Blue Harvest Fridays
Every time I talk about our Blue Harvest Fridays, it catches the attention of the audience, indeed, it is one of the main reasons that made me want to join the company as well. Some people always ask me: is it like Google Fridays? Indeed, I don’t have enough information to compare them, But here I’ll write what Blue Harvest Fridays is about.
To do it, I’ll start by talking about the Blue Harvest internal structure and how we use it to develop our engineers’ not only in technical skills but in many other aspects we understand are the key factors of our professionals.
From the beginning
Back in February of 2017, Two Capgemini software engineers came together with a business model in mind: “creating a software engineering company for software engineers”. So, every aspect of this company should be addressed from the engineer’s point of view. And this is exactly how Blue Harvest (BH) looks like.
If you spend some time in our office, It won’t take long to see that everyone in BH can program in a small set of languages but also has the know-how for the industry. This is pretty cool but can drive you to have the wrong image, thinking we are just concerned about the technical side of the challenges we have.
The Blue Harvest concept goes beyond code and software development, we are developing people, a positive multi-cultural environment and our own company. As we say in our vision: “Invest in People, grow in technology”.
Our vision of what is needed to scale up a tech startup made us structure our company with 4 pillars: craftsmanship, challenges, people and marketing. These four pillars are the foundation for supporting not only company growth, but also to allow the development of new business models. So, they are described below:
The Craftsmanship Pillar is about our main goal: Building high quality, top-notch solutions, with the best principles of Software Engineering.
Craftsmanship is the pillar where people can be free to try new stacks, concepts and put different pieces together. This exercise allows the smartest minds to work together every Friday. Working using the Agile model, based on four weeks of sprint size, which results in: roughly 20 hours to build something to present in the demo.
This limited amount of time encourages engineers to adopt a more organize and time-managed way of working. This then helps them to work in bigger teams working on production-ready projects.
The Challenges Pillar is where the entrepreneurs stay.
The main goal of this pillar is to help the company grow by making it sharper and more profitable. There are different strategies of engagement in the challenges:
One of the ways is based on the experience and feedback of a single consultant working in our customers. This helps us to grow our presence in the customer’s teams, delivering more power and quality to them. To be able to do it, our recruitment process hunt engineers not only based on technical excellence but also based on the right balance of emotional intelligence and communication skills.
The second approach is based on the cross-pillar engagement. Our challenge creators map the recurring patterns on customer’s needs using factors like technical quality and the analytical skills, in real-world challenges and use it to develop in-house generic, well-architect solutions. Designing it with cloud and technical agnosticism from the start, following all the best practices and market standards. Creating modular solutions to accelerate projects, which we call Blueprints.
A typical Friday for a challenge creator is mainly divided amongst exchanging the experiences they had at the client and looking for new solutions and opportunities.
Blue Harvest has the main concern to hire the best professionals in the market and keep them growing, challenged and motivated. And trust me, this is quite tricky, because smart people get bored quite fast.
BH has developed a mentorship structure to support the career growth of our team. We work with Personal Development Plans (PDPs). Every individual in Blue Harvest has the steering wheel of their development, and our mentors support them with feedback, insights and managing the goals using the agile framework, we evaluate our professionals in quarterly interactions. But the most important part is that we work together on their goals.
The Engineers select SMART goals to accomplish every quarter, and they can select either technical skills to develop or soft skills, usually, you are advised to balance them on your PDP.
Mentor roles are played by our lead engineers and other higher-ranked engineers, senior developers are also encouraged to sponsor entry-level professionals. It is beneficial for both ends of the relationship, mentors can grow their coaching skills and mentees are supported to grow in their path.
Last but not least, the important aspect of mentoring and personal development is to develop the emotional intelligence of our engineers, by bringing the expectations to the real-world level, helping them to set a plan to accomplish the desired goals. This is a powerful tool to unleash the full capacity of those brilliant minds.
To complete the structure, we have the marketing pillar: Here we define ourselves to the world.
It is very challenging to change the developer/engineer mindset to do marketing, and challenges are what make us get out of the bed in the morning. The marketing pillar is responsible to enable communication to the outside world, to think in the best language to communicate with candidates, customers, with or without a technology background.
The activities of these people involve summit presentations, organize meetups about different tech subjects, support sales, posting in our tech blog, and telling stories about our experiences in complex projects.
What about Fridays?
After painting the picture of our structure, it is easier to explain how Fridays look like. BH, by default, works with integrated agile planning and execution, every sprint we have our planning and demos sessions, allowing our engineers to, not only, to be acknowledged for the work the others are doing, but also to promote the integration of the pillars.
This integration enables the creation of multi-skill teams to concept, develop, scale-up and launch new initiatives in a very open and free environment.
Ideas are very welcome, but they will only come out of the paper if someone takes ownership and puts them into action. Anyone must be able and responsible to start something, maybe find other colleagues to team up, estimate costs of investments (in hours and money), wrap-up in a commercial format and try the product on the market. Of course, there is a lot of support, and we work in a very collaborative way. We empower people.
The integration with Capgemini is always welcome as well, our partnership has been creating great success stories at different customers and different countries.
The Engineering-first mindset enables us to develop our professionals, new ideas, products, business capabilities, and our Company, all at once. Fridays are the heart of the company and this is the “magic” factor that differentiates ourselves from the other companies. By our own experience, we have seen great software developers become the thought leaders and the new entrepreneurs of the IT industry.
We are smart, we are creative and we work hard, but we have fun too. The EOD at Blue Harvest resolves around having a relaxing time having beers and talking with our colleagues, playing Video-games or singing Karaoke.
What is the advantage?
After what I have told, It is not hard to understand how “BH Fridays” are beneficial for our staff. But there are many benefits for the client as well.
Our professionals ramp up their selves in a very dynamic manner. The bar is quite high in Blue Harvest. Our professionals are strongly oriented to get cloud and DevOps knowledge since their first day, and for that, they count on the best colleagues, cloud account access, powerful MacBook, and a strong DevOps culture.
Everything is agile at Blue Harvest, from your PDP to the pillars’ deliverables, multi-skill teams collaborate in a very dynamic way using integrated planning, asynchronous stand-ups, and many other edge practices of highly performant teams.
Harvesters are encouraged to collaborate through the Knowledge Management (KM) tools as the main communication channel. Following the most successful strategies of the open-source projects around the globe, we keep our KM tools always update, and we keep the “write once, share always” culture alive every day.
At the end of the day, being a harvester is about taking responsibilities. We are the owners of our company, we are ready to take the challenges we accept on our customers to the next level, because it is what moves us forward.
Much more value than we can imagine
The collaborative environment allowed by our Fridays has taken us further than we imagined. The freedom to create and the empowerment enabled by the company has produced great results so far.
There are a lot more on the oven, we have been engaging in creating very innovative Blueprints, collaborative projects and brewing new ways to organize our teams in a distributed way, avoiding the pitfalls of centralization of the control.
The young Blue Harvest has been growing and forging the leads of this new generation of a highly skilled and versatile class of engineers.
Living the “Fridays” is much easier than writing about it. So, if you feel interested in our BH Fridays, you want to join our team or you are intrigued by how we can help your company, let us know you are coming to visit us in Amsterdam or Stockholm. Be our guest.
Visit our website as well: bluehaverst.io
Originally published at https://medium.com on February 3, 2020.