Every 8 weeks we spend quality time with the whole team, typically a half day offsite. Each offsite we seek to experiment in some way, shape or form.
During our first offsite in July, we experimented with a way to set goals and measure progress, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) in order to have more focus and also meaningful conversations about our work and personal development.
At our recent offsite we experimented with the use of our time. Rather than having a fixed time-boxed agenda with a lot of content to go through, we took a different approach: we were consciously irresponsible with our time. We were curious where this would take us.
Getting to know each other
We started with an exercise to get to know each other better on a personal level. Quietly and individually, we looked back at the best moments of our life. Be it professional achievements, personal experiences, with friends and family, strangers or completely alone. We picked the one that we were most keen to re-live if we had 30 seconds to spare. We re-enacted it through mime for the rest of the team to guess, then we each explained why we picked the experience and what it meant to us.
The icebreaker was a great hook to talk about what our values and have more meaningful conversations about how we look at life. Definitely something to recommend for teams to connect on a more intimate level - without being to heavy handed.
Mathias led us through a a retrospective linked to one of our strategic objectives: "Being an Employer of Choice for like-minded people".
Mathias used "The Box" retrospective format: imagine we have a box that contains a lot of things related to being an Employer of Choice. Some you want to keep, some you'd rather take out and not use anymore. Some things are in there that you know have potential but not in its current form, they need to be recycled. And some additional things you might want to add to the box.
Staying true to our experiment, instead of prioritising the retro items and timeboxing our conversation around them, we talked through them all. We talked through each and every idea on the retro board, and it was surprisingly refreshing not to be time-constrained.
We discussed and learnt about:
- skills people have and their passion to train others
- whether a coaching mindset is appropriate for Devs in a delivery team (the short answer: it depends)
- the value of having a good balance between caring while still remaining objective as a consultant
- guidelines for ‘working from home’ when based at a client
The list does go on. But we soon realised that many of the things we learnt throughout the offsite only came up during conversations we would not have had if we had been more focused on time.
Learnings from the experiment
In our teams we are always focused on getting the most value out of a workshop, making the most of it for everyone attending. Being in a position to be irresponsible with time was fantastic. There was no pressure, it was all about the conversation.
Of course, we don't always have the luxury of such a large amount of time and freedom, however in this particular instance it was invaluable to surface otherwise constrained conversations.
PragmaThanks is another recent experiment which we go deeper into here. It is our way of recognising the good work our team does for each other and encourage appreciation amongst the team. With some Slack-wizardry, Juliano captured all the instances we had thanked each other in Slack over the past eight weeks and printed them on cards. We each then read the cards out to each other.
It was a great reminder for everyone of how we helped each other out. Let’s just say there was a lot of cheering, and a lot of hugs.
Stay tuned for the next offsite in November!