Wikimedia Discovery/Meetings/Discovery retrospective 2017-03-16

Previous action items (from 2016-01-05)Edit

  • Katie will arrange a meeting w/designers about rationale for design manager hire   Done (many conversations)

Issues raised in team retrosEdit

(Kevin went through team retro notes and attempted to pull out items that are either cross-team in nature, or are particularly notable for other reasons.)

Analysis team Edit

  • Updating to reportupdater seemed harder and took longer than anticipated because of bugs, etc - no blame here - just noting that it took longer than we had hoped
  • Can sometimes feel isolated working in a small team, with limited number of people just within Discovery
  • Do other teams in Discovery feel like we are supporting them enough?

Interactive team Edit

(No retrospectives in the last 2 months)

Search team Edit

  • security patch breaking production - something is missing there in the process 
  • Wasn't aware of stuff happening with the interactive team until the announcement 
    • Being remote leads to hearing less gossip (not that gossip is a good thing) 
    • Maybe all-Discovery retros would have shared knowledge of some of the issues with the interactive team
  • Do people want more feedback on their work/way 
    • yes!
  • People in the collab space for stand-ups should make sure they are on screen when speaking. 
  • Running A/B tests is a very slow feedback loop
  • Getting feedback on things that are still internal, before releasing to the world, is working fairly well - could it be improved? 
    • Applies to language things we're doing. Ex: Swedish feedback helped us avoid implementing something poor; Getting feedback on RelEng for Polish
    • We don't always get a lot of feedback on mailing lists
  • We sometime focus too much on having efficient meetings
  • Product (user?) Testing: I'd like to see if there's ways we could expand our testing "toolbelt". We rely heavily on A/B tests, but there are testing methodologies that other teams use (ex:, community workshops, beta features etc) that might be worth exploring. 
  • Do we need to foster more knowledge sharing between areas of expertise?
  • Our CL asks: Do folks feel supported?

Vertical-wide things that are working wellEdit

  • ES5 (ElasticSearch 5) is going out - yay!
  • It seems like the work-centric unmeeting and related discussions in other meetings (weekly team and search sprint planning) are helping spread info (like water-cooler talk) and bring up interesting/important topics
  • The dashboard work from Analytics folks is really helpful. Even though I'm not smart enough to understand half of the work that went into it, having data and numbers to share and use in discussions with communities go a long way toward building trust in our work. 
  • I like seeing backend search and frontend search working together (on the cross-wiki stuff) - MP
  • Recent unmeeting was very helpful in talking about upcoming team travel and some of the challenges we're having arranging it (good that nearly everyeone was there for the discussion)

Vertical-wide things that could be improvedEdit

  • [2] ** Do other teams in Discovery feel like we (Analysis team) are supporting them enough?
    • interactive team has not had many interactions with analysis, but I'm sure that there are tons of things that would make sense (maybe not the right moment to dig into this - seeing the status of interactive team)
      • (There was a brief written conversation here, which included disagreement about past events, including actions by people who were not present in this conversation. It has been redacted to avoid unfairly portraying any individual or team.)
    • [1] * in general, yes—though there has been a new idea tossed around of implementing a "standard" automated analysis, which would help with A/B turnaround time.
      • I think i was supposed to create a ticket summarizing our ideas here and forgot ... EB
      • We were thinking about this at some point (task T131795) and maybe could open it up again
    • There are probably some non standard features with maps which would be quite interesting (which part of the world are looked at most comes to mind)
  • [3] ** *Wasn't aware of stuff happening with the interactive team until the announcement 
    • We have not really done anything to address this
    • had no idea there was now a contractor guy working on maps :P
    • Being in the interactive team has been very challenging emotionally over the last months

Other vertical-wide notes, issues, concerns, questionsEdit

  • Annual planning has been messy and complicated this year. More variables than usual, with a totally new process.
    • From the bottom it feels a little like "wait and try not to fear the consequences"
      • This may not be limited to the "bottom"
        • Then it's an organization-wide problem (well, mainly people in Products)
  • The new sister project search results are really exciting. When can we share them with wikimedia-l? :p
    • Can share at any time using the existing demo-links really?
      • Personally, I'd like to see how the second test goes - if all is well, then we can more broadly share the sample URL to wikimedia-l until it's in production
  • [1] *Recent Collab Jam was insightful for me - but also confusing as annual planning was around the corner and budget was unknown and there is a possible re-org that people have been talking about for product and tech. Lots of swirling ideas.
  • Getting budget for a possible new contractor to help with search relevance is exciting!
  • [7] *******Lots of 'gossip' about the possible re-org
    • Care to share any gossip?
      • Questions about search as a backend only team
        • What would happen to those who are not backend engineers?
        • What would it mean for the Senior Designer we are trying to hire? 
      • PM's maybe not needed
        • "Dan, you are the weakest link, goodbye."
        • In seriousness I'd (Dan) actually bet several hundred dollars that PMs will continue to be needed
      • I remember when we were saying it wasn't a re-org, but just something smaller
      • the scope and breadth of the possible re-org is very much unknown
      • Generally, you do not have to fear for your jobs. Re-orgs are not backdoor ways to get rid of people in this org, and never have been.


[7] *******Lots of 'gossip' about the possible re-org

  • KH: I haven't heard about almost any of these. Are they really being said?
  • DG: I'm also surprised by most of these. I heard an idea of moving search backend to technology...just a random idea, and I haven't heard anything like that since
  • KH: Yes, I also heard that idea, but as far as I know it hasn't progressed
  • DT: Nobody knows, so people are speculating. Will we focus more on the technology side, so less need for product mgrs? There is concern, because it's a big unknown. It has been a month now. 
  • KH: In our small group conversation, we mostly talked about how difficult it is to respond to change, given our 18-month annual planning cycle. 
  • DG: In many orgs, "reorg" is code for letting people go. That's incredibly unlikely here. Don't fear for your jobs. 
  • ErikaB: Bad connection here. Seems like there are 2 types of exploration: Are the current teams/silos right and in the right places? Are there teams that are more service-like than product-like? As far as I can tell, they are just explorations. 
  • DT: Some teams were submitting budgets asking for a lot of growth. If search were split into back/front end teams, how would coordination work?
  • KH: If anyone in this meeting would know that had changed, it would be me, and I haven't heard that. 
  • DG: The previous re-org was messed up, but managers were still aware of much of what was going on. 
  • KH: Any decision that would be made that would affect a team should be discussed with the team before being decided. 
  • TJ: They said the plan would be discussed before it would be implemented. I wasn't terribly concerned, but that makes me even less concerned. 
  • KH: My understanding is that's still the plan. Put stuff on wiki and get comments. A lot of people are waiting to engage until they have something to react to. 
  • ErikaB: When change happens at c-level, there are spontaneous responses, like the reorg discussion[3] ** *Wasn't aware of stuff happening with the interactive team until the announcement 
  • KH: We keep hitting snags with announcements (e.g. reorg). Difficult to make a statement without talking about the future, but the future is in flux. 
  • KH: Regarding people not being aware until the announcements: This was nobody's first choice of resolution. 
  • GL: Interactive team has been in a difficult position for quite a long time. Decision to wind it down happened quickly, but troubles had been there for months. Are we really a team or not? 
  • KS: I'm not clear about boundaries across teams within Discovery. If there are sensitive issues within a team, should those be shared with other teams in Discovery?
  • TJ: With remote teams and people, it's less likely that you'll hear about things going on in other teams. Harder with 15 people. 
  • KH: Any suggestions what we could learn and improve?
  • GL: Was the interactive team ever really part of Discovery? Maybe it didn't make sense to try to fit them in. If it does, we should find ways to work together more. 
  • DG: At the start of Discovery, maps were as integrated as search. Those early maps product aspirations weren't implemented. There were siloing problems in Discovery at the start (e.g. search+analysis). I felt somewhat pushed out of maps/interactive (by multiple people)
  • ErikaB: If teams are sharing resources, it makes a lot more sense to stay closely connected, but by virtue of being under the same umbrella of Discovery, it would be good to have opportunities to share experiences around work styles, challenges, things that seem more universal to talk about and solve together
  • KH: If we're going to have a cohesive dept, we should all be going toward the same goal. At some point, we diverged. If anyone has thoughts, please bring them to  the offsite so we can discuss them

Action itemsEdit

  • KS Follow up on other items that had votes
    • [2] ** Do other teams in Discovery feel like we (Analysis team) are supporting them enough?
    • [1] *Recent Collab Jam was insightful for me - but also confusing as annual planning was around the corner and budget was unknown and there is a possible re-org that people have been talking about for product and tech. Lots of swirling ideas.
  • DG?: follow up on the collaboration between interactive and analysis, there are some unresolved issues there...
  • ErikB: Create automated A/B testing ticket, if it hasn't already been done (T131795?)