One of my friends was recently having issues with a coworker; the process wasn’t going smoothly and her attempts to discuss the issue were repeatedly shut down. Trying to improve process within a company, whether a small team or a large one, can be a minefield of hurt feelings, politics and resistance.
I imagine that everyone wishes a few things were different with the way they work with others. Perhaps someone needs a meeting before a handoff because they feel left in the dark. Perhaps the developer wishes she were in more meetings in the beginning with the design team to understand how the data modeling will work. Maybe the designer wishes client meetings were limited to the morning so he can actually get work done in the afternoons.
But all too often these minor adjustments remain unsaid, even when they would greatly improve efficiency and employee satisfaction. I am always looking for ways to gain efficiency in my work (one of the tenants of development is being lazy, which boils down to being efficient). Not long after I began working at Daylight, we decided to implement twice monthly process meetings.
The idea behind a process meeting is pretty simple: give everyone a safe and open space to discuss issues with workflow. It’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about making the way we work better for everyone. It’s also about taking the time to reflect on why we do things the way we do; it’s easy to just plug away doing the same thing over and over again without question, even when those processes no longer serve the team.
Through these meetings, we have evolved the way we work. We have refined design deliverables, the way designers work with developers, how project management get estimates, how QA assigns tasks. Over time we have slowly evolved pretty much every working process, as a team of 5 functions differently than a team of 11. And we have slowly done this in the open, with everyone’s buy-in.
If you’re considering implementing a process meeting, it helps to ply everyone with pizza. At Daylight, they are sometimes referred to as “pizza meetings.” The point being to make folks feel comfortable to speak up and be open to change.