Level Up Week 2020 was Redgate’s first ever global event focused on learning and personal development. It encouraged us to share skills, knowledge, and ideas with other Redgaters and give each other opportunities to grow and improve. Originally envisaged as a physical conference, Level Up Week also became our first company-wide remote event, delivering content at a sustainable pace and in a format we thought people could really engage with while they’re working from home.

Image for post
Image for post

This post continues the story of how Redgate pivoted its internal tech conference to be a company global virtual conference in September 2020. If you’d like to hear the whole story of how we planned & delivered the event, discovering some unexpected advantages of a remote conference, you can read that here. …

Since 2018 Redgate’s Product Development organisation have run an internal conference to inspire people to engage in their personal development, build capability across our teams and bring people together to learn, share and collaborate. The conference — which we called Level Up — got us out of our usual working environments to learn from other Redgaters working on different things and gather fresh insights & opinions.

In 2018 our first Level Up conference had 80 attendees with around 20 people speaking to deliver sessions. Last year, Level Up 2019 had 120 attendees and almost 40 speakers. …

In January 2021 Redgate’s product development organisation will undertake a “reteaming” process to reconfigure how our teams are assigned to reflect the company’s strategy for 2021. Our approach to these team changes will allow people to strongly influence where in the new team structure they will work, encouraging them to move towards the work they find most engaging.

We’ve applied a team self-selection process for the last two years in preparation for changes to development team assignments in 2019 and 2020. Overall, the process has garnered good feedback from team members, team leaders and divisional leadership. …

During social distancing measures, with all our teams working remotely and with differing work patterns, we should be especially attentive to the wellbeing of our teammates and how we collaborate with each other. Last week I got together with a group of our engineers, designers and technical leads to explore what practices and behaviours were making a difference in their teams, as they look to nurture wellbeing and stay connected & collaborating with their teammates.

We ran a simple virtual post-it sharing session using the online collaboration tool Mural (there’s your first tip — Mural is excellent!) …

The book Accelerate — The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren PhD, Jez Humble and Gene Kim has been really important for Redgate over the past 12 months. It’s helped us find a software delivery terminology that teams and the wider company understand and buy into, and allowed us to compare how we’re performing against the best in the business.

Image for post
Image for post
Accelerate — The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations

Over the years my fellow Redgaters and I have become resistant to “productivity” measures like velocity, lines of code, code coverage and time spent on tasks, and related techniques like story points and time estimates. We’ve used practices like that in the past but have found their usefulness is outweighed by their drawbacks. Those metrics have been used to give teams (and the company) a false sense of certainty or been unconsciously used to measure the performance of teams and individuals. Therefore, before Accelerate some Redgate development teams settled on using cycle or flow time to gauge how well they were delivering. And some teams didn’t use a measure for this at all, focussing squarely on outcome metrics instead — like feature usage. We never felt either approach provided the full picture of software delivery performance, though. …

In my previous post I explained why, at the end of 2018, Redgate wanted to give people a strong influence over what team they worked on, our concerns about short team self-selection events and how we decided to approach the idea. I also covered what feedback we received immediately after the changes and reflected on the results nine months later.

This post explains in much more detail exactly how we that first formal team self-selection process, in the hope someone outside the company might find it useful.

A recap of the changes we wanted to make to our team structure

Our aim was to keep to the principles of self-determination but to try to make it as fair and low-pressure for everyone. As a function of the process we were looking to make the following changes to the shape and remit of our eleven product development…

Are you attracted to the idea of allowing people to decide for themselves what they work on, encouraging them to move towards the work they find most motivational, but something is holding you back from trying it? Perhaps you’ve heard of organisations that have run team self-selection events and, while that’s sounded to you like the right thing to do, you’ve thought “that’ll never work here”? Well, that is how Redgate’s product development organisation felt at the end of 2018.

This is the story of how we took the plunge, ran our own style of team self selection process and what happened as a result. …

Retrospectives are the lifeblood of a team’s drive for continuous improvement and a force for good on software development teams. In my opinion, teams should retrospect on a frequent cadance (every week, sprint, fortnight, iteration) and they should never, ever cancel a Retrospective.

But how do you keep retrospectives fresh and engaging, when they should be ubiquitous and routine? One way to do this is by varying the activities that comprise the retrospective. Running the same Stop/Start/Continue post-up every two weeks is going to get stale really quickly. If you don’t vary your retrospective activities at the moment, go invest in a copy of Agile Retrospectives by Derby & Larsen, check out www.liberatingstructures.com

Last week I put together a reading list for an interview candidate recommending some of the books that have shaped how Redgate approaches building our ingeniously simple software products and solutions in small empowered teams.

Thought I’d share these four books that explain why we do what we do:

At the end of June we ran a retrospective session to review how things have gone in our product development organisation during the first half of 2019. It was the first time we have organised a retro session at this scale; we have 12 development teams with a host of leadership and specialist roles to support them, so there are a lot of people to include. On the day, forty brave Redgaters turned up to the session to share their thoughts, insights and ideas as they reviewed the first 6 months of the year. …


Chris Smith

Chris is Head of Product Delivery at Redgate. His job is to lead the software development teams that work on Redgate's ingeniously simple database tools.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store