings.