Our whole R&D team, around 80 people, were actioned for an all-hands-on-deck “operations” meeting, lasting 4 hours.  This is a mind-numbing meeting where each development team member would have a representative stand up and recite a 4-quadrant charts, “red” “yellow” or “green” status, issues, gantt chart changes, in poke-me-in-the-eyeballs-with-a-needles  boring details.

The tension:  This was a three-fold aspect of tension:

  • Everyone had to be pulled away from their work..nobody likes this.
  • Everyone was subjected to a conjectured, almost fabricated view of how good they are doing, to upper management for a critique….and usually of presentation style vs content.
  • In mind-numbing, boring detail.

I slipped out, noticed a bag of popcorn and a microwave. Hit 5 minutes instead of 2. Ran back into the room, and told a colleague “if you smell smoke in 5 minutes, run out and pull the fire alarm.”

Post-fire, I emailed the company fire-marshall on the risk of holding company meetings where “everyone in R&D” attended. Could we not just send representatives in case of fire as we saw last week?

The short term results of the hack:

  • The whole team was no longer pulled away from work…
  • The project managers represented the teams…(while this is a good thing in that the PM is no longer bugging the team during that review day, it is a bad thing we need PM’s at all.)
  • The lie of good progress still persisted….

The next hack I’d like to plan is one that promotes viewing the working software in a culture where status reports are preferred.

Suggestions on that are welcome!!

This hack was submitted anonymously


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