Monday, November 4, 2019

A meeting culture transformation

As I was looking into mob programming some years back, we summarized a common theme of complaints into a little cartoon with people discussing in a meeting room.
Person 1:
My team is interested in trying Mob Programming.
The idea is everyone works together on one computer.
The person at the keyboard is just typing what the whole team tells them to. So everyone is involved, instead of 5 people watching 1 person work.
You rotate quickly, every 5 minutes, to develop cross-functional teams and eliminate knowledge silos.
Ideas get implemented the best way the team can no matter who has them.
Misunderstandings and bugs are minimized.

Person 2:
Sounds like I'd be paying 5 people to do 1 job.
Now let's stop talking such nonsense. I still have a lot of slides to go through.
The word around is that managers hate mob programming. As a manager who wants my team to do mob programming but they refuse, I think we love blaming managers for our own assumptions we did not keep in check.

Up until this morning when I came to office, I was discussing how Mob Programming is different than a meeting. What changed this morning is that a colleague read my latest Mob Programming Guidebook  and pointed out that while we don't really do full-on mob programming, we have managed to transform our meetings into little mob sessions.

It's funny how you need someone else's eyes to see how you're different.

For the last three years here, I have not gone to a single meeting with slides prepared.
I don't go unprepared. But I never ever write an agenda in advance.
When I start a meeting, we build an agenda. It might be that we actively  take time to build it. Or it might be that we build it by parking themes that pop up that are relevant but not about the thing we are trying to sort out right now.
We work the agenda within a timebox either by doing the most important work first, or by doing just enough of it that the rest can happen offline, outside the meeting without others losing context completely.

As my colleague points out: all our meetings are little mob sessions. How about yours?