Railslove Is Taking Classes Again
In a team of more than 15 people working on different projects, it gets hard to keep everyone informed about what's going on in other projects. That alone might not be a big issue, but we found it also hampers the sharing of knowledge in our team, which is crucial to our work. So far, our Campfire channel and the coffee counter have been the main places of exchange across project borders. Campfire is, on the one hand, generally busy, so the best links and hints get easily lost or overlooked by some. On the other hand it can never really replace a proper conversation. Sharing coffee's also not a good solution because you're never doing it with the entire team.
Our new solution is called Prezbo (in honour of Roland Pryzbylewski) - half-hour team meetings consisting of 5-minute presentations. We think of it as our internal Twitter and, just like with 140 characters, with limitations come great opportunities. Everyone in the team can present their code, a new project, an interesting article, or just discuss a question, or ask for opinions on a plugin or pattern. Each presentation lasts a maximum of four minutes with one minute for questions. It's perfectly fine and encouraged to present nybbles of information or ask questions which will only take a minute to answer.
We've obviously had team meetings before but never kept to such strict time limits - both in terms of total length as well as per presentation. Sometimes talks got boring for some while others drifted off in lengthy discussions. With Prezbo, we have 30 minutes of short programme which can be followed up ad libitum in smaller groups. The outcome of one of those longer discussions is Bumi and Jakob's Validation Rage. Even more importantly, perhaps, the new format encourages people to raise topics they'd usually not have deemed important enough.
Currently we're documenting our meetings in very succinct markdown logs - pretty much like Mr. Prezbo's class register entries - which we send around via email and keep in a private git repository. We're afraid there's some internal stuff in there we can't share, but we'll extract some highlights and post them here from time to time.
So far we're having a lot of fun with Prezbo. Meetings are scheduled very dynamically - whenever enough talks have been proposed we let the school bells ring. Attendance is not compulsory and we have a strict no-latoptops-and-no-smartphones policy (except for speakers).
Please let us know what you think about Prezbo and about your experiences with successful team meetings in the comments below!