Blog / Tactile agile for Introverts

October 22, 2014

I have been a part of Unboxed Consulting since it was just a twinkle in Richard’s eye. The times that I have been absent are directly related to family matters and there has never been a company that has attracted my attention enough to distract my unfailing love for what we do and believe in.

That is why it was so strange when I rejoined in September 2013. It felt as if I had started working in an office full of strangers. I did not know how to engage with people - whether I shared friendships with them outside of work or had never met them before. As a person returning I was given even less of an introduction to how things worked than those who had joined whilst I was away.

There is a delicate period when a start up turns from being pals who code together in a loft into an organisation and Unboxed Consulting had gone through this transition. In the beginning we had all joined because we were recommended by someone who knew someone. In that exchange we sometimes lost the recognition that comes with making it through a critique of our CVs and a number of hops, skips and jumps into a new job.

The result was a situation where people do not know who to ask for permission to do stuff that they have been hired for being excellent at. The management structure at Unboxed Consulting had gone from being virtually non-existent to an essential work-around with rapid growth and the culture had been diluted with an influx of new faces and ideas. “Management” seemed frustrated that given all the freedom they had, people did not feel empowered.

Where was the button that said: Awesome

Feeling a part of the original furniture that had been taken out of storage, it was evident to me that the induction into Unboxed Consulting needed to change from a list of TODOs into something that was a “virtual hug” from day one.

I, Claire Kemp, was handed the challenge of

hug

Induction version 1, an Indesign document that could be printed off for New Joiners on day 1 is a map to navigate the way we work. It was all smart and grown up until someone left the company or made a change to the way we do things, then the document (that had already taken a week of our Designer’s time) needed refactoring.

As a work around we updated pages that were referred to on the wiki and made notes in email communications to New Joiners about changes.

Induction version 2 was a condensed form of the same document that was WIP for the duration of 3 Recruits. It aimed to be more interactive to accommodate for change and highlight the most important operations for all New Joiners to facilitate business as usual (login, email, timesheets, invoicing and get togethers). The problem was that so much knowledge fell between the cracks and we could still not be 100% sure that New Joiners would know how things work after reading it.

Taking things back to basics, it was time to get post-its and sharpies out … Which reminded me … Agile is actually quite fun.

“How Unboxed Consulting Currently Works” is a virtual board of interactive stories that tells New Joiners the story of where we are. Stories can be prioritised according to the New Joiner’s role and their familiarity with how things work. Each story card has a Acceptance Criteria for progression in the game and New Joiners are required to interact with the structures that we have in place, meeting their new colleagues who coach them along the way.

Activities in the game include identifying people that a New Joiner may work with in their first week from the caricatures on the wall and seeing if they remember any of the people who have seen them through their recruitment process. They get to add their own caricature to the wall, updating their own profile on our website, set up email and sign into Slack - getting involved in conversations from Day 1. They meet our other half in Cape Town and learn all about Carlo’s interesting career. New Joiners then delve into our values and the way that we work, getting themselves booked into Intro to Agile/Ruby on Rails or other relevant events (meeting Graeme and Sarah to facilitate this) and filling in their Timesheets for week 1 (with Shirin and Suki). Meet a new person for coffee, find their new buddy and take a trip into the Shoreditch buzz….

And the best bit - they get to sign their contract of employment, agreeing to play these sorts of games with us for as many days as it is fun. Which it will always be - that is my job right?