Life @ Localz: Week 1
I am still tingling with excitement at the end of this week. Everyday has been a great learning for me and I certainly don't feel like I was working (maybe I wasn't, lol). I feel I have heard, seen, played and experienced so many things in the last 5 days, more than what I have learned in the last 2 months.
Before I talk about my learnings on company culture, the challenges ahead, my hands on tools experience, and how I set my working rhythm, let me tell you a bit about Localz.
In my own words, Localz is an innovative company using location technology to provide transparency, control and simplicity to users. We help businesses with last mile solutions, with options for users to choose click & collect, or delivery 2 door and provides real time ETA to users, so people can enjoy their freshly ordered grocery, self-indulgent gifts bought online, brand new facility at home, things that makes their life more enjoyable, things that make them happier.
Now back to my highlights in my 1st week.
1. Great company culture:
Curious and sharing:
I started off with a great timing, get into the rhythm by joining retro, sprint planning, and going through some artefact to understand our product suite. I guess a good culture is something you can feel about. And I felt about happiness and curiosity in the air. It may not make much sense to me on what they were talking about in retro, but you can feel the trust among the team on how they talk about things. People are eager to jump on and shout out the "done" deals, and "action police" came in to keep people in line and accountable for the next steps (I love the humor of these unofficial titles). The team then dipped into water to test whether we were "swimming" or "sinking", and it brought us to focus on important things. If there is debatable proposals, you are given freedom to try out something new and see whether it's worth to bring in for the team. And that's exactly what I love about startup. The freedom to explore, fail, learn and iterate.
Talking about sharing, they are not only open and honest to talk about issues at retro, but also bring knowledges to the team. People are very talented here and on day 4 I have already experienced my first lunch brown bag session on cryptocurrency. The thing I love about the nature of sharing in the team, is they go beyond the information you can find online. Jesse shared us his project of using blockchain to track the coffee beans from ethical farms to the cafe. The part I love most is Jesse busted some myth on this tech, and shared his experience on his challenges in the project, and how the solution his team implemented actually worked in reality (search smart contract, ethereum, hyperledger, asset coloring, and bitcoin whitepaper to know more). And it's the 1st time, without reading excessive technical terms, I got an idea how blockchain can make a difference in life, what is the point of mining, and how that's adding value to the network. To sum it up, blockchain is a distributed ledger, and every block in the network captures and sync the same information, and bitcoin mining is through solving complicated math to create blocks and that makes blockchain harder to be dominated by a monopoly. It is Decentralised (no one person is in control),Traceable (ability to trace assets) and Immutable (people aren’t able to falsify transactions).
I also learnt concepts and relations among coding languages at lunch chat, such as node.js and react native. It was so refreshing to submerge myself in an environment that everyone is friendly and lovely, willing to spend time sharing their knowledge.The team is patient enough to teach me using daily object examples to explain the difference and relationship (I may post some of the graph I drew from this conversation).
There are more channels I can join than I know of at slack, and it was absolutely a great insight to how team work together, and enjoy time together. It really feels more like social network, a bunch of good friends and family working together. We work hard, but also have fun.
My fav channels are #petz, and #downunder, where we talked about our lovely office pets, Teddy and co, and things happening in the office. People also ask questions on daily life challenges, such as choice of banking etc. And by the way, who can complain when there were 2 cute puppies (Teddy and Brain) joining our retro meeting.
It's also lovely to see thanks messages on #thanks channel, where you feel real appreciation comes in, regardless of small or big things.
At 3pm in the afternoon, when time goes a bit slow, you will hear some fun wake up music to have a laugh, such as this one. I just cannot get enough of these organic creativity in the office.
2. Exciting challenges
Shape future together
My first meeting with our CTO and CEO after I joined the team has been great. I found them authentic and caring. They and the culture they created are one of the reasons I chose Localz, and one of the reasons that made me excited coming to work every day.
We talked about company goals, and challenges. We talked about our visions and patience we need to go through growth and maturity. And I felt privileged I am trusted to be one of the good bunch who can bring changes, and change things for the better. I have set my goals to help in 3 areas: Make localz the category king; Build successful product (and its product management capability); And continue to form great culture that is recognised internally and externally.
On Day 4, we had our 1st all product managers meeting across UK, Syd and Mel. I love the spontaneous collaboration using trello and google hangout to connect with my product folks around the globe. There are hard questions asked, there are jokes shared, and good start for product management enhancement.
3. Getting hands on:
On day 2 and 3, I started to get my hands on our products. I tested click & collect, and delivery apps we are building for our clients, which is a great way for me to learn our product features. Oh my, I could never forget the loud siren when the app alerts that customers have arrived to pick up goods (which was my phone set on the location designated to trigger the alert). By the way, our client's alert doesn't sounds like siren, it's just our internal testing case. Count this as a successful induction to localz. lol.
I also started to attend client's meeting and get a sense of our work in progress projects. There are still a lot for me to learn but I appreciate being included to learn new things every day.
4. Be organised, (or I'm an organised chaos atm):
Among fun conversations, coffee runs, lunch together, patting dogs, and many important meetings, I do work! I set my sprint goal on day 1 after I joined team’s retro and sprint planning. What can I say, I am pretty proud I set up a good scrum board.
With each of my sprint goals, I have stories (tasks) under them, using checklist feature of Trello. And each of them has unique number so I can easily link between things. eg: the 1st task under my 1st sprint goal is SG1-1 Planned. And after sprint planning, if I have to add new tasks that is part of my sprint goals, it is created with number SG 1-11 Added. So by the end of the sprint I can find out how many unplanned tasks are created and what's the reason behind this (Now I am assuming it's because I don't know enough what it takes to achieve the sprint goals). For the tasks I know a deadline (driven by my expectation and meeting time), Trello has done the leg work to show the percentages of sprint goals complete (when I ticked the item off), it also color code the due date for me in real time, so it helps me to prioritise work, and start moving the tasks that has shorter due date.
I started to try 2 new columns: weekly review and achieved objective, on top of sprint goal, backlog, doing and done columns. I intend to cover highlights, questions, learnings, and next steps in my weekly review so I can start improving the way I do things. Also even though I have a done column, which is more focus on task level, achieved objective column gives me the big picture and help me to focus on the outcome than the process.
But now let's take a look on how I progressed mid-sprint.
I have some red and amber on doing and backlog column. Mmm, it doesn't looks too good (I don't think I can turn around the situation that quickly). What concerns me is even though I have a lot of done tasks, which has helped me to understand my environment, but my sprint goal % hasn't been improved much (which has dependency on the overdue tasks) and so far there is more "take" for me than "give" from me. Well, at least I think the sprint goal and achieved objectives colums are working as I expected.
Key learnings for me this week are: there is a velocity of my week (I counted the # of tasks I have completed on the due date in done column), and prioritise work and daily tasks are still my challenges (as I haven't been able to work on the tasks in my list, although I do jump on to learn different things during meetings). The following week, I want to make sure I check on my sprint goal progress as the 1st thing in the morning, and also share my sprint goals and tasks with the broader team so they can help me to adjust prioritises if needed.
Do you still remember what you have learnt at your 1st week, 1st month? How do you settle yourself into the work and set up the rhythm? Any good tips organising your work when you look back? I would love to hear your experience.