Hackney Spacebank: Weeknote, w/c 02.12.19

Trees being blown in a storm.
It’s been one of those sprints

The weeknote of doom.

I dread sitting down to write this sort of weeknote.

We didn’t meet our sprint goal. We got 90 per cent of the way there but we missed “done”. It’s profoundly frustrating for the team. 10 days’ hard work and apparently nothing to show for it. 

Facing the unknown

The sprint goal felt right, the number stories felt achievable, our output was clearly defined. So, what happened?

The unknown hit us like a stonking great wind. A invisible force that you can hear and feel, but you can’t see it or catch it.  

What do we know now that we didn’t know two weeks’ ago:

  • What we can – and can’t do – with content on the Hackney website*
  • New team members needing a more clarity on our user groups 
  • The working cadence of other teams we are collaborating with 
  • The untapped enthusiasm of our colleagues at Dalston library**

What’s yoga got to do with anything?

Pokemon character Stitch trying to do a  yoga headstand.
Stitch grappling with a headstand

I’m borrowing this analogy from Matthew Cain. Agile – like yoga – a daily practice. After a while the rhythm of its ways, its principles and values starts to shape a team’s mindset. Yoga sculpts the body inside and out. In the same way agile moulds how a team works together and how it behaves. 

Our habit of sprint review and retro with a #nojudgement culture turned our failure into actionable nuggets – golden pieces of learning forged in the heat of honest conversation. 

I knew that I had a team that trusted each other to say hard things. I now know that we can weather storms together. 

Failure feels good

I’m proud that the team took hold of the agile principle to deliver a small piece of value to our end users in two weeks. There’s nowhere to hide when you make a commitment like this. This takes courage. 

We’re not going to retreat into safe incremental steps. We are going to keep working iteratively, even if it means we fail more often. 

*Our website is an MVP.

**This is great! 

Hackney Spacebank: Weeknote, w/c 25th November 2019

Kitten hanging off a blanket.
Hanging in there, sprint 1 is coming to an end

Three things you need to know about Spacebank this week:

The (sprint) end is nigh

We are at that crunchy moment in the sprint where there are lots of things in flight but our done column looks a bit sparse. This makes me nervous* as a delivery manager but I have to practice what I preach and trust the team. There’s nothing like a deadline to get the adrenaline pumping and the team are beavering away. 

Recognising what we don’t yet know

Knowing enough to take the next step is an agile-ism. In practice it’s hard to hold onto this. It’s easy to slip back into patterns of thinking that hold us back from delivering value early and often. It takes courage to try something, even something small, because we are conditioned to fear failure. 

We know a lot about our users in Spacebank, this is good. We know enough to re-design our library pages and test this content. We are less sure about two things:

  • How to effectively target untapped bookers – organisations and individuals who aren’t aware that the council has meeting space they can hire at low cost 
  • The best place to put information about meeting rooms in the library – on Hackney’s website or on our booking software.

We are going to take a closer look at both these issues in our next sprint. 

Update on people and skills

Following on from my previous weeknote, we’ve made progress on securing another role. We have a UX designer starting on the project next week. I’m excited to bring together the expertise of our content designer Eleanor and new UX designer Junior. First task: review our prototype designs based on the user research we did in the summer. It remains a challenge to find a front end developer for the team. It feels like a rock and a hard place right now, but as the saying goes, adversity breeds innovation so I’m hanging on in there!

*Healthy nerves