Contributors/FY2016 Retrospectives/Unteamed

FY2015-16 (July 2015 to June 2016) “Unteamed” RetrospectiveEdit

Actions/DecisionsEdit

  • When failing to access help, escalate, beginning with manager.
  • Neil to follow up re: pressure to give presentations even when there is nothing interesting/ready to present
  • Managers to escalate encouraging the freedom to ask and have space to help cross-team.

Ground RulesEdit

  • Conversation this hour is confidential within the group
  • Written notes to be published to Editing, and to general public after a review pass
  • Purpose of Retrospective
  • Format

Review key events and results over the time periodEdit

  • WMF Events
    • Aftermath of the big reorg
    • Leadership issues
      • ED change
      • Waiting for CTO
  • Cross-Team
    • Former Design team changes
    • Losing team member from UI Std
    • Re-establishing FE dev standards group
    • UI standardization moved to Editing
  • Accomplishments
    • Quietly deployed audio/video playback for Safari/IE/Edge (desktop)
    • Strong progress on CSS guidelines; culmination in stylelint introduction and wide usage across teams.
    • M101 UI widgets design workboard established and continuous development
    • Research:Codex
    • Transition of Tech News to CEP
    • Formed new Editing Analysis team which took responsibility for many neglected areas (which are mostly still neglected)
  • Code-side leadership
    • Continuing to find our way with MediaWiki ArchCom organization & subcommittee work
    • Still trying to figure out our relation to third-party users

Identify things that went well and should be preservedEdit

Sample vote:

  • (GP)(VE) Small team and/or self-directed projects sometimes very successful
    • Examples: video stuff for Safari/IE/other and related infrastructure.  Brion: Worked on it until it was ready, talked to Ops and got support for deployment and testing.  Nobody noticed, but stuff started working that used to not work.
      • James: And that took two years of your time. :-)
    • Guillaume: autonomy, ability to submit projects and get sign-off (Codex)
  • (NQ) Neil: doing product-focused research for Collaboration team.
    • Joe asked; clear goal in mind.  There were fits and starts but I was able to deliver helpful information
  • (GP) Guillaume: Writing documentation and promoting a culture of documentation for institutional memory and robustness of processes
  • Cross-team connections with ops for deployment support
    • Brion: found it easy to get folks from ops to review/test/deploy necessary bits for video infrastructure
    • Volker: reached out once, very positive
  • (VE) Volker: Establishing trust with community members and developers across teams
    • Went very well, with the help of May building trust, which transferred to Volker.
  • Moving UI Standardization to Editing
    • Made it closer to teams with relevant focus
    • Volker: reached out to Editing devs because we have OOUI, developer power and execution, buy-in
  • (BV)(GP) Guillaume: Ability to help other people and teams at the WMF on editing, historical background, or other topics of expertise not specifically within new role responsibilities.

Identify things that should be changedEdit

  • (VE) Felt like wasn’t satisfied with projects I worked on; maybe felt I didn’t deliver value
    • Neil: Was very hard to decide what was most important to work on and what wasn’t.  Hard to prioritize.
    • Nobody telling me to do this or not.
    • When it’s not working, feels like …
    • Guillaume: Success in self-directed projects was preceded by months of struggling to figure out role and purpose in the group after the rushed re-org
  • (NQ)(VE) Neil: pressure to give presentations on things, even if I don’t have something that feels great to present (not ready, not interesting results)
    • James: not just data.  Some level of short-termism/communications pressure on teams building products as well. Desire to have something blog-post-worthy every quarter.
    • LA: I think this is a symptom of the org being (too) bureaucratic and justification-focused, while development is more typically open source / self-directed.
  • (BV) James: 18 months from re-org, haven’t officially agreed who’s responsible from what code in production
  • (NQ)(NQ)(BV)|GP) Hard to access help
    • if the data analysts need help, asking for help from Research, DBAs, Analysis.
    • Works when the individual person is responsive, but no systematic way.  Ad-hoc whether or not you get help. Those teams tend not to reach out to you if they’re doing something relevant to you, so a lot of pressure on you to figure out the right questions to ask.
    • Brion: Sometimes hard to get additional resources for projects (leading to small skunkworks or delay)
    • Volker: Under-resourced design members; sometimes hard to find designers/UX engineers to exchange on certain ideas or peer-reviewing
    • Brion: If you need resources on a project, have to figure out “how do we squeeze this into next year’s plan”, especially for me as not in a specific team structure.  Don’t know where to go to get resources.
  • Sometimes difficulty getting groups and committees to agree on directions when there’s not a central PM or other driving force
  • (BV)(VE) Volker: Balance of self-direction vs. setting goals together
  • (NQ)(BV) Trevor: It often helps to have a unified, broader goal towards which all teams (and other departments in Product and more widely) are working
  • Trevor: Much of our work hasn’t been visible to the outside world
    • Brion: sometimes we do cool work and don’t communicate it externally.  Nobody wants to plug it because it doesn’t sound interesting.
    • Volker: More visibility needed; also design work in general
      • Giving presentations; what are the right channels to present? To whom?
  • Some departure from WMF values in WMF management were challenging (for part of the year; better now)

Discuss top items, including ActionsEdit

  • Change: (NQ)(NQ)(BV)|GP) Hard to access help
    • James: use me to solve this
    • Helen: one thing I feel is, other people say: hard to access help.  In my brief tenure, already feeling this.
    • Helen: James is really supportive but outside of that, harder.
    • Escalate
  • Change: (NQ)(VE) Neil: pressure to give presentations on things, even if I don’t have something that feels great to present (not ready, not interesting results)
    • Follow up/Escalate
  • Change: (NQ)(BV) The Unteamed feel that it often helps to have a unified, broader goal towards which all teams (and other departments in Product and more widely) are working; there's a need to keep a balance between shared goals and providing the space for self-directed work.
    • Brion: merge with balance of self-direction vs setting goals together.
    • Rephrase to: “Unteamed say, … (TODO)’
  • Good: (BV)(GP) Guillaume: It was good to be able to help other people and teams at the WMF on editing, historical background, or other topics of expertise not specifically within new role responsibilities.
    • GP: worked for me; should encourage freedom to ask and to have the space to help (cross-team)
    • Escalate

Next StepsEdit

  • Review for publication
    • https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T141058
  • Who is representing this "unteam" in the team-of-teams? …
    • Managers
  • Followup?
    • 6 months this Thursday