Week One

First Impressions {Anagram: SOS: Fries Misprints!}

Heading into my (short) second week at MoFo, the following thoughts are swimming around my brain:

  • Everyone here is smart and kind, which I consider to be the two most important traits in colleagues. Win! Thanks to everyone for being so welcoming.
  • This feels like the type of environment where you have to/get to “jump in.” This makes me happy because I learn by doing, but I’ll have to ask for forgiveness in advance if my contributions sometimes lack full context. I’ll try to find the right balance between listening and contributing.
  • Given the facilitative nature of my role, I expect my main unit of contribution will be on the process side of things, rather than product, content, and the other outcomes of our work. In some ways I think it’s more difficult to jump in on process, because there may be a lot of context and history that I can’t read about on wikis and blogs. Again, apologies in advance for all of the things I’m sure I’m going to mis-read during my spin-up phase.

Lay of the Land {Anagram: Lady Halftone}

I’ve asked a few people what they think are the areas in which I might be helpful. I’ve heard several answers including: establishing a team-wide rhythm, improving communication habits and meeting practices, setting up systems, and increasing communication between the various parts of the Engagement team’s work.

I’m looking forward to asking the same question of everyone on the team. I’m going to need a metric to know how well I’m doing, and so far the main metric I’ve identified is “team member happiness regarding systems and processes.” (Suggestions for other metrics welcomed!)

Dropping Philosophy {Anagram: Holding Pro-Hippy Spy}

I’m a big believer in letting systems emerge, rather than designing them, at least when it comes to groups of people (and the web). Emergent systems start from the question, “What is happening now?” and use a repeated pattern of evaluation and incremental changes to work towards better systems.

Kanban is a tool used in the manufacturing and software worlds to manage workflow and prevent bottlenecks. I like to think of Kanban as a method for discovering the process you already have in place. Even if you haven’t sat down and defined a process, if work is getting done, there is some process in place—maybe a really messy one. Kanban helps teams expose that process, and then begin to identify any problematic parts and make changes.

Honestly, I don’t know if Kanban would be an effective tool for the communications- and development-flavored work of the Engagement Team. I bring it up here only because I do think it may be valuable to implement some kind of discover/experiment/evaluate rhythms into the team’s workflow. To clarify: I’m talking about the meta process part of the work (the How), not the outcomes part (the What), though of course discover/experiment/evaluate might also be applicable to, say, building a new web property or writing a grant.

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