We don’t celebrate enough do we? Should we celebrate? Should we even care? I think we should, I think celebrating the small things is important.
I’ve been thinking for a while now about how we actually celebrate, what form it should take, how we decide when to do it. We can’t go for drinks every time a developer commits some code or a designer completes that last tiny, final little tweak. But they are things we have done well, so surely we can celebrate that. What’s the balance?
What do we do now?
Well, not much. There is no real culture of celebrating, of saying well done for the little things, or even some of the big things. I think that’s the same across the industry. It’s no wonder; everyone is busy delivering, and working out how to do more with less, how to fix problems that arise, or heading into the next project.
I personally try to write a thank you note to the team every week, but that doesn’t happen all the time. We tried to do better project retrospectives, but now we have that, they don’t work as intended. People only seem to focus on the negatives that happened and this doesn’t convey the sense of personal and team accomplishments.
At Christmas we ran ‘Project Advent’, a fairly lo-fi (although creatively put together) calendar, with prizes and a stocking to pick out the winner. The idea was to energise the team to close off projects. You know, the ones that have been hanging about and needed a few final tweaks or have been ready for ages and just needed pushing over the line.
It worked really well and everyone was involved in other projects and what was going on across the business. It was really good fun and put us into a great position for the start of the new year.
Ok, so that was more about production than finding a way to celebrate, but it energised the team, everyone got involved and people wanted to push themselves to support each other. Praise was mainly dished out by the project managers for a job well done.
Changing the culture
I think there needs to be a shift in the culture from the negative to the positive. We are actually really good at what we do and we should be able to shout about that.
We’ve recently created a celebrations board with a large brag board section, including a section to show a rolling list of features that have been published, so we can easily see how much work we are completing.
The brag section is where people can, and are encouraged to, write something nice about someone else, whether they’ve done something well or helped out, or gone above and beyond. Everyone goes past the board everyday, so you can’t help but see what’s going on. I like the lo-fi nature of it.
As part of setting up the board we agreed that once we published 25 features we can go and celebrate together as a company.
As a result we have started to talk more about the things we do well. We tell everyone when a feature has been published, we highlight to the senior management team the little things that are being done, and done well. We also have a new Celebrations channel on Slack.
It’s certainly not there, and we’ll continue to learn and iterate, but we achieved 25 features published and so are having pizza and beer tomorrow. If that doesn’t foster a spirit of 'teaminess' I don’t know what will.
Remember to celebrate the little things!