6 months of Jalapeños successes

Katie Jones
May 6 · 5 min read

Jalapeños formed in November 2020 which means it is coming up to our half-year anniversary! In reflection of that time, here are a few of our proudest moments:

Staying Aligned

Jalapeños is a multi-disciplinary team: we are made up of Digital Product Engagement (DP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Data Science (DS). At times, we’ve found it hard to work as one team and collaborate, but this doesn’t disregard our strong efforts in staying aligned with one another and preventing silos. One major effort we make is our weekly sharing session. Every Tuesday, we have between 30 minutes and 1 hour set aside for demos. We rotate who presents and try to encourage everyone within the team to share something. It has proven to be valuable to all of us and we all feel very much more aligned from participating. It is definitely something we will continue.

Agile Practices and Team Trust

No matter how agile the members, it is almost impossible for a forming team to start in a performing state. Luckily, we have the presence of Zara, an agile coach who has been supporting Jalapeños. We facilitated sessions to help us define our Ways of Working (WoW) and we chose Kanban as our practice. One of our team’s initial focus was on building psychological safety and trust and how to set the team up for success. This included writing and sharing user manuals, exploring the Tuckman model, fortnightly socials and creating a team canvas.

Jalapeños team canvas

Building strong foundations helped us to have open and honest conversations with each other. This was particularly beneficial over our first couple of months when we began experimenting with our processes.

If you closely analyse the team canvas, there is a lot of emphasis around retention and resurrection — this is our squad’s purpose. However, our purpose evolved when we started work on the CRM project. As the project kicked off, the biggest challenge we faced was being a multidisciplinary team and how to prevent silos in the 3 streams of work that now existed. This brought discussions around whether our stand up and delivery planning meeting style suited the whole team. What we unpacked from this was our meetings were not relevant for everyone. We put some time aside in a retro and we voted on whether to split up the stand-ups —we kept as one as we didn’t want to lose our sense of being a team. We defined a structure for the delivery planning session and off we went with an experiment. However, after experimenting for four weeks, we concluded to cancel the meeting as we discovered that we cover the same topics in other required meetings.

We found that because of the siloed WoW it has been difficult to review and improve our kanban practices. We are now in a better place to focus on agile and we hope we will see a positive impact from the changes we are putting into place in our WoW over the course of Q2.

Features

Though it has not been an easy formation at times, above all the team is delivering. Here are the features we’ve worked on in our first 6 months:

  • We’ve redesigned and rebuilt our subscription page so users can easily change subscription settings.
  • Cookbook API that provides over 1500 recipes with pagination and categorisation.
  • Cookbook feature that includes over 1500 recipes and the ability to navigate by categories. We are currently running an A/B test on 50% of iOS users.
  • New resubscription flow. The experiment was successful and we have decided to productionise this feature.
  • Churn Prediction Algorithm — a model that can pro-actively identify customers at risk of churn, and provide reasons why we think the customer may leave us. This enables the marketing team to start personalised marketing campaigns aimed at preventing customers from churning.
  • Data platform evaluation — We have completed PoCs with data science platform vendors in order to find the platform that will help us to fulfil our ambitious goals as we scale our data science capabilities.
  • Uploaded user data for over 1.5M users in our new CRM platform.
  • First email sent through new CRM provider (password reset).
  • Integration of iOS new CRM SDK. We have integrated the SDK into production and have customised in-app messages, push notifications and deep-linking.
  • Contribution to the Gousto design system (created to align design across all of our customer-facing apps).

What’s next?

There will be a couple of secondments happening over Q2. Christian has moved into Rockets and Julien and Katie will move in Haricots to support OTIF. Most of the team’s main priority will be to focus on delivering CRM. DS will be working on conversion optimisation algorithms in order to provide personalised marketing offers to customers, as well as work to optimise our customer care operations. We look forward to collaborating more as a team once we have completed the CRM project.

We don’t have all the answers but we are improving the way we create and track our actions. We have just facilitated a retro on our health survey results from the past four months and have defined many actions in an attempt to raise our lowest scores and build a happier team. We will start by modifying our health check survey in attempt to collect more accurate data. This will involve adding ‘Resources’ and ‘Career Path Alignment’ metrics, including a N/A and comment section for non-engineering members, and changing how we answer the questions from ‘We’ to ‘I’ to combat skewed data that comes from being made up of multiple streams. In effort to track our actions more efficiently, we have created a ‘Retro Actions’ Epic and have added a swimlane to our kanban board so they are visible in our morning standups.

More about us before we go

Just in case you wanted to know more about us Jalapenos, here are some of our fun facts:

  • Did you know that we are actually bright red when we are fully ripe? We are usually picked when we are still green, but if left to ripen we turn bright red. Us red ones are a little spicier and tend to be hotter than those picked before they were ripe.
  • We are the only chilli pepper to have been to space. In 1982, William B. Lenoir kindly took us on board the Columbia space shuttle.
  • Have you ever noticed those small brown lines on us that look like scars? This is called ‘corking’ and it actually corresponds to our heat level. The more ‘corking’ on us, the hotter we are.

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