Previously I’ve discussed the challenges of organising our Knowabunga days due to the wide range of different and exciting interests we have here at tretton37. When planning companywide activities we have to cater to all of these interests or we run the risk of not getting a return on the investment. We are convinced that learning goes hand in hand with the individual’s aspirations, and therefore interest is an important factor. I like to think that we have succeeded with that so far, but we can always strive to make it even better.
We typically organise these days around common goals and establish a few boundaries. Teams are usually created based on your areas of specialisation or areas you wish to develop further (for example Sharepoint devs, front-end devs, tranditional C# devs). The goal is set up so that you can use any technology, which is typically how we deal with the fragmented interests. Now, we also have a few people that work with the ‘soft aspects’ of our trade – those we call ‘coaches’ and the like. Since coding is not their ‘thing’ they usually plan something different on their own. This Knowabunga we facilitated two tracks in line with this area called “People and Leadership” and “Presenters Guild” and allowed these tracks to be open to all.
I expected that all the devs would go for coding in the “Perfect Stack” track, and – heck – we even called it the main track. That assumption turned out to be wrong; “People and leadership” was the most popular track. This was as an eye opener for me. While we have always covered all technological interests we forgot somewhere along the way that devs are more than just code and this should also be taken into account. Communicating with project members, stakeholders and product owners is a big part of what we do besides coding. Therefore, I expect we will see a lot more soft content at Knowabunga days in the future.
The “Presenters Guild” track had the fewest participants. This doesn’t discourage us from having this or similar topics in the future though. Depending on the feedback we get it might just be just the opposite. The way we see is that its better to have sessions that are fantastic to a handfull of people rather then sessions that are just average to the whole lot.
For those curious about the outcome of the ”Perfect Stack” track, here are the repos:
Yes, it’s time for another full-blown action-packed day of Knowledge! We’ll be enhancing our competence, and sharing our knowledge with one another – it’s the event we call Knowabunga! It’s also the final Knowabunga before we all head off to enjoy our well-deserved vacations :-).
This Knowabunga edition will focus on three different tracks and each of these tracks have their own separate goals; we will look into:
- The perfect stack
- People and Leadership
- Presenters guild
So, you’re probably wondering what do all these tracks mean? Well let’s break it down for you;
The perfect stack
This is our main track for this Knowabunga edition. It will concentrate on discovering issues and answering questions. What would you do differently if you could start all over again with the project you are working on? How would you set up that project? How would you organize your controllers and views? What frameworks would you use and how would you build & publish the project? The perfect stack track is about just that – starting afresh and building the best possible technology stack for the job without the ball and chain of legacy code.
The expected outcome of the day is to build a boilerplate project that demonstrates your perfect stack.
People and Leadership
This is a sidetrack created by Martin Rosenqvist, its sole focus is on the oft aspects of our craft; leadership, coaching, teamwork, communication and personal mastery.
This track focuses on learning more about holding different types of presentation, so we intend to focus on Pecha Kucha! Pecha Kucha is a technique where you use 20 slides with images and talk for 20 seconds about each slide. The slide changes automatically during the presentations, so you need to be articulate and concise! It’s a fun but challenging technique! You can read more about Pecha Kucha here and feel free to watch a sample of what it’s all about here.
We’ll follow-up and let you know how this all went down in a post after the event! Until then, keep a lookout for the #knowbunga day in your Social Media timeline!
Our first knowledge day was code-named “Knowabunga Day”. It is a direct reference to our favourite childhood cartoon; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. One of the characters – Michelangelo – used to yell “Cowabunga!”, a nonsensical word but with a lot of heart behind it.
It’s no secret that we like to see ourselves as ninjas, i.e. specialists who execute their tasks seamlessly. In order to achieve our goals – and our clients’ goals – we need to keep our wits sharp and our tools sharper. It’s imperative for us to get involved in various kinds of knowledge reinforcing activities together with our fellow ninjas. We take these activities very seriously and plan carefully for them. Thus we made up the ‘Knowabunga’ moniker by combining the aforementioned turtle’s peculiar exclamation with the word ‘knowledge’.
The Knowabunga Zen
We started our first “Knowabunga” with a modest goal, to test the waters. We set that one up with Open Source Software (OSS) as a theme and divided ourselves into groups to work on some OSS projects. Our expectations were blown way out of proportion with our code mashing ninjas authoring at least one pull request. It was fun, it catered to our ninjas’ high competencies, and it’s difficult to imagine that we’d be able to follow up our initial Knowabunga success, which was a real debauchery of programming code. That is if you could even call it debauchery? You could tell it was more a case of pure indulgence with everyones passion clearly visible that day.
Interested in knowing more about that first day? Take a look at the blog posts below:
- Report on Knowledge Sharing Day #1337oss at the Lund office
- TheCodeJunkie – Creating Value by Sharing Knowledge
Lets talk about the second day then, shall we?
Enter the Dragon
The second Knowabunga Day occurred last Friday and – Oh My Goodness - was it fun! But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s take it from the beginning! Long before the day started we were all given the opportunity to pitch ideas for projects or activities. So, that morning, after a magnificent intro by @baluubas, ideas were performed as elevator pitches in half a minute slots.
Groups were formed, as each pitch required at least two team members, and the activities started immediately thereafter. You could say that everyone in the office was pumped to work! The teams were so focused and immersed within their work that some were almost reluctant to leave their seats to eat some delicious lunch! Some of us even had to be reminded that it was, in fact, time to eat! Now that’s what you call dedication!
Rounding it Up
Towards the end of the day each team had a chance to debrief and discuss their activity or project. It went rather well, maybe too well, as our guy that is responsible for our knowledge days was totally chillin’…
The teams all had things to ‘show and tell’. It ended up as mostly ‘tell’ but there was a lot of showing off as well! The Unity 2D platformer team handed out XBOX controllers for the audience to play a death-match on our large projected screen. The Roslyn team created a compiler for a Swedish dialect of C# that we like to call “SvenskSkarp” and the functional programming team showed off how to write the Fizz Buzz programming challenge with a bunch of parenthesises.
The day ended with an afterwork and some ninjas indulged in playing a lot of table top games. Incidentally the next day was the International Tabletop Day.
Want to read more about our day? Head on over to TheCodeJunkie’s blog who has written about the experience he had during the day.
A while back I wrote about our knowledge sharing day and how we would spend that time on contributing to OSS projects. We are just around the corner for the second edition of this day which is now, after an evening of beer tasting, simply known as Knowabunga day. Yes, it’s a word play on cowabunga, popularized to us swedes by the fictional team of four teenage anthropomorphic turtles, and the word knowledge. It’s perhaps a bit on the corny side but it seems to have stuck so let’s roll with it.
This time we’ll do something completely different – we’ll have a knowledge hackahton. Before I explain what this entails I’ll just give you some background on how we ended with this particular agenda.
Being a consultant company of a certain size you are bound to have different competencies, often these are represented as different business areas. In those areas you’ll find different specializations and at the individual level you have even more diverse interests. One of the challenges we have at tretton37 is when we host these knowledge activities we want to cater to all those interest. Without a genuine interest in a topic there is nothing to drive the learning and that would pretty much render these days useless. So when we plan a knowabunga day agenda it has to work for everyone, from our agile mentors, to front-end devs, to our Sharepoint devs and so on. That, my friends, is easier said than done.
Regular tech talks wouldn’t work for us as we would have to have something for each interest. Instead we try to be creative and find topics or themes that work for everyone. Last knowabunga day, the open source theme worked out well since open source frameworks exist in pretty much any language and application layer.
The knowledge hackathon this Friday is an attempt at solving the diversity problem. At the start of the day, anyone may make a 60sec pitch on a topic that they wish to learn. Once the pitch round is over, those not pitching may choose to join a group of their choice. Groups with two or more people may continue to draft a curriculum for the day. This would set up a few goals of the day that must completed as well as a plan on how to get there. The group will then commit to this curriculum and spend almost the entire of the remainder of the day to reach the established goals. A nice perk is that the curriculums are published on our intranet so that anyone may use them later. We will end the day with a round of short talks from each group where we share insights.
There is an ulterior motive for forcing groups. We don’t meet often enough and it’s good to get to know new colleagues. Study groups are awesome for discipline and there is an opportunity to have discussions you wouldn’t have on your own. However, what we really would like to see is that people with similar interests find and meet each other. We have a tiny hope that some of the groups start to self organize after the day is over. Perhaps organizing meetups, start a channel on the company Jabbr or whatnot.
Just as last time, this is an experiment, it might turn out great and it may not. Either way, we’ll try and let you know how it went down. Look out for #knowabunga day in your timeline.
by Chris Sainty
In 2012 I moved from Australia to Sweden to join the tretton37 family. This is my story, but it could also be yours. Well except for the “2012” part – that ship has sailed.
tretton37 took a risk in hiring me – they had never hired a non-Swedish speaker before, especially one from so far abroad. In turn I took a risk on them – I had never even visited Sweden! What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, the answer to that question is a suitably understated “not much”.
Finding the right employer from the other side of the planet is a tricky business. A mutual friend introduced me to tretton37, and within minutes I was speaking to one of their founders on JabbR. Okay, okay, that part was easy. I’d love to say it was all that simple but of course, tretton37 takes recruitment very seriously.
Through the magic of Skype we organized two interviews; the first was a relaxed chat about tretton37 and Sweden, the merits of pizza vs. salad, and of course a little about myself. A few days later we had the technical interview covering standard .NET questions, code review, and general “shop talk” about our industry. There were no mountains to be moved or manhole covers to be pondered. I appreciated both interviews – relevant questions were asked and even if I was nervous, not once did I feel like the company was trying to find a way to make me slip up and fail the interview.
Since this post is useful for foreigners like myself, I should probably take a moment to answer the question, “Why Sweden?”.
Well, Sweden is a world leader of equality and fairness in society. Universal healthcare and education, gender equality, gay rights, and environmental sustainability are all basic truths of the Swedish society.
Not travelling alone? Your partner and children can migrate with you, and here they can work, study, and participate in the community as they wish.
Starting a family? How do 480 days of paid parental leave sound?
Worried about speaking only English? Swedes are ranked the best in the world for English as a second language.
Competitive salaries, proximity to the rest of Europe, a distinct lack of deadly animals (did I mention I’m Australian?), and long, dark, cold winters – wait, what?
But seriously, I’ve found that Sweden is a pretty nice place to live, even considering the fact that “winter is coming” was a way of life here long before some guy wrote a book about it.
For me, the great attractions of tretton37 were the people and the company culture. My colleagues are passionate, dedicated, diverse and interesting. Starting any technical discussion amongst the programmers invariably leads to a hearty exchange of opinions and approaches. Better still, tretton37 welcomes and encourages our individual ideas. We each have genuine potential to shape the company and make it how we want it to be. It is so refreshing to raise an issue and see it not only discussed, but also fixed, and a real joy to propose an idea and have it excitedly attempted and refined.
At the end of the day, tretton37 is simply an easy company to like. Good people, good management and good core values. We invest back into the community through Leetspeak and the best-catered user group meetings around. We strive to be better and to challenge any tradition. It’s a great feeling to be proud of the company you work for.
If you are interested in being part of the family, here are some links to read about tretton37, Sweden, or the migration process:
About this blog
We at tretton37 believe in having a strong company culture that promotes craftsmanship, professionalism and knowledge sharing.
We want to use this blog to share what we know and give everyone insight into our thoughts.
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