Contributors/FY2017H2 Retrospectives/PMs

Past Retrospectives Edit

Ground Rules Edit

  • Conversation this hour is confidential within the group
  • Written notes to be published to Contributors, and to general public after a review pass
  • Purpose of Retrospective:
    • Forum for people not on other teams to be heard, get problems addressed.
  • Format ...

Action Items from before Edit

FY 2016 Edit

  • When failing to access help, escalate, beginning with manager.
    • NQ: still an occasional problem that requires this tactic, not that other teams don’t want to help but [busy]; could ask for help synchronously (disruptive) or by email or a Phab ticket (lots of writing and structure).
    • AA: [audio issues] feel the same way.
  • Neil to follow up re: pressure to give presentations even when there is nothing interesting/ready to present
    • Now resolved.
  • Managers to escalate encouraging the freedom to ask and have space to help cross-team.
    • Cross-team works OK, but it continues to be hard to work between departments.
    • JM: ERI was hard, coordinating across the Tech/Audiences boundary.  Projects were not aligned at the resource level.

FY 2017 H1 Edit

  • Change from “un-teamed” to “Product” retro for next one, in 6 months DONE
  • JA to publish notes after Friday deadline for redaction. DONE

What happened Jan to Jun 2017 Edit

  • Staffing & Org changes
    • NQ: I went to to work almost exclusively on New Editor Experiences
    • JF: Executive change
    • JF: Multimedia was transferred to Readers, with their own PM.
    • DG: Dan joined the team, taking over from James as PM of the Editing team.
    • JM: Merger of Collaboration and Translation teams into Global Collaboration
    • JF: We've been renamed from Product → Editing to Audiences → Contributors, with some confusion as to what that means long-term.
  • Process
    • AA: Annual planning. Nice idea of a process.
    • JF: Undertook annual planning for FY 2018; lots of process differentials from previous run, some more effective than others.
  • AA: CX and VE final integration work started.
    • AA: I proposed the integration in 2015 and actual work started in Feb 2017 for Language and May/June 2017 for VE team.
    • JF: David Chan has been seconded from VE to work on CX for a total of ~18 months since 2014
    • AA: thought that DC worked on CX server rather than VE integration
  • DG: Increased scrutiny from senior management on 2017 wikitext editor & similar work

What worked? Edit

  • Staffing & Organization
    • DG: My merger into the team (Editing, and Contributors overall) went well.
    • JF: otherwise stable over this period, which was good.
  • Annual Planning
    • JM: annual plan was an improvement over previous year. Appreciated getting input from my colleagues.
    • JF: Annual plan had no negative feedback from the community during the process (albeit in a context of very little feedback at all).
    • AA: Nice internal Contributors process with spreadsheet for annual planning.
      • What bits specifically?  AA: I rarely remember FY 2015's process, but the initial round of collecting from staff and sorting this time based on criteria was nice, the general idea.
      • JM: getting validation/challenge from peers was good
  • JM: GlobCol team is basically on track for deliverables.
    • Does this apply to all teams?  JF: yes, “teams”, Editing, Parsing, and New Editor Experiences also getting good stuff done.
    • JF: On track vs on schedule ….
    • NQ: Maybe too early to tell re: New Editor Experiences.
  • JM: Office move is on target it seems.
    • JF: Do you mean, with minimal disruption to day-to-day work? If so I agree.
  • JM: The “editorial” (Contributors) off-site was good (but Oct 2016, out of scope of retro).

What do we want to change? Edit

  • Annual Planning
    • JF: Annual planning process didn't engage as many community members or very deeply relative to previous processes.
      • NQ: in general, it’s quite difficult to engage community members in any abstract/strategic planning; they’re busy and often just aren’t interested
      • JF: even relative to past processes, didn’t engage with many people
      • We did less engagement, or did the same and it didn’t work this time?  JF: Both.
      • [discussion about alternatives.  Specifics vs high-level plans and strategy.]
      • JF: we don’t explain relative priorities - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 vs $1 million for X; also don’t say what we’re not doing.
      • NQ: community members also might not feel like their comments will have any effect, because it’s very hard to influence a team’s actual plans even if you can get them to change the text of the annual plan
      • JM: Plan seems too abstract [for useful response]?  Yes.
    • “Ongoing work” for CX using VE should have been written down more explicitly.
      • JA: straw explanation: AA didn’t understand CX integration to count as “new work”, needing to go onto the spreadsheet.
      • AA: didn’t understand what the hard deadline was for and why it was hard.  Had well-defined things to do in CX, knew long ago that we wouldn’t finish in FY, had them written down, tried to bring them up and get them written down in the annual plan, was written down as ongoing work.
    • JM: annual planning that proceeds from goals to projects instead of vice versa.
      • Conversation between specifics and generalities.  Plan was a lot of specific projects, what we thought was the best according to criteria, and out of that [synthesized a strategy]. Later at the QCI we saw our high-level strategy expressed as mobile, new readers, and existing editors, which was correct, but felt like the first time I’d seen it expressed.
      • JF: [details of Wes and C-levels participating in process]
      • JM: I think you reverse-engineered the annual goals and did so correctly, but I would like more discussion and more [moving forwards from goals to specifics]
      • NQ: you are saying that that process worked well but it was an odd way to do goals, build them from specifics.
      • JM: or having a two-part process.  Initial phase to talk about goals, then a break to generate project ideas that seem to align.
      • AA: problem with, what the goals are.  But the process … better way to agree on what the goals should be.
    • JM: less emphasis on delivering tools and more on research so as to deliver the right tools, as per my understanding of management’s mandate.
    • More or more transparent feedback from sr. management on goal selection. (Or maybe not?)
    • JM: feedback from Toby is be more deliberate about products, more research, more preparation.  That’s great, but very time-consuming.  If we do that, will have to deliver fewer products, and fix fewer bugs.
    • NQ: New Editor experience was kicked off 10 months ago, might get specific ideas next month.  So putting its results in current Annual plan may have been too ambitious.
    • JM: or ACTRIAL, started in June, Danny is working on that full-time, maybe early results in November.  These things take time.
  • Staffing & Organization
    • JM: hire an analyst, and generally better metrics support
      • DG: plus one million! This has been a huge difficulty for me.
    • JF: Losing Guillaume for an indeterminate period has meant we've missed out on a lot of the Contributors strategy thinking. Hoping this could be fixed soon.
    • DG: Content Translation has been in this weird limbo about product ownership that has been uncomfortable and confusing, and other miscellaneous misunderstandings about the status and future of content translation in general
    • AA: Language and Collaboration merger started as a management change, but turned out to be a tighter merger.
    • JA: How did the re-org go relative to its goals?
  • Goals and Objectives
    • DG: Getting more clear direction on what the senior management want us to do. I get the feeling they don’t approve of what we’re doing, but that’s not been made explicit. I don’t know why they disapprove, or what they’d rather we do instead.
  • JF: We've not been very good at taking credit for the work we do, which has led to some confusion in terms of value and focus.
  • JF: Relatively poor communication of the long arc of our strategic changes.

Top Issues Edit

  • DG: biggest issue by far is lack of data analysis.  False dichotomy: more focus on research does not mean less product delivery, because less research leads to less efficient product delivery.  1 analyst for 15 people was [much better than nothing].  Want 1 dedicated data analyst.
    • Seconded by all.
    • Top priority
  • Something about annual planning.
    • More deliberative within Contributors
    • Get validation from senior management about our goals so we know we are working on the right thing, and don’t start to wonder about it.
      • JF: have been asking for this for a long time.
    • Get management support for doing more research and preparation, which necessarily means delivering less [product], more slowly.
      • JF: pressure to deliver comes from lots of stakeholders in a nuanced way

Next Steps Edit

No specific, realistic followup actions were identified.

Open question: Continue this as a PMs retro?  How frequently?