, , ,

When working with a team that is made up of individuals often working on diverse activities, as often happens with an architecture practise keeping everyone feeling engaged, informed and connected can be challenging.

Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of a 15:5. The concept is incredibly simple, demands little of the individual but really help address these issues. The idea works like this …

Once a week – ideally mid-afternoon on the last day of the week. Each individual takes no more than 15 minutes to answer 5 questions and then emails it to the rest of the team.  The emails typically will take no more than 5 minutes to read. He questions are along the lines of:

  • What have I done this week,
  • What have I got planned for next week,
  • What are my successes,
  • Where do I need help,
  • How do I feel?

The last question all the simplest can be the trickiest. The goal of this question is to help the team leader and understand the mood of the team and individuals. Having this insight means underlying issues of ill feeling etc can be addressed. But answer this question directly, can result in very anodyne responses. This can be addressed by encouraging people to respond with a bit of humour. This can reveal a lot more indirectly. One of my former colleagues, who was working in very challenging conditions got finding funny ways to express his frustration. For example “Forest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates, fine but I keeping the box when everyone has eaten all this nice chocolates if I’m lucky”.

Where do I need help, can be a directed request for some assistance, or could be I’ve been asked to do something that isn’t my area of knowledge. This kind of sharing can mean another member of he team, who maybe be able to help can respond or the team lead can look to facilitate some support.

Typically reading these emails only takes a few minutes. A lot of people when I’ve introduced this idea have pushed back and said – those minutes add up when there are a lot of us. This maybe true, but you don’t have to read them all at once, and pausing for a couple of minutes here and there whilst you drink your coffee, waiting for a meeting to start is dead time well used.

The secret to making this work is everyone does it regardless of seniority every week (unless you’re on holiday). To illustrate the idea, here is an fictional example:

What have I done this week,

  • An RFI that was passed to us for input at the last minute for infrastructure consulting
  • Got to the bottom of customer’s process for requesting network changes
  • Submitted network change requests

What have I got planned for next week,

  • Get incoming devs into Active Directory and into the correct groups
  • Get load balancer policy updated for app x
  • Project handover and holiday

What are my successes,

  • Finally got to the bottom of customer process and accountabilities
  • RFI returned

Where do I need help,

  • Given the urgency of customer project that some with some pull keeps pressure on infrastructure
  • Input from Joe to configure load balancing in F5 appliance

How do I feel?

  • Shattered, RFI being last minute and people playing politics around it BUT some time out with the family next week.