Ben Mancini
Sep 13 · 6 min read
#RetroWeek

So it’s the end of our first #RetroWeek here at Redgate Product Development and below is our write-up of the week.

As a reminder its worth pointing out both why we are here on social media and why we ran this experiment this week.

Our Purpose

The purpose of us putting out all of our content is pretty simple. We’ve been building software for 20 years now. Along the way we’ve picked up significant learning which we think could help others. We’re not about keeping our knowledge and learning behind walled gardens. We take an approach of transparency when it comes to building software and developing really effective teams. Its one of the values on our website: -

Transparency helps us continually improve

We make mistakes visible and share the evidence used to make decisions. No gossiping, no intrigue, no pussy-footing around problems.

So with 20 years of learning, mistakes, successes and software development we want to give something back. Its why we welcome people visiting us, commenting on our content and generally asking us what we’ve learnt.

So why a social media retrospective

As anyone who works with teams knows, the point of a team’s existence isn’t to be going 100mph on building software. We refine our approach, our processes, our techniques through learning. We discover things that went well, things that could have gone better and the things that we just need to stop doing. This approach of retrospecting on how we work equally applies to how we share content through all of our social media channels. It’s a key plank of continuous improvement i.e. inspecting and adapting. Hence #retroweek

So what have we learned?

The biggest learning was that you are all a very quiet lot! 😊

But more specifically: -

On day 2 we asked you ‘What aren’t we doing so well at?’, we had zero replies to this question.

On day 3 we asked you ‘What we need to stop doing?’, we had one reply to this comment which you can see below.

On day 4 we asked you ‘What more would you like to see us share?’, we had zero replies to this question.

So what can we take from this week’s experiment?

We could simply write this off as a failed experiment, but we’re not willing to give up on this yet. We think that we need to build a stronger community around what we’re doing first before we come back with another #retroweek. Its understandable really. In our teams our colleagues know each other very well, the bonds between them are strong, we’ve built a level of safety between our colleagues which means when we are asked to talk about the feature that went live and caused an issue, we’re comfortable suggesting what needs to be done differently in the future. But when we push content out to you and share what we are doing, we have less safety between us. It means the ability to comment without the worry of something happening afterwards isn’t there just yet.

There were some positive comments however. We’re pleased that people do seem to find the content we share helpful as it means we are meeting our purpose, we can validate this through metrics such as our readership of our Ingeniously Simple page here and the views of our YouTube videos. We can also see a steady uptick in engagement on our Twitter page. Evidently we are doing some things right. But we don’t want to simply sit here comfortable that we’re addressing our followers questions or pain points. So what are we going to do off the back of this week: -

Next Steps

Start

  1. We need to build a sense of a stronger community here in Cambridge and online through our social media. So we’re going to launch a meet-up group, but we’re not going to be limited to just a physical presence. We’re going to utilize technology to invite everyone in via streaming of meetups and online based sessions. Look out in the coming weeks for announcements of this new experiment.
  2. We’re going to offer you the ability to respond to content in a clearer way by highlighting how you can do this, via here on Medium, on our other social media channels and by running regular polls to see whether we’re hitting the mark
  3. We’re going to offer the chance for people to come in and see how we do things here in product development or come and see you and share what we are doing and what we’ve learnt along the way
  4. We’re going to complement our already existing set of content with useful, quick and repeatable techniques and ideas via our about to launch ‘5 minute marvel’ video series which will share the tips and techniques we’ve found hit the mark with our own teams on our YouTube page (Don’t forget to subscribe!)

Continue

  1. Our content appears to be hitting the mark, so we’ll continue providing thought pieces, experiments, write-ups and generally sharing our learning and working with you through all of our channels. Already we’ve launched the following areas: -
  2. Weekly lightning talk video series
  3. Our weekly #MeetTheTeam series on Medium
  4. Experiment write ups
  5. Techniques we’re trying
  6. Video series of larger events such as our recent #DownToolsWeek series
  7. Our regular monthly #FeatureWeek series of events
  8. Our #IngeniouslySimple podcast series
  9. Engaging with you, we’ve already built up a good following, and we want to continue sharing and engaging with you all. Hopefully you’ll have gathered we’re a friendly lot over here and we want you to feel like you can ask us anything, we don’t promise silver bullets, simply that we’ll continue engaging and sharing what we are learning
  10. Being transparent with you. Just as much as we’ll share the good, we’ll continue to share the things that didn’t turn out the way we expected, such as this write-up of our experiment to run this #RetroWeek. Again, this is us committing to transparency.

Stop

  1. Cat gifs. ? Maybe not 😊
  2. Worrying that this approach isn’t working. We’ve seen real engagement from you over the first 2 months of running this approach to sharing with our community. We tried this as an experiment but its clear that there is a very real want for this sort of content and engagement in our community, so we’re not going to be shutting up shop with this approach.

In Summary

This has been a useful exercise for us to try. Conducting an open retrospective via our social media channels was always going to be a big ask, but the feedback we have received has been extremely positive. So we’re going to continue and look forward to you all getting involved!

Feel free to comment below on what you think or on our Twitter page

Ingeniously Simple

How Redgate build ingeniously simple products, from inception to delivery.

Ben Mancini

Written by

Development Manager @ Redgate, Agile Coach, ex — Programme Manager. Lover of all things agile. Founder of Cambridge Agile Exchange.

Ingeniously Simple

How Redgate build ingeniously simple products, from inception to delivery.

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