Every Friday our team meets for two hours to work on something together. We’ve scratched the surface of many topics to get a feel for what is possible and dug deeper into others that we want to implement on our project. The adjacent mind map shows about a year’s worth of training (taken from our PM’s whiteboard for his talk on why we do technical training).
Hour of Code
Today our PM presented some things his young daughter did in the recent hour of code – a fantastic event to get kids (and adults) interested in programming. We also took a look at the similar Santa Tracker by Google where like an advent calendar there’s a different programming game or puzzle available every day in December leading up to Christmas. We had a ton of fun navigating our elves through mazes and flying them through the sky to pick up presents.
We’re always looking into fun ways to practice our skills, and what better way than a rewarding little game of CSS3 selectors! If you do any web programming, you should try this out: http://flukeout.github.io/. It took our group anywhere from 30-45 minutes to complete the 26 challenges and along the way you could hear many quiet refrains of “Yes!” and “oh-yah!”. It’s great to hear everyone having a great time and learning, too.
I gave the team some more resources to read up on in their own time, too:
Docs - http://devdocs.io/css-selectors/
Interactive - http://www.w3schools.com/cssref/trysel.asp
Tutorials - http://www.w3schools.com/css/css3_intro.asp (work through the menu on the left or click Next Chapter)
Our team works on personal goals and team goals. An example team goal was to upgrade our source code tool (TFS) and development tool (VS) to the latest versions. That took a major effort because it ended up getting bundled with an operating system upgrade (Win 8.1) and pushed out across our organization.
During the last 20 minutes of our tech meeting today we brainstormed what our next team goal should be. It needs to be something that takes a few months to a year and benefits the whole team.
We put up a list on the whiteboard as we brainstormed, and then each team member emailed me their three votes from the list (and they could vote more than once for any idea). The final tally of votes was:
- Kendo UI upgrade (4)
- MVC 5 upgrade (3)
- EF6 upgrade (2)
- SQL 2012 upgrade (0)
- Visual studio upgrade (0)
- Requirements Gathering/Analysis training (6)
- Mainframe administration training (2)
- Move automation/dev ops for better continuous integration (2)
I was excited to see the team want to work on requirements gathering and analysis training because I really enjoy those (I’ve given a couple of talks and am working on a Pluralsight course on the subject), and because it was one of the soft skills in a team who really loves the tech-side.
We’ll work on how to learn about a problem from our customers, how to ask why enough times to find out the real business reason, practice how to come up with a good plan for a complicated process, and more. We’ll watch some Pluralsight courses and dedicate some training days to getting better – I can’t wait to get started! It’s so good to get a direction set by the team that you know has the whole team’s buy-in; everyone wants to get better, we just need to provide the right environment to make it possible.