Last night I went to a meetup run by my favorite meetup group, the London Software Craftsmanship Community, or LSCC.
The best part? There was cake!
The second best part? I had a bit of an epiphany when it comes to community building. More on that later.
I learned last night that this group was co-founded by Sandro Manusco six years ago (hence the cake), who also co-founded Codurance. Interestingly, this was the first LSCC meetup actually hosted at Codurance in the history of the group. Also, it was the first time that I’ve met Sandro in the dozen or so sessions I’ve been to.
LSCC has a great variety of meetups, including talks, pair programming nights, and hands-on workshops.
An Open Space Event
The format of this particular session was Open Space, where the participants come up with the content. On a whim, I decided to propose a discussion about something that has been on my mind recently: How do I build a sustainable community of software craftsmanship at my company?
I was wondering this because optional lunch and learns were introduced at work this spring. Initially, there were lots of people running and attending these talks, but recently they’ve dwindled a bit and I’m the only one who is still planning sessions.
The Group Discussion
Luckily, there were many people who were interested in discussing that topic, as well as a similar topic, the relationship between employees and management. There was a great discussion, but it focused more on the other topic. Before I knew it, the time was up and my question wasn’t quite answered.
Three people noticed this and approached me afterwards. They had all experienced similar problems and gave me piles of advice. My head was spinning with all the great ideas they were throwing around, so I’ll probably miss some, but I’d sum them up as follows.
1) Shared Ownership
The community shouldn’t feel like it’s just one person’s baby. It shouldn’t just rely on one person to keep it afloat. Start it then fade into the background.
They don’t need to be every week, but they should be some sort of discernible pattern. Don’t randomly scatter sessions. People will be more likely to remember to come if it’s every other Wednesday than if it’s just two random days per month.
If your lightning talk sessions are falling flat, try pair programming on some kata. Or perhaps showing some videos. Or a book club.
Don’t take yourselves too seriously. This isn’t work. It shouldn’t feel like work. Have fun.
5) Openness and Support
Welcome everyone with open arms. Support each other.
While cycling home, it hit me. It seems so obvious now, but this is exactly how LSCC is run.
- Shared Ownership: Sandro may have co-founded it but there’s now a dedicated army of other organizers who keep it going and thriving.
- Regularity: There are very regular sessions- this open space session, for example, is a monthly one.
- Variety: As I mentioned before, there’s lots of different sessions.
- Levity: And there’s definitely lots of joking around (by the way, is Java dead?).
- Openness and Support: I worried at first that I didn’t belong to this group, but was welcomed so quickly that I completely forgot that. The support I felt yesterday by the people who took the time to approach me after the group discussion was awesome.
In short, what I need to do at work in order to build a culture of software quality is to be more like LSCC.
A couple resources were mentioned with regards to this topic. I hope to check these out soon!
- The Software Craftsman, Sandro Manusco (yes, that’s the same Sandro who started this group!)
- Peopleware, Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister (A classic on management in software)
Get in touch!
Questions? Comments? Typos? Lies? Tweet me at sgryzko!