It is becoming increasingly clear that the Agile methodology is here to stay. Both well-established companies and startups practise Agile development in one form or another, thus being able to stay flexible, adapt to client needs and deliver top quality products. Pentalog has shifted to large-scale agility many years ago, increasing productivity while reducing time-to-market and minimizing risks. We want to continually learn and evolve, and we want to do it together, as a #PentaTeam! With that in mind, at the start of 2016, our Pentaguys in Iasi have created a weekly social event that over the course of a year has evolved into a very dynamic and committed Agile Community! Here’s how it all started, how we carry out our weekly agile meetups and why we think this initiative has strengthened our work relationships, improved team collaboration and brought together a beautiful community!
This Agile Community formed and developed from the need to share our knowledge, get feedback and support, identify similar challenges with the same outcome and openly discuss them in an environment where people can actively learn from one another.
We started as a self-organized Product Owner study group, created and moderated by our colleague, Catalina Vrabie, who at the time identified the need to gain and share knowledge on product ownership inside the company. We took this initiative even further, each participant came with the different challenges they had to overcome while working on certain projects, we encouraged them to come with work examples, with questions and possible solutions. That was the point where we organically shifted towards Agile methodology and best practices, and the response was extremely enthusiastic, leading to an awesome like-skilled group passionate about professional development and improvement!
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Building better practice together
Every week we organize a one-hour meetup, the purpose being to invest our energy in something productive, but at the same time, to have a space where we can freely debate each topic, play and socialize. The core of our gathering is self-organization, we are a supportive and united community, each meetup is moderated by a participant, who takes charge and presents a chosen topic, everyone is invited to ask questions and express their point of view.
What began as an informal gathering has gradually advanced towards a more focused group, we analyze specific cases and work together to come up with the best possible solutions, taking into account pro/con arguments. From how we manage the backlog, organize and prioritize user stories, to relative story point estimation, to topics such as communicating with the client, to assigning Scrum roles and sharing the responsibility, business value and constantly improving the quality of the software products delivered.
We wanted to bring as much creativity and communication to these meetups, that is why we interact with each other through games, building sustainable solutions to practical problems in a relaxing and playful atmosphere. That is, we learn through play, we organize competitions, we work in small teams and we tackle each challenge with determination, but also good humor! For instance, some of our exercises consist of building the strategy for launching a product, from packaging to the final delivery, from marketing the product to presenting it. In fact, all our meetups revolve around a specific topic and we also engage in strategy games and fun activities!
Brought together by a strong sense of community
Open communication is encouraged, everyone is welcomed to bring their own ideas to the table, each fresh new perspective is valued and each participant has the chance to moderate a meetup in a direction or another. One can only measure success rate with feedback, and since we will soon celebrate our 45th meetup, we can safely say that this Agile community, which started as a small group, has proved to be a total hit in a matter of months!
We couldn’t be prouder of this initiative, we support all knowledge sharing sessions, we try to organize as many as possible and encourage everyone to attend. Agile Community meetups were initiated by and consist of like-minded individuals who come together to share their experience and passion for a technology, who know that communication inside an Agile team is vital and it results in powerful synergy across ALL teams.