For the past several months, we have been running intensive company-internal workshops every week.
We have long had tradition of weekly Good Code tech talks, where people selected part of code, problem, or concept they’ve been working on recently and expand it into a tech talk. While this was well received, we always felt like there was much more to discuss than the 1h tech talk format allowed for, both in time and in the participation by the audience.
A few months ago, we expanded the idea into workshops. Workshops are longer (2 to 3 hours) and hands-on. Each is laser-focused on a very specific topic, aims to impart working knowledge of the topic to the participants, and is facilitated (guided) by one of senior developers or designers. Since there’s a workshop every week, the amount of knowledge transferred, skills learned and practiced is huge, and the learning momentum is really noticable week-to-week.
Here’s an outline of our workshop process:
- We build up a long wish-list of possible topics (current list is around a year long — lots of stuff to do!)
- Senior developers and designers sign up for the topics they’re interested in handling
- We create a schedule for the next several weeks, basically a round-robin with sorting based on the facilitator’s availability
- Workshops are always held on the same day at the same time (in our case Thursdays 2pm, after lunch, time that luckily works for everyone)
- Facilitators prepare the workshop contents (tasks, introductory material) beforehand, spending between 5-10 hours on it
- Content is split into several separate blocks; participants advance on the next block only when most have solved the current ones (this leaves time for quicker ones to help slower ones, but not hold everyone down if someone is having a bad day)
- We sync via a dedicated Slack channel; task blocks are copy/pasted to the channel any once someone is done, they add a reaction to it
- At the end, participants collaborate to record minutes/script of the workshop, containing tasks and possiblity helpful hints on bits that gave us most trouble; this means that it’s easy to refer to later, or even rerun the workshop for new coworkers
As can be seen, this is a massive investment of time, but has a lot of benefits: knowledge transfer, widening the skill set, fostering collaboration, and a very good morale booster. Our experience so far has shown it is worth it.