TBC Engineering
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TBC Engineering

Chapter Lead in Agile Culture

In agile, the same capability employees form some kind of group often called “chapters”, similar in some ways to functions in traditional organizations (ex: Android chapter). Each chapter is responsible for: developing talent - guiding along their career paths; evaluating and promoting people; and building common tools shared by squads, standardize developer culture and ways of working. Because the chapters are responsible for hiring they must deploy talented people to the appropriate squads, based on their expertise and demonstrated competence, but once the talent joins the squad, chapters can not tell them how to set priorities, what to do within the squads, how to assign a task or how to spend a day. Chapter synchronization meetings take place once a week or bi-weekly. We do once a week at TBC and share new topics with members, analyze existing standards of development in the organization and try to foster new culture. “How” companies work — this is the responsibility of the chapter.

And chapter lead?

It is a role rather than a position. The chapter lead is the line manager for the chapter members, responsible for developing people and the things happening in the chapter but still is a member of the squad and does day-to-day work.

Creating a developer culture is not nice to have, it is the only way to move forward and it’s all about processes.

What about responsibilities?

Besides being a member of the squad which includes standups, meetings, and tasks, here are some other responsibilities as a chapter lead.

  • Communication — You are going to spend a good part of your working day in meetings. One-on-one meetings with chapter members, retrospective (retros), POCLACs(Product Owner +Chapter Lead + Agile Coach), chapter sync meetings, sync with other chapter leads and everyone who needs the help of competent opinion from your field.
  • Growth — You should care for everyone and their career growth. Not only salary or growth in the field but assign them to the appropriate squad where they can find the balance and display the strength.
  • Activation — You will be the one who leads chapter members to their desired growth step; you will be the one who activates their skills, helps them to perform better, learn and reach new heights.
  • Hiring — You are going to need developers, lots of them. You should convince them to work for squads and for your organization. It means you should be joining conferences, attending meetups (in a non-covid world), and other activities to get to know the community and blend in. Sometimes you can attract talents who know you and want to work with you.
  • Less code — You will write significantly less code, because of all the other responsibilities you will have. It means the calendar app will crawl into your everyday life and sometimes you are going to spend more time in calendar and mail rather than in IDE. The main objective becomes to find several consecutive hours to focus solely on the tasks/code because of an overwhelming amount of context switching you will have during the day. And I think it’s ok because you contribute to the project and organization in a different way. But also it means you should study hard to keep your tech skills sharp because as a chapter lead you have to stay sharp and know the field very well.

As a chapter lead and a member of the squad, you are the one who can work as a versatile person. You should be agile, depending on the situation, take care of release processes, meet other squads, activate others to start the change, provide some hotfixes, raise the alarm if something is not correct, care about the security, and be the one everyone can rely on. The key is to be brave enough to take the first step in the dark and guide the others. You help everyone to build the processes. You are not required to be the best in every field but you should be nimble and agile to adapt to the situation, make the common ground comfortable for everyone and remove any bottlenecks from the processes.

Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.

— Peter Drucker

Is it worth it?

It depends on the person. I see people growing, happy and dedicated. You have a different measure to scale the success, you help others to do their job better, you contribute to the organization to build better products. Being the chapter lead is a great place to hone your soft skills.

Thanks to everyone in the Android chapter @ TBC Bank, we genuinely build something amazing and we have a reason to be proud. Thank you, for giving me the ability to grow with you.

So, do you feel you want to be a part of the Android chapter, creating awesome developer culture and building digital banking products? We are always hiring, join us: https://www.tbcagile.ge/Vacancies/72

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Merab Tato Kutalia

Merab Tato Kutalia

Android GDE, Software Engineer with 8 years of experience, specializing in Android development. Chapter Lead @ TBC Bank. Amateur cyclist and runner

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