An Introduction to Our Knowledge Sharing Workshops
New Verve’s Technical Consultant, Zoi Raskou, has written this blog showcasing our weekly internal knowledge sharing workshops. The blog will introduce you to our workshops, explaining why and how we do them, plus it will give you an insight into how they help to keep us connected and to improve as a business. The blog is the first in a series which will share the content from our workshops to introduce you to the tools and methods we use day-to-day and in our solutions.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” famously quoted Maya Angelou and at New Verve our aim is definitely to do better. As a team with our hands stuck in many tools, we do know a lot of things but how well founded is this knowledge? Quite well I must say! How did we get to this stage and how can we maintain this level of expertise? Through painstaking research, hands on experience, and webinars and events among others. How can we enable new team mates to get up to speed with the tools, methodologies, concepts, and best practices? We share the knowledge!
Why do we do them?
Using brand new tools and dissecting the various new technologies and framework is always part of our job. However the Atlassian ecosystem is rather big. Each and every one of us have experience with a small section of this large net of tools and products which allows for our collective team knowledge to cover the full spectrum. But is this enough?
Judging from the length of this blog you might suspect that it isn’t. This organic development creates a knowledge gap between the team members that can block a small team from delivering projects quickly and efficiently. Having one expert in reporting means that our team has their hands tied when the expert is working on other projects, has other priorities, or is on their well-deserved annual leave.
What benefits do they bring?
Instead of having experts in each fields, we have members that are slightly better versed in products, tools, methodologies, etc. The knowledge sharing workshops are run by the most experienced among us who then share their wisdom with those not yet initiated.
Depending on the topic we might have a complete “Getting Started” guide, or a more targeted session on more complex tools. The MDX language used by the eazyBI report was the first workshop where an entire session was dedicated to a feature.
While we work from home we considered postponing the workshops. However after popular demand we decided to host them remotely. We have now found a new purpose to meet up during the week and take the time to connect with one another while also improving our work.
An additional benefit is that we are challenged as “experts”. We need to explain a topic to an audience that has varying levels of experience and we need to make sure that everyone can benefit from the session. Anyone who has tried to explain a new concept might identify with us and agree that it is very hard to explain it unless you have a deep understand yourself.
Last but not least, the presenter is given 30 minutes of our attention. This can mean a lot of things, it might be the time to shine or the most dreaded part of the week. For those of us with stage fright, the workshops aim to relieve that by having us present to a (somewhat) friendly audience.
How do we run them?
The key words about our process are quick and easy. We don’t want too much of everyone’s time to attend, and we also want the presenter to spend as little time as possible to prepare.
The sessions run on a weekly basis at a time when it suits most of the attendants. We have decided that this schedule works for us for a number of reasons, we have a least one week to schedule the next session and to prepare, it doesn’t interfere with our weekly schedule and our client engagements, and also keeps the attendance rate high.
Most sessions revolve around Atlassian and partner tools. Some examples are Atlassian Access, Insight, eazyBI, Portfolio, and Trello. We also have sessions on indirectly related topics such as Active Directories and Linux which aim to provide some context and enable us to understand the limitations or caveats of our solution designs.
Recent sessions have expanded the scope of our workshops, and we had sessions on productivity techniques to share our struggles, problems, and solutions that would be otherwise discussed casually in the office.
The workshop itself lasts 30-40 minutes, although some more complex topics have notoriously over ran. The participation rate is on average on 90% and we are flexible in how it is structured. Workshops that encourage discussion can divert from the presenter’s path, while others might reserve some time before the end of the session for questions and clarifications.
Each session is accompanied by a small presentation and/or page on the basic concepts discussed. The page serves as internal documentation, a reminder of the session, and also contains screenshots and links to further resources. Our aim is to enable everyone to get started on new tools and processes by providing an easy to read and follow guide that is accessible and can be expanded and improved as products are updated or we discover groundbreaking tools and features that help us revisit previous practices.
The Future of workshops
We plan to keep evaluating the sessions, experimenting with different content, and presentation styles. We aim to share useful insights and tips and tricks we have picked up along the way so keep an eye on our blog page for more from the workshops!